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NOTL’s railroad helped build tourism

Rick Meloen, chair of the Upper Canada Heritage Trail, will speak at the NOTL Public Library about the history of the railroad in NOTL.
Rick Meloen, chair of the Upper Canada Heritage Trail committee, will speak about the history of the railroad corridor April 22 at the NOTL Public Library.

A history of the railroad corridor, which linked Niagara-on-the-Lake with Niagara Falls, and is now known as the Upper Canada Heritage Trail, will be the focus of Rick Meloen’s Learn & Live session April 22 at the library.

Meloen, a lifelong resident of NOTL, and chair of the Upper Canada Heritage Trail committee, retired in 2009 from the Town of NOTL as supervisor in the roads department, but his keen interest in the history of Niagara has never waned.

During his retirement he was involved with the War of 1812 Bicentennial Committee for NOTL, was co-chair of the Sesquicentennial Committee in town, and a member of the board of directors for the Friends of Fort George. He is also a member of the Niagara Historical Society, where he volunteers as a tour guide.

Meloen told The Local that “the railroad came to the Town of Niagara at a time when the town was undergoing a recession. The second Welland Canal had opened in 1840 and was taking away business from the town. The railroad was seen as competition to the canal and thus promised some prosperity that had been lost.”

“Later the railroad played a part in the burgeoning tourist industry," he added.

Meloen will also talk about Samuel Zimmerman, a railroad promoter and businessman who was instrumental in the construction of the Great Western Railway of Upper Canada.

“The Heritage Trail, which is located on the former railroad right of way, is now under phase two of its construction,” and will also be highlighted, said Meloen.

Learn & Live is a series of talks organized by Terry Mactaggart and Cindy Grant, in partnership with the library, whose staff provides the venue and helps with registration. Learn & Live provides monthly programming on a variety of topics.

Register for A Walk Through History: NOTL’s Upper Canada Heritage Trail, at