Amherstburg (2016 population: 21,936, urban area: 13,910) is a town near the mouth of the Detroit River in Essex County, Ontario, Canada. In 1796, Fort Malden was established here, stimulating growth in the settlement. The fort has been designated as a National Historic Site.
|Town of Amherstburg|
Sandwich St. at Richmond St
|• Mayor||Aldo DiCarlo|
|• MP||Chris Lewis (Conservative)|
|• MPP||Taras Natyshak (NDP)|
|• Land||185.61 km2 (71.66 sq mi)|
|• Urban||13.51 km2 (5.22 sq mi)|
|• Town (lower-tier)||21,936|
|• Density||118.2/km2 (306/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
|Forward sortation area|
|Area code(s)||519 and 226|
The town is approximately 25 kilometres (16 mi) south of the U.S. city of Detroit, Michigan, facing Wyandotte, Grosse Ile Township, Brownstown Charter Township, Trenton, and Gibraltar, Michigan. It is part of the Windsor census metropolitan area.
The town of Amherstburg comprises a number of villages and hamlets, including the following communities: Amherst Point, Bar Point, Busy Bee Corners, Edgewater Beach, Glen Eden, Lake Erie Country Club, Lakewood Beach, Malden Centre, McGregor (partially), River Canard (partially), Sunset Beach, Willow Beach, Willowood; Golfview, Kingsbridge, Pointe West; Auld, Gordon, Loiselleville, North Malden, Quarries, Southwick, Splitlog; Good Child Beach, The Meadows & Boblo Island
French colonists had settled along what became the Canadian side of the Detroit River during the colonial era, establishing small farms. The Petite Côte settlement was founded along the river to the north.
In 1796, after losing the Thirteen Colonies following the American Revolutionary War, the British established Fort Malden as a military fort overlooking the river's mouth at Lake Erie. It was occupied as a garrison. This stimulated development in the area, as did the Crown granting land in Upper Canada to Loyalists (now known as United Empire Loyalists) in compensation for losses in the Thirteen Colonies, or as payment for service in the military during the war.
The Crown also wanted to increase population and development in Upper Canada. The new settlers built many of their houses in the French style of a century before, giving the new town a historic character. French-speaking colonists also settled here, some of whom were descendants of soldiers and traders associated with Fort Detroit, or other early colonists. They were known as Fort Detroit French, in contrast to later migrants of the 19th century from Quebec, who became known as Canadian French. St. Jean was their Catholic church.
During the days of the Underground Railroad before the American Civil War, refugee African-American slaves often crossed the Detroit river to escape to freedom in Canada, after the Crown abolished slavery. Although Michigan was a free state, slavecatchers went to Detroit trying to capture slaves and take them to owners for bounty. Detroit abolitionists William Lambert and especially George DeBaptiste were key to helping the slaves escape. DeBaptiste owned a lake steamboat that he used to offload refugees in town while docked ostensibly to load lumber. They used Fort Malden as one of several entry points to Canada. The town is mentioned in Uncle Tom’s Cabin as the entry point of George and Eliza, after escaping from slavery in the United States.
By 1869, the town of Amherstburg in the Township of Malden, County of Essex had a population of 2,500. When the fort was no longer needed for military purposes, the government adapted it for use as a provincial "lunatic asylum". Its main building was later used as a Port of Entry, Money Order office, Post Office & savings bank.
Amherstburg was incorporated as a town in 1878. The town is named after Jeffery Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst, commander of the British forces and first British Governor General of the Province of Quebec (1760).
In 1998, The Town of Amherstburg absorbed the neighbouring Township of Anderdon (to its northeast) and Township of Malden (to its southeast) to form a larger Town of Amherstburg.
At 20:01 Eastern Daylight Time on April 19, 2018, a magnitude 3.6 earthquake (with a depth of 7.8 kilometres (4.8 mi)) occurred in Amherstburg, between the main portion of town and McGregor. No damage was reported, but the 30-second shaking was felt in Windsor, Downtown Detroit, and the Downriver communities across the river, such as Grosse Ile, Michigan. Some minor shaking was felt as far away as Toledo, Ohio along Lake Erie and Ann Arbor in the interior of Michigan.
The local public high school in Amherstburg is General Amherst High School, also named after Jeffrey Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst. Although General Amherst High School is located in the town, some youth residents choose to attend Sandwich Secondary School or St. Thomas of Villanova Catholic Secondary School, located near the neighbourhood of River Canard. French-speaking students in Amherstburg may also attend École Secondaire E.J. Lajeunesse, located in Windsor, Ontario. On October 27, 2020 the site plan for a new public high school in Amherstburg was approved. The proposed school is a merger of General Amherst and Western Secondary School, will be built at Centennial Park at the corner of Simcoe and Fryer Streets. The Greater Essex County District School Board says the new school is set to accommodate 819 students and will cost more than $24 million to build. Groundbreaking began November 9 with completion projected in time for the start of the school year in 2022.
Amherstburg is home to several tourist attractions, including Fort Malden and the Amherstburg Freedom Museum (formerly the North American Black Historical Museum). This explores the history of African-American refugees in western Ontario, who sought freedom from slavery and made their homes here.
An Ontario Historical Plaque was erected in Amherstburg by the province to commemorate Bellevue House. Built c. 1816-19, it was the home of Catherine Reynolds, a landscape painter, and her brother Robert Reynolds. Additional tourist attractions include the Park House Museum and King's Navy Yard Park, both of which are located in the heart of old Amherstburg.
The Gibson Gallery is located in a former Michigan Central Railroad Station (c. 1896), which has been fully restored. The gallery operates year-round, featuring exhibits by local artists, the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of Windsor, traveling exhibits from Ontario museums and galleries, and student art/photography exhibits. A restored Essex Terminal railway caboose is operated as a railway museum. Gordon House was built in 1798 as a residence overlooking the Detroit River. Since being restored, it houses a Marine exhibit.
The Holiday Beach Conservation Area is one of the best fall birding sites in North America for viewing migratory birds. The 546-acre (2.21 km2) nature reserve contains over 2,000 feet (610 m) of beaches, picnic areas, a 2-kilometre (6,600 ft) trail along the edge of Big Creek Marsh. Holiday Beach is considered a premiere spot to view the fall migration of raptors (birds of prey). A 'Festival of Hawks' event takes place in September.
BobLo Island, which has been developed into a 240-acre private residential community, also has white sand beaches, full-service marina, nature trails, the BobLo Island Beach House Restaurant, Captain Bob‘s Island Ice Cream and Coffee Cabin and South Beach Water Sports. BobLo is accessible via a 10-minute private ferry ride, which runs every 20 minutes, 365 days per year.
Texas Road is a street popularly associated with paranormal sightings and ghostly experiences. This stretch of road passes through a gully. It has been rumored that a man was murdered there. Since that time people have reported strange disturbances, such as car ignitions failing and paranormal light shows.
Amherstburg is a city of trade and services to support regional agriculture. It has also become known for several wineries in the area. Amherstburg Farmers' Market is open every Saturday, from 8:30am to 3:30pm. The Farmer's Market is located at the Malden Community and Cultural Center, 7860 County Road 20 at the end of Howard Avenue on County Rd 20.
Amherstburg also has a high proportion of retirement residences and second homes.
Local industry includes Diageo, a whiskey bottling plant for the Crown Royal Canadian whiskey, Windsor Mold's Precision Plastics, one of Ontario's largest full-service suppliers of industrial plastics and thermoplastic, and Honeywell Performance Materials and Technology. Marathon Oil has a coke storage site near the river.
Chemical plant historyEdit
The production at the Honeywell plant of hydrofluoric acid (HF) was suspended in October 2013 in favour of a plant in Geismar, Louisiana. The Honeywell plant is used in the production of fuels, refrigerants, and other materials. HF is a precursor to numerous pharmaceuticals, as well as being used to produce Teflon, fluoropolymers and fluorocarbons. Because of its highly corrosive nature, HF is also used to dissolve glass, in glass etching and frosting, and is used in quartz purification, chemical milling, steel pickling and cleaning silicon wafers. It is produced by treating the mineral fluorite with sulfuric acid, which produces hydrogen fluoride and calcium sulfate. The plant, which is located at 395 Front Rd, North, had previously suspended its operations between 1992 and 1996. There is hope locally that production will resume at some future time.
Honeywell now owns the adjacent Brunner Mond chemical plant and soda ash settling basins site, whose former owners, General Chemical Industrial Products, declared bankruptcy in 2005. This site was used since 1920 to manufacture calcium chloride and other chemicals, which were shipped from a deep water port on the Detroit River. The site has been since April 2012 the subject of remediation work, supervised by CH2M Hill.
The plant was once part of Allied Chemical, which retained it when it sold the soda ash and calcium chloride operations and Amherst Quarries to General Chemical. The plant is composed of three separate parcels connected through rights of way and easements. In 1999, Allied Signal merged with the much smaller Honeywell Inc. but chose to carry on the newly expanded corporation under the Honeywell name.
Between Amherstburg and Windsor (the nearest local metropolis), there is no regularly scheduled bus line. Amherstburg Taxi and South Shore Taxi occasionally operate a "shared ride service" from Amherstburg to the Devonshire Mall in Windsor.
Commercial rail service is provided through Essex Terminal Railway, which operates a 35 km line to Windsor.
The former Michigan Central Railway/CASO railway linking Amherstburg to Essex was converted into the Cypher Systems Group Greenway rail trail in stages beginning in 2007, with the two stream bridges being rehabilitated for public use again in 2017.
Amherstburg Ferry Company operates private ferry service to Bob-Lo Island community. The ferry service once operated MS Windmill Point, a car ferry acquired in 1960s after the Ogdensburg–Prescott Ferry service closed following the opening of the Ogdensburg–Prescott International Bridge. In July 2020, the Amherstburg Ferry Company acquired the Daldean Ferry which had been operating on the St. Clair River between since 1951.
Amherstburg is home to the following competitive sports teams:
- Amherstburg Admirals Jr. C Hockey
- Amherstburg Stars Minor Hockey
- Amherstburg Cardinals Baseball
- Amherstburg Timberwolves Football
- General Amherst High School Bulldogs (various Men's and Women's sports teams)
The Amherstburg North Stars Midget "B" hockey team were winners of the 1976 OMHA playdowns and winners of the town's first-ever OMHA All-Ontario title for any age group.
The Amherstburg North Stars Juvenile "BB" hockey team were the winners of the 1977 OMHA playdowns and winners of the town's first-ever OMHA All-Ontario title for that age group.
In the first week of every August, Amherstburg holds a heritage festival, consisting of activities at several locations around town. At Fort Malden, re-enactors depict eras ranging from the Roman Empire to the Second World War, establishing camps and performing battle demonstrations.
Since 2006, Amherstburg has held an annual Shores of Erie Wine Festival. As of 2017, the event has been cancelled indefinitely after a liquor breach fine and the death of a teenager in 2014.
Amherstburg also celebrates Canada Day with a yearly fireworks display and a day of family activities.
Art by the River (established in 1967), is an annual two-day arts and craft festival that takes place the weekend before Labour Day weekend on the grounds of the Fort Malden National Historic Site.
Other festivities include:
- Spring Wine N' Hop (May)
- Beef In the Burg Barbecue (June)
- Firefighters "J Wimpy" Volleyball Tournament (June)
- Canada Day Celebrations/Ice Cream Festival (July 1)
- Gone Crazy Car Show (July)
- Ribfest (July)
- The Uncommon Festival (August)
- Woofa Roo Pet Festival (August)
- Cancer Walk-a-thon (October)
- Christmas Parade (Late November)
- River Lights (November thru December)
- Amherstburg Christmas Pub Crawl (December)
|Climate data for Amherstburg (1981−2010)|
|Record high °C (°F)||15.0
|Average high °C (°F)||0.5
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−3.0
|Average low °C (°F)||−6.5
|Record low °C (°F)||−28
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||66.2
|Average rainfall mm (inches)||40.0
|Average snowfall cm (inches)||26.2
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm)||12.0||9.1||11.7||13.6||12.8||10.1||10.5||10.0||9.2||10.4||11.8||12.4||133.5|
|Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm)||6.6||5.5||8.8||12.8||12.8||10.1||10.5||10.0||9.2||10.4||10.7||7.8||115.1|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm)||6.6||4.6||4.1||1.6||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.16||1.4||5.8||24.3|
|Source: Environment Canada|
|Canada census – Amherstburg community profile|
|Population:||21,936 (1.8% from 2011)||21,556 (-0.9% from 2006)||21,748 (6.9% from 2001)|
|Land area:||185.61 km2 (71.66 sq mi)||185.68 km2 (71.69 sq mi)||185.65 km2 (71.68 sq mi)|
|Population density:||118.2/km2 (306/sq mi)||116.1/km2 (301/sq mi)||117.1/km2 (303/sq mi)|
|Median age:||42.2 (M: , F: )||42.2 (M: 41.6, F: 42.8)||38.6 (M: 38.1, F: 39.1)|
|Total private dwellings:||8951||8600||8346|
|Median household income:||$73,653|
|References: 2016 2011 2006 earlier|
Population trend for former municipalities:
- Population in 2001: 20,339
- Amherstburg (former town): 10,822
- Anderdon (former township): 6331
- Malden (former township): 3186
- Population total in 1996: 19,273
- Amherstburg (town): 10,245
- Anderdon (township): 5730
- Malden (township): 3298
- Population total in 1991: 17,577
- Amherstburg (town): 8921
- Anderdon (township): 5502
- Malden (township): 3155
- Sally Ainse - Oneida diplomat and fur trader.
- Shelton Brooks - songwriter/composer.
- Seth Bullock - Wild West sheriff, hardware store owner and U.S. Marshal.
- Robert T. Burton - Early Mormon leader and Utah pioneer, born in Amherstburg.
- Jay "Nig" Clarke - Major League Baseball player.
- Norman H. Hackett - Actor, born in Amherstburg.
- Malcolm Knight - Economist and financier.
- Henry William McKenny - Canadian politician, Liberal member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta 1905 - 1917
- Richard Peddie - Former President and CEO of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment.
- Kevin Westgarth - Stanley Cup Champion and former NHL player.
- Eugene Whelan - Born in Anderdon Township, politician, Minister of Agriculture.
- Wesley Weber - Counterfeiter.
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