July 31, 2016

Walkerville History Uncovered only to be Buried Again

Century Old Walkerville cobbles discovered after stripping asphalt away.  Click to enlarge. 

Niagra Street is currently in the process of getting a much needed face lift.  Newer curbs were installed over a decade ago and the street has been on the short list for new asphalt for almost as long.  The Giorgi construction crew uncovered the well preserved, original road pavers that date back to Hiram Walker's day in his corporate town known as Walkerville.  Over twenty years ago when Monmouth Road was resurfaced the same pavers were under a concrete decked road along with rails from an old trolley line that connected Wyandotte and Ottawa streets.  Also unearthed were the original wooden mash pipes (lathed from water resistant cypress wood) that transported grain mash from the distillery on Riverside Drive all the way out to Walker Farms on the northern edge of Windsor Airport.

     Several Monmouth Roadies asked if they could have some of the pavers for landscaping projects but were told by the contractor that the bricks will once again be covered over with asphalt.  Not the best solution for asphalt longevity but no one is complaining because the much needed pavement will quiet down the continuous noise assault from the rattling undercarriages of vehicular traffic.

The same pavers  from Monmouth Road used for landscaping projects.
      If the city of Windsor wants to contribute a much needed  and cost effective neighbourhood improvement they might take this opportunity (while the contractor is there) to cut the pavement out of the south boulevard between Monmouth and Walker to bring it back to it's original grassed and treed glory (see upper left corner of road picture).  This would make the gateway to Willistead Park from Walker Road that much more inviting by reestablishing the tree'd and grassed boulevard that were originally there.  It would also reduce some serious heat island issues.

     Hot asphalt will be laid down starting tomorrow.  If you want to witness history come and go again head over to Niagra Street between Walker and Monmouth Roads.  Although the old street pavers still appear to be in good form they are not.  Their composition is a compressed slurry of what appears to be slag (perhaps from an ancient foundry).  They are gritty, full of cracks and crumble easily.  They have been paved over at least a couple of times before and the asphalt life cycle under that condition seems to be about 25 years.  The pavement develops cracks that establish along the bond pattern of the original bricks.  We can expect this to happen yet again.  Hopefully the next time they repave Niagra Street they will pull them up as they did on Monmouth and put in a new and proper road bed that will foster a better half life.

     Niagra is a very utilitarian street that services not only Old Walkerville but all of the neighbourhoods between Walker and Howard Avenues.  It is an east/west thoroughfare which brings locals to work and back every day.  It is heavily used.   Neighbours who live along the street will tell you that it is noisy with traffic, especially because of the poor condition of the road over the last decade or so.  They will also tell you that although the brick bonded streets are charming and interesting to see, the more modern and much quieter paving material is preferred.  "Kind of like our historical homes" one neighbour said.  "We work very hard at maintaining the historical nature but we are also not afraid to use more modern, safer and efficient materials where they count."   Some pragmatic words.

April 6, 2016

Monmouth Renovation from 1990 Lost and Found

1990 Monmouth Renovation Noticed

   Published in Select Homes and Food October 1990  
Please click on image to enlarge

From a dusty cardboard box discovered on cleaning day April 6, 2016.  This article is about just one of many renovations from the early Monmouth Road days.  The re-gentrification of Monmouth Road started in 1984.  At that time, a handful of auspicious characters took a chance on a street that, until that year, had been pretty much left for dead.  Many believe that the revitalization of this street was the trigger for a renewed interest in Old Walkerville as a whole including it's retail district along Wyandotte East.  Row houses along the 800 block of Monmouth started to get purchased by some pretty risk-taking individuals with long-shot expectations.  Neighbourhood improvements were a part of that push and still are as of  today.  This is just one story about just one of those renovations as written by Diane McDougall.  Please click on the image to enlarge.

October 17, 2014


Tis that season once again.  The fall colours, they are a coming.  The trees in Old Walkerville are just starting to turn.  Now's the time to put on your most comfortable fall gear and your favorite walking shoes.  Don a camera if you can and start snapping this year's colourful scenery.  The stuff that makes Old Walkerville so..."must see" this time of year.  Here are some pics to start you off on your "falling" journey:

The beginning of "Falling" in Old Walkerville. 
 See you out there!