DecewDepartment of Residences
The following are descriptions for DeCew Houses:
Keefer House Camels
Named for George Keefer (1787-1858), pioneer settler and principal founder of Thorold. He was an Ensign, Lieutenant and Captain in the Second Regiment, Lincoln Militia, taking part in the battles of Lundy's Lane and Chippawa. He, along with a younger brother, walked on foot from New Jersey to Upper Canada in 1790. As an original shareholder and first President of the Welland Canal Company, he turned the first sod for the commencement of the works at Allanburg on November 30, 1824. For the rest of his long life, he was actively engaged in the commercial life of the community, both as miller and merchant. He was twice married; of his fifteen children two sons achieved high distinction as civil engineers; another son became the first Canadian to sit in a state legislature in Australia.
Fitzgibbon House Grizzlies
Named for James Fitzgibbon, Lieutenant (later Captain) 49th Regiment and Colonel in the Canadian Militia. A victor at the Battle of the Beaver Dams, June 24, 1814 and in 1837 he commanded the Militia at Toronto during the disturbances in December following William Lyon Mackenzie's advance on the city from Montgomery's Tavern. In 1838 he wrote a celebrated note to Lord Durham when the Governor-General had announced his determination to return to England: My Lord, Do not abandon us. It will be, I humbly think, more noble to stand by us until you shall have accomplished your labours, than to return and punish the unworthy men who assail you. This was signed "An Old Soldier"
Cruickshank House Dolphins
In the course of a long public career he edited many of the military records of the War of 1812, as well as many of the papers of John Graves Simcoe. He was, for some years, Director of the Historical Section of the General Staff (Army) in Ottawa and subsequently served a term as Chairman of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. For many years, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, he was in 1935 awarded the Tyrrell Medal for distinguished service to Canadian History.
Hunter House Monsters
Named for Lieutenant-General Peter Hunter (1746-1805), Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, 1799-1805 and previously Lieutenant-Colonel commanding the Western District (1788-89). The Western District was a territory extending from Oswego to Michilimakinac, with headquarters at Fort Niagara (at that date still in British hands). During two seasons of meagre harvests and bitter weather he advanced military supplies to pioneer farmers of the Niagara Region. On succeeding Simcoe as Lieutenant-Governor, Hunter resided at various places in the province, maintaining frequent contacts with the Niagara Region because of uncertainties along the border
Holmes House Flamingoes
Named for Herbert Holmes (-1837), who was killed in a disturbance near the Old Jail in Niagara-on-the-Lake in September, 1837. As a local preacher, Homes was determined to resist an attempt to return to the United States a slave named Solomon Moseby, accused to horse-stealing. Holmes was killed instantly by armed constables after having stopped a prison wagon to which the prisoner was handcuffed. The prisoner escaped, making his way evenutally to England. His death was the culmination of long-standing anxieties and grievances: no authoritative statement was ever made whether Moseby was to be tried for horse-stealing or whether (as was widely rumoured) he was being returned to slavery. Something of the same suspicion and distrust must have surrounded the outbreak of rebellion north of Toronto three months later.
Shickluna House Lions
Named for Louis Shickluna (1808-1880), native of Malta and pioneer shipbuilder on the Twelve Mile Creek. Between 1836 and 1871 he launched 120 steamers and ships of various kinds, including "The Pride of Canada" in 1852. This was the first vessel from a St. Catharines yard designed for ocean navigation, which sailed directly for England. As late as 1864, the shipyard employed over 300 men. An address, presented by the Citizens of St. Catharines on May 16, 1871, spoke of Shickluna as "having attained to the first place among the marine architects of the Dominion" and congratulated him upon "the well merited success which has followed your diligent efforts...in contributing to the material advancement of our Town".
Simcoe House Spider Monkeys
Named for Elizabeth Posthuma Simcoe (1770-1850), wife of the first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada. Left an orphan before her first birthday, she was brought up by relatives. At the age of 16, she married Colonel John Graves Simcoe. She accompanied him to Canada in 1792, proceeding from Quebec to Kingston to Newark (now Niagara-on-the-Lake). That way, she was present with her husband at the opening of the first meeting of the Legislative Assembly on September 18. During the next two years she, with her younger children, travelled throughout the Niagara Region. She did so frequently by canoe, camping at the edge of the forest under canvas. Her dairy of these journeys is a facinating document. When the seat of government was removed to York, the family lived in the house, built by Simcoe, called Castle Frank. Returning to England, the family lived at Wolford Lodge, near Honiton, Devon, which Mrs. Simcoe had aquired in 1784. After her husband's death, in 1806, she lived 44 years in widowhood; of her nine children, one died in infancy at York; the elder son was killed in the siege of Badajoz in 1812; several of the daughters were buried near the graves of their parents at Wolford Chapel, built by the family in 1800.
Macdonnell House Dragons
Named for Lieutenant Colonel John Macdonnell, A.D.C. to Major-General Sir Isaac Brock, mortally wounded at the Battle of Queenston Heights, October 13, 1812. Colonel Macdonnell, the Attorney-General of Upper Canada during 1812, was the senior Canadian officer engaged with the regular units of the British forces (the 49th Foot and the 41st Foot) and was one of two A.D.C.s to the Commanding General. When Brock was aroused by the sound of gunfire and rode from Fort George to Queenston, he outdistanced his own Staff. When he was struck down, Macdonnell was leading a second attack up the slope, hoping to dislodge the United States forces higher up. His horse was killed under him, and he recieved wounds from which he died the following day. His body was buried, along with General Brock's remains, in a bastion of Fort George. On October 13, 1824, these coffins were transferred to the base of the first Brock Monument. When this Monument was damaged by an explosion on April 13, 1840, the remains were removed to the private burial ground of the Hamilton family in Queenston. In 1853, when the present Brock Monument was completed, the coffins were brought back to the base where they have since remained
St. Julien House Moose
Visible for several miles from its site beside the main road from Ypres to Bruges, the impressive Canadian Memorial at St. Julien stands like a sentinel over those who died during the heroic stand of Canadians during the first gas attacks of the First World War. It is one of the most striking of all the battlefield memorials on the Western Front. Rising almost 11 metres from a stone-flagged court, "The Brooding Soldier" surmounts a single shaft of granite - the bowed head and shoulders of a Canadian soldier with folded hands resting on arms reversed. The expression on the face beneath the steel helmet is resolute yet sympathetic, as though its owner meditates on the battle in which his comrades displayed such great valour. The statue is set in the middle of a garden surrounded by tall cedars, which are kept trimmed to perfect cones to match and complement the towering granite shaft. The St. Julien Memorial was unveiled on July 8, 1923, by HRH the Duke of Connaught. Among the many veterans who were present was the former Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies, Marshal Ferdinand Foch. Speaking in tribute to those whom the Memorial honoured, Marshal Foch said: "The Canadians paid heavily for their sacrifice and the corner of earth on which this Memorial of gratitude and piety rises has been bathed in their blood. They wrote here the first page in that Book of Glory which is the history of their participation in the war."The inscription on the Memorial recalls the Canadian participation in the Second Battle of Ypres: THIS COLUMN MARKS THE BATTLEFIELD WHERE 18,000 CANADIANS ON THE BRITISH LEFT WITHSTOOD THE FIRST GERMAN GAS ATTACKS THE 22ND-24TH OF APRIL 1915. 2,000 FELL AND HERE LIE BURIED
Brant House Bulldogs
Named for John Brant (1795-1832), son of Joseph Brant, celebrated Chief of the Mohawks of the Grand River Reservation. The younger Brant fought in all the major engagements of the War of 1812 along the Niagara Frontier, including Fort George, Stoney Creek, Beaver Dam, Chippawa, Lundy's Lane and in the defence of Fort Erie under siege. At the Beaver Dams on June 24, 1814, he led the Indian forces which, in conjunction with some 46 rank and file of the 49th Regiment under Lieutenant James Fitzgibbon, compelled the surrender of a larger United States force. In 1832, John Brant was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada for the County of Haldimand (part of which lay within the limits of the Grand River Crown Grant). His majority included votes of electors who held property under leases granted by his father. The Courts had decided that the indian voters did not enjoy title in fee simple; and when Brant's opponent, Colonel Warren, contested the election, Brant was unseated. A contemporary comment notes that Brant "was worthy both by natural gifts and education of the honour the people had paid him." He dies later in the same year in the wake of a cholera epidemic which afflicted the Lakes region