Cooks Mills, Niagara Region, Ontario


Cooks Mills, Niagara Region, Ontario

Cooks Mills is a small community in the easternmost part of the city of Welland in Ontario, Canada. It has been established, and is still centred, on a Welland River tributary called Lyons Creek. It's almost entirely a bedroom community, as there are no companies located in the area.

History

The community actually predates the establishment of what is now downtown Welland. In 1799, when present-day Welland was but a couple of farms, the Yokom family came from Pennsylvania and built a grist mill on Lyon's Creek. (Today, one of the roads in Cooks Mills is called Yokom Road after them). Just before the War of 1812, an Englishman called Calvin Cook purchased the mill and added a tannery, a sawmill and a distillery. The place known as "Cook's Mills" became a prominent community of the Crowland Township; some early maps call the location Crowland Village.

In the second to last engagement of the War of 1812 on Canadian soil, on October 13, 1814, the Battle of Cook's Mills took place in the area, with the British and American forces pushing each other back and forth across Lyon's Creek. The American forces took Cook's Mills and burned about 200 bushels of wheat before retreating.

Originally, Lyon's Creek headwaters were in the Wainfleet Marsh. However, they were cut off by the construction of the Feeder Canal for the Welland Canal. The creek was carried under the canal through a stone culvert. Due to the construction, the water level in the marsh slowly receded. All the while, the culvert was being clogged up by debris. Eventually, the flow in Lyons Creek decreased to the extent when it was no longer able to turn the water wheels at Cook's Mills. The industries were closed and abandoned. Thus, the Canal, which contributed greatly to development of Welland, became an indirect cause of an economic recession for Cook's Mills. Later on, Welland beat out neighbouring communities in the running for the county seat. Cook's Mills found itself becoming a farming area as opposed to Welland's developing industry.

Over time, the apostrophes indicating the possessive in both Lyon's Creek and Cook's Mills were dropped following a trend in the region exemplified by St. Catharines and St. Johns.

On January 1, 1961, the Crowland Township, including Cooks Mills, was incorporated into the City of Welland.

By the time of construction of the Welland By-Pass in 1967-1973, the original headwaters in the Wainfleet Marsh have all but disappeared, and most of what flow there was in the creek was coming from an earlier tributary called Indian Creek by some maps. This made Lyons Creek somewhat U-shaped, as Indian Creek flowed west before joining the original Lyons Creek. During the By-Pass construction, the creek was cut into three parts, and now what was once Indian Creek flows into the canal ( [http://maps.google.ca/maps?ll=42.947596,-79.232154&spn=0.003872,0.007298&t=k photo] ). A couple kilometres north, Lyons Creek is fed directly from the canal ( [http://maps.google.ca/maps?ll=42.974880,-79.220213&spn=0.003870,0.007298&t=k photo] ). The middle part of the creek dried up and much of its bed was torn up during the construction of approaches to the Townline Tunnel.

In a recent development, a study on the pollutants in the Niagara River done in 2000 found the organic pollutants polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) to be present in the Lyons Creek. The Ontario Ministry of the Environment is presently investigating the source of PCBs and possible remedial actions to deal with contaminated sediment.

Geography

As noted previously, the Welland By-Pass channel separates Cooks Mills from the main urbanized area of City of Welland. The most direct ways of crossing the channel are the Main Street and Townline Tunnels.

Built-up areas in Cooks Mills are located close to the roads; the rest of the area consists mainly of wooded lots and fields. The Niagara Road 27, commonly known as Schisler Road, linking Welland and Niagara Falls, runs to the north of the centre of the community, and Highway 140 runs to the west, while Montrose Road runs to the east, and Netherby Road runs to the south.

The main area of Welland is located to the west. To the east is Niagara Falls, to the north is Thorold, and to the south is Port Colborne.

External links

* [http://maps.google.ca/maps?q=doan%27s+ridge+%26+lyons+creek,+welland,+on&spn=0.041993,0.058382&t=k Cooks Mills in Google Satellite Maps] . Lyons Creek is visible flowing from west to east just south of Lyons Creek Road
* [http://www.niagararails.com/maps.shtml Niagara Rails' Railway Maps] has maps outlining the By-Pass project, including [http://www.niagararails.com/cgi-bin/img.cgi?/maps/wcrp/netherby.jpgthe Cooks Mills section]
* [http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/moescripts/format-env.asp?format=pdf The Ontario Ministry of the Environment study of Niagara River] (PDF format)

References

* Lewis, William H. "Aqueduct Merrittsville and Welland : a history of the city of Welland : the beginning years", A.M.W Publications, 1997. ISBN 0-9682743-0-7.


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