Well today we are literally streets ahead as we speak about the story of the only Waterford street named after a country, one of the biggest indeed. This is the story of Canada Street, mainly because it always intrigued me since the time I first came to Waterford as to the why and when it was so named. Thanks as usual to Daniel Dowling enthralling tome on the history of Waterford’s streets, we can bring you that story today. This side of Waterford City was initially opened up to literally create a ‘new-town’ as a consequence when a bridge was built over the Pill at Lombard Street in 1726. This new way cut through the extensive Lombard Marsh. The Peoples Park was created out of part of this marsh much later (1857).

So back to Canada Street’s origins which was initially layed out and constructed as early as 1828. In that year the Corporation invited proposals for the construction of a roadway from the end of William Street to the River Suir and from St John’s Pill to William Street. The area upon which this new street was laid out was across the low-lying boggy ground of what was the Lombard Marsh as alluded to above. Remember this whole area remained to subject to regular flooding until recent times –extensive and expensive drainage work eventually alleviated the problem though the Park itself still has problematic areas following periods of heavy rain combining with neap tides. However it’s nowhere as bad as it used to be – last week a case in point.

By mid century the street had more development on it. In 1850 there were 12 tenements consisting of 7 houses, as well as four offices and a yard.

Canada Bound

But answer to our initial query still stands as to the Canada connection – well let’s deal without further ado. Located in the townland of Newtown in the civil parish of St John’s Without this street derived its name from the Canadian emigrant and timber trade. What’s the connection between those two activities you may well ask. In 1828 Watson and Graves the local agents who had their offices here were advertising on behalf of the Canada Company fro those with an agricultural background and farming experience who were willing to emigrate and settle on the lands of Upper Canada. The Company only wanted those with sober, honest and industrious habits.

One seventh of the Province had been allocated to the Canada Company as well as a million acres on the shores of Lake Huron in the Western and London districts. Very favourable terms were being offered to individuals, families and groups who were willing to emigrate and settle on the new lands then being opened up. As Watson and Graves were in the shipping business they had contracted to carry those willing to emigrate on the terms offered. On the homeward voyages the ships returned with cargoes of timber, a lot of which was landed in, yes you guessed it, the Canada Street area. The area of this street at the junction with Newtown Road was known as Canada Place and is shown by that by that name on the OS map of 1841. An interesting name in itself as I visited its magnificent name-sake in Vancouver, Canada, standing proud as it faces the north west Pacific-facing coast of British Columbia. To conclude, back here Suirside in the early years of its existence, our Place was the venue for the annual visits of the circus. In 1835 the celebrated Batty’s Circus performed here. So that’s the story behind our Canada Street and how it got its big name. The street has enjoyed a strong revival in its buildings and activities with apartments, hotel, boat-club, offices, restaurant and pub.

Birthday Celebrations at the Woodlands.

Coming closer to home, in fact under my very Brasscock View witnessed the Woodlands celebrate its 10th Birthday last Saturday. An anniversary worthy of celebration as it has truly become a valued amenity at the very centre of things in this neck of the Woods out here in Brasscockland! In recent much trumpeted Knockboy/City Development plans the need of amenities such as a community centre was highlight but don’t hold your breath. Meanwhile our local hotel has served us well as a focus for the community out here. It is hard to imagine now how we survived so long without this hotel on our doorstep, especially when it comes to the coming and goings of life such as christenings, weddings and funerals. Indeed each week, even each day sees the place dealing with some event or other. It could be a visiting soccer or rugby team, a bridge tournament or congress, jobs and investment conferences, exam centre, church synod, annual Mercy nuns gathering, balloon launches, Cheltenham Racing Charity Night, car rally or cycle tour base, civic local consultations, trade exhibitions. The list goes on – impressive in its variety and range. In addition to these is the usual repertoire of dinner-dances and balls which is the bread and butter/caviar of the hospitality industry. The extensive parking of the Woodlands is a key and valued asset, of course.

Not Strictly Dancing

Alongside is its well established Leisure Centre with its first-class facilities and pool and has a good membership base both drawn locally and city-wide. Then each day the hotel plays host and provides facilities for a variety of community based activities such as on Mondays dancing classes with Betty Bible Dancing School: Tuesdays the Business Network Organization meets; Wednesdays, poker classic night; Thursday, Waterford Bridge Club and so on it goes. As I said already where else hereabouts could all these activities take place? But the place is also a regular hotel with 48 bedrooms, restaurant and popular bar – The Brasscock! The Woodlands is a valuable local employer. The hotel as such is valuable local amenity attracting good business and thus employment to the area. Like other hotels they have a good entertainment programmes at weekends and all geared up with a gala Christmas and New Year programme. So folks go out and support your local hotel- we have some fine hotels in Waterford, so wherever you are get on the glad-rags and Come Dancing!

Go Seachtain Eile, Slan.