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The History Of Brockville - City of the 1000 Islands

Brockville Court HouseBrockville is located in the Thousand Islands region on the St. Lawrence River in Leeds & Grenville County, Eastern Ontario, Canada.

Known as the "City of the 1000 Islands", Brockville is located on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, directly opposite Morristown, New York, about half-way between Cornwall in the east and Kingston in the west and a little over an hour's drive south of the nation's capital, Ottawa. Brockville is one of the oldest cities in Ontario and is named after the British general Sir Isaac Brock.
 This area of Ontario was first settled in 1785 by hundreds of American refugees who later became known as United Empire Loyalists for their political position on the side of King George III during the American War of Independence. This struggle between Britain and the 13 American colonies took place in the years 1776 to 1783 and seriously divided loyalties in some colonies such as New York and Vermont. During the 6-year war, which ended with the capitulation of the British forces in 1782, many of those colonists who remained loyal to the crown were frequently subject to harsh reprisals and unfair dispossession of property. Many "Loyalists" chose to flee north to the then British colony of Quebec. Later this western region of Canada was opened and settled by English-speaking refugees of the past American war. The St. Lawrence River, which flows between Brockville and Morristown, New York, was named by French explorers in the 1700s to commemorate the martyred Roman Christian, Saint Laurentis. The small inlet on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River had been a natural resting point for French voyageurs in the past. In 1785 the first U.E. Loyalist to take up land here on the site of Brockville was a disbanded ensign with the King's Rangers from the state of New York, William Buell Sr. (1751-1832). The initial settlement on this site was commonly referred to as "Buell's Bay". Around 1810 the village was designated as Elizabethtown by government officials of Upper Canada. Leading residents of the small village decided, about 1812, that it might be appropriate to suggest a name which differed from the surrounding township of Elizabethtown.

 This was during the ensuing second war with Canada's American neighbours, known as the War of 1812. The commanding ranking British General in Upper Canada and the temporary administrator of the province was Major-General Isaac Brock who was celebrated as the "Hero and Saviour" of Upper Canada because of his recent success in securing the surrender of Fort Detroit. Perhaps to curry favour with Gen Brock, certain leading citizens in the village including Charles Jones, proposed the name of Brockville and began using this new name in their correspondence and dealings with Isaac Brock who was also the civil administrator of the province. Gen. Brock was soon involved in other battles on the Niagara Peninsula, and on October 13, 1812, he was fatally shot while leading his troops up the heights near the village of Queenston, then being held by American militia. The general had been aware of the honour being offered by the residents of Elizabethtown but may have been unable to give it his official blessing before his death. The new name was later accepted by the provincial bureaucrats and soon became commonly used by residents and visitors. In 1830 the growing population of Brockville had managed to exceed the 1000 mark. This entitled it to be represented by its own elected member in the House of Assembly, and Henry Jones, the village postmaster, was elected in October 1830 to the 11th Parliament of the Province. Brockville became Ontario's first incorporated self-governing town on January 28, 1832, two years before the town of Toronto. By means of the Brockville Police Act, passed by the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada, Brockville was given the right to govern its own affairs, pass laws and raise taxes. The first elections for the new Board of Police were held on April 2, 1832 to choose 4 members to the Board. These four in turn chose a fifth member, Daniel Jones, who was also chosen as the first Police Board president or Mayor of Brockville. This was the gentleman who in March 1836 became the first native Upper Canadian to receive a royal knighthood from King William IV, and became "Sir Daniel Jones".

Court House Ave 1928The town became a local centre of industry including shipbuilding, saddleries, tanneries, tinsmiths, a foundry, a brewery, and several hotels in the 1800s. By 1854, a patent medicine industry had sprung up in Brockville and in bordering Morristown, NY featuring products such as Dr Morse's Indian Root Pills, Dr. McKenzie's Worm Tablets and later, Dr. Williams' Pink Pills for Pale People.
The south portal of the Brockville Railway Tunnel, Canada's first railway tunnel, opened in 1860.
The south portal of the Brockville Railway Tunnel, Canada's first railway tunnel, opened in 1860.
The CPR caboose or "van" donated to Brockville by the Canadian Pacific Railway for display. It is located on the waterfront near the tunnel.
The CPR caboose or "van" donated to Brockville by the Canadian Pacific Railway for display. It is located on the waterfront near the tunnel.

In 1855, Brockville was chosen as a divisional point on the line of the new Grand Trunk Railway, which was built and opened from Montreal to Toronto. At the same time, the north-south line of the Brockville & Ottawa Railway was built as a transportation link to join the St. Lawrence River ship route with the timber trade of the Ottawa Valley. A well-engineered tunnel for this railway was dug and blasted underneath the middle of Brockville from 1854 to 1860. This was the first railway tunnel of its kind created and opened in Canada, and remains in place for visitors to enter and experience.

Brockville and many other towns in Canada West became involved in the threatened Fenian invasion following the close of the American Civil War in 1865. In June 1866, the Irish-American "Brotherhood of Fenians" invaded Canada. Raids were launched across the Niagara River into Canada West and from Vermont into Canada East. Canadian Premier John A. Macdonald called on all the volunteer militia companies in every town to protect Canada. Court House Ave FountainThe Brockville Infantry Company and Brockville Rifle Company were mobilized to protect Brockville. These unsuccessful Fenian Raids were a significant factor leading to the creation of the new Dominion of Canada in 1867.

Brockville was granted the official status as a City in 1962. Its coat of arms features a beehive surrounded by a golden chain and bears the motto Industria, Intelligentia, Prosperitas. This is an official heraldic design. Brockville is also one of the few cities that has a recognized heraldic flag.

From Wikipedia

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