The Five Corners

The Five Corners from a 1943 Insurance Map

The Five Corners from a 1943 Insurance Map

For the residents of Niagara Falls, the location of Five Corners is perfectly obvious. It is where you go for coffee or to Giant Tiger. To those from out of town it is some mysterious place that no one has defined for them.

The early land surveys of Ontario had a simple formula. A line was drawn parallel to the waterway, in this case, to the river. This line had to avoid intersecting with any inlet of the river. Along the water front there might be a road, sometimes an already existing trail. This was referred to as “the broken front”. The first straight line inland was the first concession, that is,
the farms along its route were conceded to the individual farmers. Generally these farms were surveyed at one hundred acres each. The farm houses and barns most frequently were built along this concession road.

Niagara Falls was surveyed in the usual fashion and laid out in a grid. The concession roads follow in order, Victoria, Stanley, Drummond/St. Paul, Dorchester and Montrose. The Line Roads were perpendicular to the Concession roads and cut across them. They were not intended to have farm buildings along them. So we have McLeod, Ferry/Lundy’s Lane, Morrison,
Thorold Stone and Mountain Roads as principal roadways in a farming community.

As in many places in the province, the surveyors had an old road to consider. In Niagara Falls it was the old Portage Road. It had become too important to overlook and too much used to neglect it. Entire villages had grown up along it. Chippawa was at one end. It formed the Main
Street of Drummondville and before it dropped over the escarpment to Queenston at the other end. It passed through a scattered community called Stamford with two churches and an actual Village Green.

When two roads intersect you have four corners, Portage obviously intersected with both Drummond and Thorold Stone in the same geographic spot. The result of the intersection of these main thoroughfares easily came to be described as The Five Corners. People from surrounding towns seem think that there is some mystery here to which they cannot find an
answer. No one in Niagara Falls misunderstands the designation.

By Fred Habermehl, 2018

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