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Fun with Highways: Saint Catharines

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Facebook provides a number of interesting statistics about fans, one of which is the cities (or metropolitan areas) in which they reside. The top cities for CatSynth are not surprising: New York City is #1, with San Francisco and other Bay Area communities high on the list. But one has consistently stuck out among the top cities: Saint Catharines, Ontario, Canada. Today we pay tribute to this rather surprising enclave of CatSynth Facebook fans in our own unique way: a “Fun with Highways” article.

Saint Catharines is located in the Niagara region of Ontario, on the southwest edge of Lake Ontario, not far from Niagara Falls. It’s official nickname is the “Garden City” and is unofficially nicknamed “St Kitts” by people in the area (thanks to regular reader Sue St. Clair for providing this insight).

The city is served by two major highways (known as 400-series highways in Ontario): highway 406 and the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW), which connects Buffalo, NY and Niagara Falls to Toronto. The QEW has an interesting history, not only for its name but also its distinction as one of the oldest divided highways in Canada. Below one can see the Garden City Skyway portion of the QEW spanning the city’s other historic transportation feature, the Welland Canal.

[Public domain image via Wikipedia]

One of the first long road trips with my family growing up went through Niagara Falls and Toronto, and I’m sure I passed through Saint Catharines on the QEW with little notice, despite my penchant for staring out the window and observing road signs. One tragic story of the QEW in Saint Catharines involves the death of hockey star Tim Horton in an automobile accident – I mostly know about him not from hockey but as the eponymous late owner of the chain where my friends in Canada go to get their daily coffee.

Interestingly for a highway article, Saint Catharines is also home to the headquarters of the provincial Ministry of Transportation – or rather a headquarters of the Ministry of Transportation, as there seem to be several. Of course, the city is also home to many parks and gardens as the name would imply. One more iconic is Montebello Park.

[Public domain image via Wikipedia.]

The pavilion in the photo above overall has a very classic appearance that one would see in many town parks from this era. But that one structure on the left also evokes a more modernist aesthetic with its unadorned smooth curves. There is something very 1960s about it. Additionally, Montebello Park has a significant connection to Central Park in New York City which I leave as an exercise to the reader.

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