St. Catharines is home to Brock University (established 1964), a modern comprehensive university located on the Niagara Escarpment. A partnership between the university and the Ontario Grape and Wine Industry established the city as a centre for cool-climate grape and wine research. "Brock" offers an Honours Bachelor of Science in Oenology and Viticulture.
McMaster University's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine opened a satellite campus in St. Catharines in September 2008. The Hamilton, Ontario-based university educates 28 first-year medical students in local hospitals within the city. Ridley College, located near the city's downtown core in the Western Hill neighbourhood, is a distinguished co-educational boarding and day school. It was established as a boys' school in 1889, and became co-educational in 1973.
A campus of the Niagara College of Applied Arts and Technology is located near the city's east end. Niagara College is the only fully licensed teaching winery in Canada. The "Niagara College Teaching Winery" (or NCT for short) has created award winning wines. Niagara College has also taken home various medals from international wine competitions such as "Cuvee", "The Ontario Wine Awards" and "The Finger Lakes International Competition" to name a few. The school's Horticultural Campus was once located on 360 Niagara Street in the 1970s-1990s but has since been relocated to Niagara-on-the-Lake. One of its greatest teachers, R. Roy Forster, was recognized with the Order of Canada on April 14, 1999, for his work in creating the VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The District School Board of Niagara (DSBN), responsible for managing a school system of nearly 119 faculties, contains 8 Secondary Schools in the city of St. Catharines, Kernahan Park, Laura Secord, Sir Winston Churchill, Governor Simcoe, St. Catharines Collegiate, Eden, West Park, and Lakeport. The Niagara Catholic District School Board (NCDSB) manages 61 elementary and secondary schools within the Niagara Region and operates 3 Catholic Secondary Schools within the city, Holy Cross, Denis Morris Catholic High School, and St. Francis.
Sports and Leisure
St. Catharines entered into the Ontario Hockey Association Junior 'A' Hockey in 1943 as the St. Catharines Falcons. In 1947, they became the Teepees and were affiliated with the American Hockey League's Buffalo Bisons. When the National Hockey League's (NHL) Chicago Black Hawks made the Bisons their number one farm team, they inherited the Teepees. In the 1960s, the Jr. 'A' team went deeply into debt to the Chicago Black Hawks, but continued as a successful franchise and were named the St. Catharines Black Hawks. The Hamilton Fincups moved to St. Catharines in 1976 and played here for one year before moving back to Hamilton. The AHL St. Catharines Saints played in St. Catharines between 1982 and 1986, before being forced to re-locate to Newmarket due to protests from the NHL Buffalo Sabres. The St. Catharines Saints served as the farm team for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and today are known as the Toronto Marlies.
A new OHL team returned to St. Catharines, in time for the 2007-2008 season. The Niagara IceDogs play out of Jack Gatecliff Arena, within the newly named Gatorade Garden City Complex. The city's Junior 'B' Hockey team, the St. Catharines Falcons, also plays out of the complex.
The city was the home of the New York - Penn League's St. Catharines Blue Jays, the Short-season A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, from 1986 to 1999. In 1996 the team was renamed the St. Catharines Stompers, and was subsequently sold and relocated to Queens, New York City in late 1999, where they became the Queens Kings.
St. Catharines Bobcats were the first team to be announced in a re-launced Canadian rugby league.
The Canadian Soccer League's St. Catharines Wolves are one of the most successful professional soccer teams in Canada, and play at Club Roma in the west-end of the city.
Martindale Pond in St. Catharines' Port Dalhousie is the site of the annual Royal Canadian Henley Regatta, a world-class event that brings over 3,000 athletes from various nations to the city. The site hosted the FISA World Rowing Championships in both 1970 and in 1999. More recently, the World Master's Rowing Championship was held at the Martindale Pond in the summer of 2010, with $500,000 in improvements to the facility such as: a weed harvester, new docking and a new timing system. There are currently talks to bring the Canadian Rowing Hall of Fame to St. Catharines sometime in the near future. The pond is also home to the St. Catharines rowing club, Brock University rowing club, Ridley College rowing club and to the annual CSSRA Championships, which draws hundreds of high school athletes from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. The Martindale Pond or Henley, continues to hold its world-renowned status as a major rowing venue in the world. The rowing event in the Pan American Games will be held in St. Catharines in 2015. Two Olympic medallists in rowing hail from St. Catharines, including Melanie Kok and Buffy Williams.
The city's trail system offers over 90 kilometres (55 mi) of accessible pathways that are suitable for walking, jogging, cycling, hiking and cross-country skiing.
A dedicated group of local paddlers and businesses is trying to bring a Whitewater facility, suitable for hosting world-class kayaking events, to the City of St. Catharines. The proposed course would utilize the Wellandvale stretch of Twelve Mile Creek, near the downtown core. If made reality, the project would be Canada's first urban Whitewater facility.
Plans for the facility were made public in Toronto's bid to host the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. When Toronto lost the bid to Beijing, the Niagara Whitewater Park Association was created to keep the project alive. In September 2006, the St. Catharines Standard reported that St. Catharines Hydro is in talks with Ontario Power Generation to construct a small generating station adjacent to the proposed site of the Whitewater facility. The proposed Shickluna Generating Station would create electricity for up to 5,000 homes while regulating waterflow to the course. Unfortunately the cost of operating the course was found to be aprox. $200,000 per year and the funds could not be found. The proposal has been tabled until an alternative can be found.
Arts and Culture
The St. Catharines and Area Arts Council is a not-for-profit organization working to facilitate communication, collaboration and programs among artists, arts organizations and the community with the goal of enhancing cultural life.
Rodman Hall runs a diverse program of exhibitions throughout the year, featuring the work of local, national and international artists. It also houses a permanent collection of over 850 works including paintings, photographs, sculptures and outdoor installations. Rodman Hall was a public-run gallery from 1960 to 2003 when financial issues provoked Brock University to purchase the building. Today, it is affiliated with the Brock School of Fine and Performing Arts and continues to serve and welcome the public.
The Niagara Artists' Centre (NAC) is a not-for-profit, charitably registered, collective formed by local community artists and dedicated to serving the working artists and art-enthusiasts of Niagara. It runs a series of diverse exhibitions throughout the year involving abstract paintings, sculptures, new media installations and film screenings. Recently, the Niagara Artists' Centre moved out of its former location on Bond St. to a newly renovated storefront building on St. Paul Street in the city's downtown.
The Folk Arts Festival was first presented to the city by representatives from the ethno cultural communities of Niagara over 35 years ago. From that first festival was created the Folk Arts Council of St. Catharines, which continues to run its festival each year throughout the month of May and concludes with "Folk Arts in the Park", which takes place in Montebello Park in the city's downtown.
The Art of Peace Festival is now in its fifth year, the Festival seeks to increase community engagement in art as a tool for reflecting on peace issues. Montebello Park fills with performing arts events, Speak Your Peace! open mic program, community art workshops, an elementary school art exhibition, vendors, and Peace Through Art Stations at which peace groups make information available and offer arts activities. Presented by St. Catharines and Area Arts Council and Project Ploughshares Niagara.
The Niagara Grape & Wine Festival is a non-profit organization that presents three popular wine festivals in St. Catharines and Niagara during the year. The Niagara Icewine Festival (Winter), the Niagara New Vintage Festival (Summer), and the Niagara Wine Festival (Fall), which is the largest of the festivals, attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to the region each year. This event known by most locals simply as "Grape and Wine" attracts young and old varying from partiers to wine connoisseurs.
The SCENE Music Festival is one-day event held in various clubs and pubs downtown. Rock, indie, pop, singer-songwriter, ska, punk, metal, and many other genres are represented by bands such as Alexisonfire, Bedouin Soundclash, Moneen, Del Tha Funky Homosapien, Damn 13, Shad, Sick Boys, Raising the Fawn, Supergarage, Sailboats Are White, Revenge of the Egg People, IllScarlett, Silverstein, Bang Theory, Dead and Divine, Teenage Head, Cancer Bats, The New Cities, Lights, Madball, Billy Talent and Down with Webster who have played at the festival, which has been sponsored by Solo Mobile in the past. Traditionally, a compact disc of select performers is included with admission prices — although in recent years the CD has been expanded to a 2-disc compilation — representative of the growth of the festival. SCENE 2008 and SCENE 2009 included a card with a PIN enabling 50 MP3 downloads, instead of CD's.
The International Chicken Chucking Championships takes place every January in the St. Catharines neighbourhood of Port Dalhousie and attracts hundreds of participants and observers. Chicken Chucking consists of pitching or sliding frozen chickens along the ice-covered Martindale Pond, similar to curling and shuffleboard. The bird-brained fundraiser began in 2000 by patrons of the Kilt and Clover after realizing that there was not much to do in Port Dalhousie in the middle of winter. The Kilt and Clover hosts the event, and the money raised is given to local charities, including the food bank.
The St. Catharines Museum is located at Lock 3 on the Welland Canal, off the Welland Canals Parkway. An elevated viewing platform at the museum allows visitors to get a close-up look at ships from around the world as they climb this major section of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Along with its exhibits dedicated to the city's history and the canals, the museum is home to the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame and Museum.
Morningstar Mill, perched atop the Niagara Escarpment, is one of Ontario's oldest mills on an original site, and is fully powered by water. The picturesque park provides a glimpse into the innovative and pioneering spirit of the 19th Century.
The YMCA Discovery Centre (formerly The Children's Discovery Centre of Niagara), located in the former Niagara College Horticulture School, provides children and their families with an educational yet entertaining and stimulating place to visit using hands-on, interactive exhibits and outdoor activities.
Garden City Productions (formerly the Operatic Society of Grantham United Church 1956-1962) puts on two community theatre shows per year at the Mandeville Theatre in Ridley College.
Theatre in Port put on a year-round schedule of professionally produced musicals, comedies and dramas.
St. Catharines is also home to a variety of theatre companies. These include Carousel Players (located in the Courthouse), Mirror Theatre, Essential Collectives Theatre and the Empty Box Theatre Company.