St. Catharines is located on the south shore of Lake Ontario about 35 miles (56 km) east of Hamilton and about the same distance northwest of Buffalo. It lies on the Welland Canal, an important waterway bypassing Niagara Falls to link Lakes Ontario and Erie. It is also the center of the Niagara fruit-growing region. Industries include shipbuilding and ship repair, food processing, and various manufacturers.
St. Catharines was named in honor of the first wife of Robert Hamilton, a member of the first legislative council of Upper Canada. Established in 1790, it was incorporated as a city in 1876. Brock University is located on the Niagara escarpment overlooking the city from the south.