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Complete Moving Guide to St. Catharines

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St. Catharines is known as “The Garden City” because of its impressive number of parks, gardens and wineries. It also prominently features the Welland Canal, the only way for ships to travel between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

If you are interested in moving to “St. Kitts,” you can learn more about the city here.

St. Catharines Climate

St. Catharines' geography causes it to have a slightly unusual humid continental climate. While the city does go through typical four season cycles, Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and the Niagara Escarpment alter the weather. The lakes keep winters from getting too harsh, but can also cool St. Catharines in spring and allow for periods of lake-effect snowfall. Meanwhile, the Niagara Escarpment shelters the city from winds and some thunderstorms.

Summers can get quite warm with highs regularly reaching 27 degrees Celsius. It may feel even warmer because St. Catharines usually has high humidity. The city also can get cold in winter with January lows frequently dropping to -8.

St. Catharines Neighbourhoods

Six wards comprise St. Catharines: Port Dalhousie, Grantham, St. George’s, St. Patrick’s, St. Andrew’s and Merritton. Many distinct neighbourhoods, which are often defined by their topography, are within those wards. Louth is the winery-filled agricultural centre that takes up most of the west side of the city. Michigan Beach is a neighbourhood that is almost entirely on the coast of Lake Ontario and draws tourists during the warmer months.

St. Catharines' downtown neighbourhood has undergone extensive revitalization efforts in the past decade. Following the widespread loss of manufacturing jobs, there were many vacant Downtown buildings and no real reason to go into the centre of the city. The city’s strategies of rerouting wine tours through downtown, adding two way streets and building a few city centres, have brought new life to the area.

Registering Your Car in St. Catharines

St. Catharines is located in southern Ontario, so if you are moving there from outside of the province, you must register your car according to the local regulations. Registration requires you to have a variety of personal and vehicle identification documents and pay small fees for the service. To learn specific details on the vehicle registration process, head to Service Ontario.

St. Catharines Transportation

St. Catharines’ most important transportation route may be nautical. The Welland Canal, which connects Lake Ontario with Lake Erie, travels through the city and allows ships to move between the lakes. Four of the canal's locks are in St. Catharines, so Welland Canal is a major part of the city’s aesthetic and purpose.
The St. Catharines Transit Commission provides the city’s working residents with public busing services. All the city’s bus routes pass through the downtown headquarters of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.

Via Rail and Go Transit provide St. Catharinites inter-city travel options by rail and bus, respectively. St. Catharines/Niagara District Airport is just outside of the city but does not schedule departing flights and only covers general aviation. The closest international airport is the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, which is located in the US. If you want to stay in Canada, the Toronto Pearson International Airport is a viable option since it is less than an hour’s drive away.

St. Catharines Schools

The Niagara District School Board manages St. Catharines’ public English-speaking schools, including six secondary schools in the city. The Niagara Catholic District School Board is the public Catholic district and oversees three schools in St. Catharines.

Brock University is St. Catharines' biggest post-secondary institution. Hamilton’s McMaster University also has a satellite campus located in St. Catharines.

St. Catharines Economy

St. Catharines, like many Canadian cities, has an outdated reputation for manufacturing. General Motors Canada maintains operations within the city and it still is one of St. Catharines' biggest employers, but the impact of manufacturing in St. Catharines has dropped significantly in recent years. The District School board of Niagara has now overtaken GM as the city’s leading employer. Other prominent businesses include:
  • Niagara Health System
  • Brock University
  • Sitel (a customer service company)
The lack of new manufacturing jobs has hurt St. Catharines' economy. The unemployment rate is 6.9 percent, which is higher than the 6.6 national average. However, considering that the rate was closer to nine percent just a few years ago, it seems the city has recovered nicely. St. Catharines’ prime location on the Welland Canal and between the Greater Toronto Area and the US border can keep the city relevant in worldwide commerce even when its manufacturing sector falters.

St. Catharines Cost of Living

St. Catharines has an average cost of living when compared to similar Canadian cities. For example, St. Catharines’ rent prices are about 17 percent lower than they are in Hamilton, but groceries and public transportation cost roughly 10 percent more. Meanwhile, utility prices are practically identical for the two Southern Ontario cities.

St. Catharines Culture and Contemporary Life

St. Catharines is called “The Garden City” for good reason; there are over four square kilometres of parks, gardens, wineries and trails in the city. Montebello Park is probably the city’s most famous park. It was designed by the same man who helped create New York City’s Central Park and it houses the city’s largest rose garden.

St. Catharines' mild climate and rich, glacially deposited soil allow the city to feature several vineyards. Henry of Pelham Winery, Hernder Estates and Harvest Estates are all located in the western Louth neighbourhood and produce world-class wine.

St. Catharines isn’t an incredibly urban city, but there are more activities in the downtown area. You can discover eclectic bars, shops and restaurants by strolling down James Street or King Street. Downtown St. Catharines’ Farmer’s Market is held a few times a week and has roots that go back to the 1860s.
Art enthusiasts should visit Rodman Hall, the city’s largest art gallery. This formally public art gallery is now owned by Brock University, so it serves as a teaching tool as well as a tourist attraction. The CRAM Gallery is on the other end of the spectrum. It only features local artists’ work and is the smallest gallery in Canada.

Seasonal festivals are also a huge part of St. Catharines’ culture:
  • Folk Art Festival: This May event takes place in Montebello Park and shows off art from different ethnic communities in the Niagara region.
  • Niagara Grape and Wine Festival: This festival is actually three separate events for the wines that are in-season. It draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to St. Catharines each year.
  • International Chicken Chucking Championships: Perhaps not a full-scale festival, but too odd to ignore; this chicken-chucking event is held in January outside of the Kilt and Clover, a Port Dalhousie pub. Contestants throw or slide frozen chickens across the frozen Martindale Pond like they’re curlers. All the money raised by the event goes to local charities and the chickens themselves become dog food.

St. Catharines Moving Resources

Have you decided to move to St. Catharines? has a database of moving companies that are ready to assist anyone moving in the St. Catharines area. Get at least three quotes from different companies so you can compare prices and get a good deal on your relocation.

St. Catharines Relocation Tips

  • You have several options for nearby international airports, but the Niagara District airport doesn’t have outgoing flights.
  • Jobs in manufacturing are on the decline. Consider a career in education or service if you want to maximize your chances of getting a job in St. Catharines.
  • Although the city is recovering, there are still several vacant areas that you may want to avoid in the more urban parts of town.

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on April 8, 2015 - Moving Expert
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