Visit the downtown core in virtually any city and you will find a place that has had to re-invent itself and get creative as its function has shifted over the last 4 or more decades. St. Catharines is no different as shops and restaurants like Coy Brothers, Wallace’s, Eatons, Duthlers Textiles, Irene’s Dress Shop and Diana Sweets, while definitely not forgotten, have all disappeared.
For the last 20 or 30 (or more) years, there have been numerous initiatives and plans to help reinvigorate what had slowly become a hollowed out place where businesses, while admirable in their intentions, struggled and often closed up.
All of the above makes the current state of affairs in our downtown core that much more exciting. The combination of grass roots efforts along with the collaborative efforts of all levels of government and the eternal faith of our local entrepreneurial spirit have resulted in a new day for our downtown.
The anchors of the progress have been a combination of significant infrastructure and facilities combined with an increase of residential units. Where there was merely a parking lot is now home to the Meridian Centre, home to our OHL Niagara Ice Dogs (www.NiagaraIceDogs.net) as well as numerous concerts and performances throughout the year. We have had everything from Monster Trucks to The Tragically Hip to Jerry Seinfeld.
Where there was a textile factory now stands Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of the Fine and Performing Arts (www.brocku.ca/miwsfpa), a beautiful facility encompassing nearly 100,000 sq.ft. of artistic brilliance in our downtown core. To call this an exciting addition to our downtown would be an understatement!
Up the hill and fronting onto St.Paul Street you will find the First Ontario Performing Arts Centre (www.firstontariopac.ca) which is arguably the gem of the downtown. With multiple venues offering all aspects of performance, this is a place you can catch a beautiful performance of a Beethoven Symphony, get down and funky with Maceo Parker, watch an independent movie in the movie house, spoken word performance, an international Ballet company, stand up comedians, rock or virtually anything you can imagine. All in a striking, top notch facility that will make you proud to call St.Catharines home.
Looking for food and beverage? Look no further. There are beautiful cafes, micro-brew pubs, high-end Italian or steak houses, live music bars, bistros and just about anything you could need. Have a stroll down St.Paul, Queen, James and King and you’ll quickly get the idea. Have a visit to www.mydowntown.ca for some more help on this front.
Now on to the real estate side of things. Built for the most part in the 1920s to 40s (some newer, some older), this neighbourhood starts in the Yates Heritage District, moves across Montebello Park to Queen St and Wellington and across Welland where you will find a large section of character homes all the way north to Carlton.
The Yates Heritage District is a small pocket of homes right next to the downtown core. Lined with grand homes, some full-on estate properties, this is a gorgeous community where neighbours know their neighbours and pride of ownership is in abundance. If you are in the market for a larger home, these lovely homes, built in the early 1900s for the most part, should be on your list.
Another popular but often unknown pocket of homes is found on the west side of Ontario in Woodruff Estates. With only a few points of access, this is a quiet enclave of larger character homes that feel like a smaller, quieter version of Yates. Stop in and have a stroll down Thairs and Woodruff and you’ll see what we mean.
Now to the heart of the downtown core. You’ll find streets like Albert, Chaplin, Beech, Dufferin, Henry, Lowell and Pleasant. In general, you will find bungalow, 1.5 storey and 2 storey homes many with mature trees, covered porches and pleasant curb appeal.
One thing to watch out for is that these homes were built in the days of knob and tube wiring and galvanized plumbing so knowing what you are looking at should be a huge priority. The good news is that many of these homes have changed hands and had those ‘old home’ features brought up to current standards.
Whether you live on Yates, Thairs or Chaplin, you’ll love the proximity of your home to Montebello Park. Fun fact…the park was designed by Frederick Olmsted who also designed Central Park in New York City. The site of outdoor movie screenings, the Folk Arts Festival, Rib Fest and the Niagara Wine Festival to name a few, this is definitely a hotspot of activity in the warmer months of the year.
For a tour or conversation about life in this area of town, feel free to reach out and contact us at anytime.
We look forward to hearing from you!