Where did the origin of this quaint name “Welcome” come from?
No one seems to know. It is known however that it started its life as Power’s Corners and later Guide Board. The latter name originated because of a ‘guide board’ at the villages many intersections here that was used to inform travelers the direction to Canton (north); Port Hope (south); Dale (east) and Toronto (west). Welcome was once the gateway to Eastern Ontario – until the completion of Highway 115 to Peterborough in 1954 and Highway 401 to Port Hope in 1960. Virtually all traffic from Toronto bound for Eastern Ontario passed through this highway junction. In 1943, a small stone monument was erected on the south-east corner at Welcome Corners. This monument reads “In memory of Harry Martyn, 1865 -1937. The first patrolman on the King’s Highways of Ontario, 1918 -1934.” Because there is so little recorded historic information available, this writer has included several paragraphs from early newspaper articles to give readers an insight into the origins and lives of some of the earliest settlers. There is no obvious reasons for settlement here; there are no streams or rivers to power saw or gristmills the usual prerequisite for a growing village. Guide Board was destined it seems to remain a small hamlet even today.
One of the earliest settlers to the Welcome area was William and Phoebe Monaghan who emigrated from Drumragh Parrish , County Tyrone Northern Ireland to Canada in 1831 and settled in Hope Township. From the Port Hope Weekly Guide of October, 1889: “Died, Monaghan – at Port Hope on Wednesday, 2nd of October. Pheobe Mills, relic of the late William Monaghan, aged 86 years. Funeral on Friday at 4 pm. The subject of this brief notice was one of the oldest residents in this part of Ontario, having lived a period of 60 years in the Township of Hope and town of Port Hope. The deceased was a native of Ireland and in the year 1831, in the company of her husband, the late William Monaghan, emigrated from the County of Tyrone. After a stormy voyage lasting several weeks, they landed in Quebec. Another slow and tedious trip was then began towards the west, the Frenchman’s “batteau” the only means of transportation in these times. Mr. & Mrs. Monaghan at last reached this port where they disembarked and drove to Canton or Power’s Corners as it was called then. There they settled for a time, the deceased carrying on a small and boot trade. Yielding to the opportunities of friends in the States the emigrates sold out and went to Philadelphia, then to Utica and later to Watertown, In Jefferson County New York where they lived for some years, afterwards coming back to Canada. Subsequently the removed to “the Guide Board” now Welcome, where they lived for a good number of years before coming to Port Hope. Deceased husband died in 1874.”
According to the 1880 Dodd’s Directory, “William opened a boot and shoe store in Canton Village, formerly Hope Church centrally located in Hope Township on Lots 12 and 13 in the 4th Concession. Shortly after the family moved to the United States, where his prayer book brought with him from Ireland, he states “…he came to Watertown on May 5th 1832 to Jefferson County State of New York America.” John and Rachel were born in Watertown on 04 September 1832 and 04 September 1835. They returned to Canton, Hope Township by the birth of their third child, Charles on09 August 1838 where they settled on Lots 12 and 13 in the second and third Concession of Hope. Margaret Jane was born on 27 June 1840, William James on 22 December 1842 and Phoebe Ann on 08 October 1844. In May 1845 both Charles and William James died from causes unknown. The last child, Thomas Orr, was born 28 November 1846.”
An article from the Port Hope Guide 31 March 1855 had the following advertisement: “To let, that tavern located at the Guide Board and known as “The Three- Mile House” for particulars apply to the proprietor on the premises. WN Monaghan”. On March 10, 1856, “The Guide” reported the following event under the Heading Police Court: “Monday, February 25, 1856 – William Monaghan was charged by Robert Irvine, keeper of the check gate on the Guide Board Road, with passing his gate without paying the toll. The prosecutor being sworn testified the defendant and his man passed through the gate twice, without paying the toll or producing a ticket to show he had done so at the Guide Board gate. The defendant admitted this statement to be correct. He did not pay his toll at the check gate for the simple reason he had paid it to the keeper of the gate, he did not produce the ticket because he had none to produce, and by arrangement that was common with many persons in the neighborhood he had made with Irvine in these occasions, none was required of him. Moore Fanning, the keeper of the toll gate at Guide Board, having being examined, he substantiated the statement of the defendant and the case was dismissed, the prosecutor paying the costs”. William Monaghan passed away from apoplexy in April 1874 and was buried in St. John’s Anglican Cemetery, Port Hope, his wife Pheobe. died of old age in October 1889 and is buried beside him.
Welcome was established on Lots 12 and 13, in the Third Line of Hope township about three miles from Port Hope, on the Toronto Gravel Road. The village and adjoining lands were first settled in 1805-10 by the Hagerman, Low, Crippen and Redford families. In 1825 Noah Wood commenced a blacksmith business which he soon sold to Mr. Williams Parsons who in a few years later sold the business to Thomas Oak. In 1830, Mr. Westlick built his wagon shop which was later owned by Thomas Robertson and it was known as the Welcome Carriage Works and in 1837, Allen’s Tavern flourished at Guide Board. Grimson’s Wagon and Founds Blacksmith and Wagon Shop were also established at an early date.
Around 1843, The Bible Christians erected on a lot adjoining what was previously John Brownscobes Pottery Works at the foot of the hill, a home meeting house which formed the nucleous of a large church congregation in the small village. The Welcome Bible Christian Church became the Welcome Methodist Church in 1884 and later the Welcome United Church in 1925 and is located west of the four corners near the corner of Toronto Road (Old Highway 2) on Line Three, Hope Township. The Welcome Church Cemetery property was purchased from Jeremiah Parker, Lot 11 Concession 2, Hope Township about a mile south of the church, which explains why the cemetery is some distance south of the church. The original parcel of two acres were purchased and arrangements were made for an additional five acres of land be made available to the Congregation by the Parker executors, the site has now grown to seven acres in size. On an interesting note, the large ‘Welcome’ wrought iron sign over the gate posts for the cemetery has at one time been removed, it seems the name was inappropriate for the cemetery here.
As with most villages, Welcome acquired a post office very early when its population was about 200 people, with William Hill as its postmaster. A later post office in the early 1900’s and was located in the Pudhope Carriages factory building located on the south-east corner of the road intersection, Jack Whelan’s Garage and Gas Station was located on the north-east side of Welcome Corners. Several of these historic buildings were demolished for the realignment and sightlines of what is now Welcome Corners, the only signs of them are grassy patches along the highway. The first village school, SS #4 was built east of the village at the intersections of Dale Road (Cty. Road 74) and Choate Road and is now a yellow siding clad private residence. The most recent was the George Hamilton Public School built in 1959 was closed in 2016 due to declining enrolment and the students bussed to other schools in the are. The Municipality of Port Hope purchased the vacant building and its future use is unknown at this time.
Welcome Village has had a few setbacks over the last few decades that have prevented growth. The closing of the well known Welcome Motor Inn which has sat vacant for many years is now a derelict building ready to collapse at any time has recently had a security fence erected around it. (See post: Welcome Motor Inn) This eleven acre property is now owned by the Ministry of Transportation and it has been suggested by some that the town purchase a piece of this prime property for use of the displaced Canadian Firefighters Museum. The former Welcome Produce Market has been purchased and enlarged for the Dancing Bee Equipment business which shows signs of great success. You might ask were this name came from…since honey bees can’t talk, they perform special dances as a means of communication. They use dances to relay different messages, from the need to swarm, to the direction and distance to a source of nectar relative to the sun.
The most recent problem has been a serious issue with some water well contamination. Water quality has been an issue for Welcome since the late 1980’s when the Minister of Environment (MOE) conducted a survey of the water wells in the hamlet. Highway 2 from the area north of the 401 Highway to Regional Road 74 was surveyed. A severe salt impact on the ground water quality was discovered and seasonal road salting was determined as the source of contamination. Twenty-two wells recorded excess allowable limits of chloride (six well were fixed). The Ministry of Environment has been providing the remaining well owners with bottled water for drinking for more than twenty years. By 1990, strides to cost nearby town water was undertaken. The Province has take responsibility for the contaminated well and as a few years ago the problem has been correct by a town water supply to the effected residents.