The city was first settled in 1788 by United Empire Loyalists. In 1814, Canadian forces led by the Marquis of Tweedale met American invaders near the present-day townsite. After two days of combat, the Americans retreated to Buffalo, New York, ending the War of 1812.
First called Cooks Mills, then Aqueduct after an old wooden aqueduct on the Welland Canal, then later Merritsville, Welland gained its present name when it was incorporated in 1858. It became a city in 1917.
Manufacturing firms and call centres are the largest employers in Welland.