Old Films of Canada & the Niagara Region Historical Preservation Project

Click HERE to watch my youtibe  collection of Niagara Region historical films

Click HERE to watch my youtube collection of Canada historical films

I began digitizing old films in 2002, eventually expanding services to video tapes such as VHS, Betamax, and various video camera formats, as well as 35mm slides, printed photos, and audio recordings.

The Canada Historical Films youtube collection I started in 2012, while the Niagara Historical Films project on youtube began in June 2016.

As of January 2019, I have over 100 videos of old films in the youtube collection from 1921 to the 1980s.

Still hoping to find even just one old film of the old Welland Canals, with a commercial sailing schooner somewhere on the 2nd or 3rd.

Watch my June 6th 2018 interview on Cogeco's local TV channel,   Click Here

And, another TV interview January 22, 2019 click HERE


Steve Hartwell steve@homemovies.ca www.homemovies.ca 905-650-1684 voice or text


Ever wondered why the old Welland Canals were never restored as historical and water recreational heritage, instead have been deliberately left to rot  ?

In fact, a massive heritage 'development' plan in the 1980s came within weeks of doing just that and with World Heritage Designation as well as Canadian federal, provincial, and municipal heritage designations.

Read all about it in this PDF Click Here 


March 2019

2013 Old Welland Canals 1, 2, and 3, Cultural Landscape Historic Site Application to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC)

Related links provided below.



Last month a google search of mine stumbled upon documents publicly available on the Niagara-On-The-Lake civic website of a November 2013 application to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC) department of Parks Canada, requesting approval of National Historic Welland Canals Cultural Landscape designation for areas specified within the Niagara Region between Lakes Ontario and Erie.

According to which all related municipalities, the regional council, and even the St Lawrence Seaway Management Corp of Canada(SLSMC), approved support thereof.

A Working Group accepted by HSMBC comprised of 13 representatives, including 2 from SLSMC, hammered together the comprehensive application, taking great pains and efforts to address all concerns, and comply with the extensive stringent HSMBC requirements.

I learned from the documents that said designation approval would in no way force nor obligate nor affect any related parties' lands nor financial resources in any way. It threatened nobody.

An HSMBC Information Officer (IO) subsequently informed me the application had been rejected, "on the basis of the information provided by the proponent, this nomination has not been recommended for formal consideration by the HSMBC."

When I asked for details, the IO told me HSMBC does not keep those types of details for rejected applications. She said she could not even provide me a copy of the original application.

She said that at the time, a letter and explanation would have been sent to the primary proponent, which was the Niagara Regional Council. But which the HSMBC did not keep a copy of.

That's the most ludicrous thing she said. HSMBC has to keep records of all applications and rejections.

I contacted the NRC Clerk's Office asking if that HSMBC rejection letter and explanation was still there, and could I get a PDF copy.

Surprise of surprises, it is still there, and, I got it. It's dated November 10, 2015.

It said a lot of things, but essentially boiled down to:

"The Board noted with regret that because of reconstruction the Welland Canadal during the 19th and 20th centuries, they had become isolated in a landscape which was now dominated by an abandoned feature of the Fourth Canal. Moreover the Board felt that their historical charactoer as well as their site integrity had been compromised to such an extent that it was impossible to appreciate them in the context of the Second Canal. The Board also noted that while nodes of the 2nd and 3rd Welland Canals do survive, such as the abandoned 14 kilometre section of the latter which is a component of the City of Welland's urban landscape, a full appreciation of the past navigation role of the canals is difficult to achieve save from a few specific but isolated vantage points."

"It would be a relic cultural landscape representing disjointed segments of past canals."

"...is not possible without including the operational 4th canal."

"...consent of all owners has not been obtained..."

"...these lands are not adequately described for the purpose of nomination."

and finally,

"The consent of the SLSMC for the national historic site cultural landscape has not been obtained."

Since no appeal of the decision was made, re-submission cannot be done for 15 years, which would be the year 2030.


1/ SLSMC was two of the members of the Working Group composing the very comprehensive application, and was one of the supporting signatories of the application at the time of submission.

2/ Historic Landscape Site Designation would in no way force, nor obligate, nor affect, nor require any changes to, any of the lands or structures within the 'landscape areas', and no financial requirements. Therefore it threatened no one.

3/ Criteria for Aboriginal Cultural Landscapes


In June 1999, the HSMBC Board recommended the following definition and guidelines:
An Aboriginal cultural landscape is a place valued by an Aboriginal group (or groups) because of their long and complex relationship with that land. It expresses their unity with the natural and spiritual environment. It embodies their traditional knowledge of spirits, places, land uses and ecology. Material remains of the association may be prominent, but will often be minimal or absent.

If material remains of Aboriginal Landscapes can be minimal or absent for Cultural Landscape Historic Site designation, why do the various substantial segments of the 2nd and 3rd Welland Canals and even still existing small parts of the 1st Welland Canal not qualify ?

I have no doubts of what seems very obvious to me that the SLSMC, which since privatization in 1992 has been 100 percent ruled by the Americans' Canal Management corporation, joined the Old Canals Cultural Landscape Historic Site Working Group for the sole purpose of learning exactly how to scuttle the 2013 application.

In Canada - the Rideau, the Trent-Severn, the Lachine, and the Erie in the U.S. - all were in dilapidated segmented states when they got historic designations, and, money to restore them to operating conditions that have ever since become centres of economic renewal and profitable money makers.

The following links are a 2017 Heritage Sites report, and a Niagara Tourism Profile report.



Both reports prove that Heritage Tourism is massively increasing. The Niagara Tourism Profile reveals that Heritage Tourism is up 42 percent since 2011 while Casino Tourism is down by almost the same percentage. A whopping 65 percent of those tourists are Canadians. This trend is going to continue into the future. Thus proving it would be very wise and profitable to support Niagara Heritage, including the Old Welland Canals.

But the powers that be in Niagara tragically are not wise when it concerns the Old Welland Canals, nor anything else.

There is a 20-30 year plan for Canada's Niagara Region. Most people want there to be new centres of high density urbanization minimizing vehicle traffic and surrounded by agriculture, nature, and heritage.

Despite official registered plan approvals produced to do it, that's not what will happen.

The mid 2018 provincial election brought in a government that is pro-development, that has slashed all protections for the Ontario Green Belt and Niagara Escarpment and Agriculture, and the late 2018 municipal elections whereby the incumbent pro-development councils were mostly tossed out and allegedly replaced by balanced development councils have already proven they are totally ineffectual to change the pro-development status quo.

Developers will turn the whole Region into a huge Americanized megaopolis that does not include Agriculture, Wetlands, Greenbelt nor Niagara Escarpment protection, Canadian History, Old Welland Canals, nor even still being Canada.

My only solace being I'm almost 69 and I won't be here to see the majority of it happen.