150 Years of Brockville History – 1892-1916

In honour of Canada150, the Brockville Museum will be starting a special project.  For the 150 days leading up to Canada Day (beginning February 1st), we will post to Facebook something that happened in the Brockville area every year from 1867-2017.  These posts will include excerpts from the newspapers, photographs and artifacts from the Brockville Museum’s collection. After they have been posted to Facebook, we will add them to this site in 25-year increments.  

Day 101: 1967

1967 marked Canada’s 100th! To celebrate, there were pageants, new developments, community activities, park openings, parades, trips to Expo and more… Many of the community building projects have become familiar sights around the City. They include Centennial Park, the Youth Arena, and Centeen Park.

Pictured is the opening of Centennial Park. Check out our virtual 1967 exhibit for more.

Day 102: 1968

As an official Centennial Project, Brockville decided to build a second indoor rink. Many people contributed to the rink fund and by late 1968 the Brockville Centennial Youth Arena was open.

Fifty years later, the Brockville Centennial Youth Arena is still in use, but is showing its age and City officials are working on plans to replace the old arena.

Day 103: 1969

Photo of Smith’s Dairy in 1969.

The dairy got its start back in 1941 when Glenson Smith purchased the business from Leslie Dunn. The company continued to grow as it took over the dairy side of the operations at Avondale Farm and purchased Ralph’s Dairy in 1964.

It was located on the waterfront until at least 1974.

Day 104: 1970

In 1970 the Hudson’s Bay Company marked its 300th anniversary by building and touring a replica of the ship used in the first trading voyage into Hudson’s Bay in 1670. The replica Nonsuch toured Canada and made a stop in Brockville.

Pictured is the Nonsuch during her visit to Brockville in 1970.

Day 105: 1971

In 1971 an addition was added to the Brockville Public Library, but the library’s history goes back to 1841 when the Buell family formed a library association. It later merged with the Mechanic’s Institute and then the Literary and Debating Society. In 1903 council successfully applied to the Carnegie Foundation to fund the building of a library. The new library opened on Buell St. in 1904.

Day 106: 1972

The Brockville YMCA was established the same year as Confederation (1867) but built a new home in 1972. The organisation moved quite a bit over the years but found a permanent home on Park Street in 1972. An addition was added to the building in 1987 and an Olympic-sized swimming pool in 1996. The ‘Y’ continues to provide athletic and social activities for people of the area.

Pictured is a photo of the construction in 1972.

Day 107: 1973

The opening of the 1000 Islands Mall in 1973 was the beginning of the retail boom on Parkedale Avenue. Over the years, many anchor retailers have called the mall home: Woolco, Walmart, Sears and more. Today, the mall includes stand alone stores, familiar retailers, offices of the Member of Parliament, meeting rooms and hosts community events.

Day 108: 1974

In 1974 the streetscape of downtown Brockville changed forever. On a cold November night, the Revere Hotel (located next to City Hall across Market St. W) caught fire. Despite the work of local firefighters, the building, which had been used as a hotel since 1849, could not be saved and two elderly ladies that lived in the hotel lost their lives. The Scotiabank building now stands in its place.

Day 109: 1975

Local Member of Parliament, Tom Cossitt, was a hot topic on Parliament Hill in 1975. Cossitt was critical of the “expensive” pool being installed at 24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. The debate got so heated that Trudeau invited Cossitt to come over and practice his diving, “even before the water’s in the pool.” Pictured is a political cartoon relating to the “swimming pool disagreement”.

Day 110: 1976

Excitement was in the air in 1976…the Summer Olympics were being held in Montreal and Brockville was well-represented. Locals participated in, and lined the route, as the torch relay made its way through town. Not only that, but Brockvillian Ben TeKamp was the Canadian rowing team manager at the games.

Pictured is Ben TeKamp’s official uniform from the games.

Day 111: 1977

From the Recorder and Times August 18, 1977:

“A lioness loose at Woodland Park Zoo has been returned to her cage and precautions have been made to keep the animal from making further escapes, zoo-owner John VanderSchuit said Thursday.”

Located along Highway 2 west of Brockville the zoo opened in 1966. It closed in 1979 and was briefly reopened in the early 1980s before closing for good.

Day 112: 1978

On January 23, 1978 downtown was shaken by an explosion. It originated at the WB Reynolds Co. Ltd. on Water Street East. The resulting fire destroyed what was left of the maintenance garage and two fuel trucks. The nearby Stewart’s Stationary building was also damaged. In fact, a duplex on Bethune Street was also destroyed.

Day 113: 1979

In 1979 the cadet corps of the St. John Ambulance were officially invested at a ceremony at the Brockville Armouries. Brockville’s St John Ambulance was already a fixture, but this was something new. In 1979, the Brockville cadets corps was the largest St. John Ambulance cadet corps in Ontario.

St. John Ambulance continues to operate out of their home just off Perth Street. For the parent organisation’s 100th anniversary, the City had a special flowerbed on Court House Avenue for the Brigade

Day 114: 1980

Just in time for its 10th anniversary, St. Lawrence College unveiled a new $2.4 million addition in 1980. The college got its start with the opening of the Cornwall campus in 1968 (Kingston campus opened in 1969 and Brockville campus in 1970).

Pictured is the Brockville campus under construction (1970, Recorder and Times Collection)

Day 115: 1981

After many years of work to secure the building and fix it up, the former home of the Beecher family (later offices of the Central Canada Coal Company) opened its doors to the public. Since 1981 the Brockville Museum has been the home for items related to Brockville’s history.

With an ever-growing collection and need for programming and exhibit space, an addition was built onto Beecher House in 1995.

Day 116: 1982

In 1982 Brockville celebrated its own 150th birthday. The biggest celebration of all was the ‘Day on the Green.’ A massive community party on Court House Green celebrated not only Brockville’s 150th anniversary, but the unveiling of a new ‘Sally Grant.’ Hoisted to the top of the Counties Court House, the 1982 carved statue still stands, looking over downtown Brockville.


Day 117: 1983

In 1983 the R&T took pictures of Ross Laboratories during a visit by local dignitaries. Located on the corner of Pearl St and North Augusta Rd, the factory was originally established in 1934 as General Milk Products of Canada Ltd. Later, Cow and Gate Ltd 1952-1976. Then, Abbott Laboratories Ltd of Montreal in 1976. It operated under both the Ross and Abbott names. The factory closed at the end of 2013.

Day 118: 1984

Riverfest started in 1983 as a small festival held in Hardy Park. It included a special fishing derby: a tagged smallmouth bass was released into the river and whoever caught it would win $50,000 a year for 20 years! No one caught him in 1983, but a lucky angler hooked him in 1984. It later expanded to Blockhouse Island and included music and fireworks, but ended in 2012 after a decline in popularity.

Day 119: 1985

A Brockville institution celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1985. The Brockville General Hospital got its start as a Free Medical Dispensary on Church Street in 1881. The hospital was incorporated in 1885 and the dispensary changed its name to the Brockville General Hospital. A new hospital building was built on Charles Street in 1889.

Day 120: 1986

The talk of the town in 1986 was a new development for the waterfront. The project was presented by Riverport Developments Ltd. The plan was for a mix of residential and commercial buildings and a waterfront hotel. In the end, only The Boardwalk building was completed.

Pictured is a model of the project.

Day 121: 1987

The 1953 CPR caboose currently located in Armagh Sifton Price Park was installed on that site in 1987. The CPR donated the 1953 caboose to the city the year before, but it needed to be fixed before it went on display.

Day 122: 1988

After 100 years in business, Craig’s of Brockville closed its doors. What began as a manufacturer and seller of furs became one of Brockville’s best known fashion stores. It featurrf clothing for both men and women. Much of the advertising for the furs touted that they were not only a place to buy coats; they processed the furs on site- eliminating any middle man in the process.

Day 123: 1989

On August 20, 1989 a suspicious briefcase was found in the downtown CIBC at 98 King Street West. The fear was that the case contained a bomb. The city police were called and the area cordoned off for safety. A controlled detonation of the case was performed and the bank reopened the next day.

Pictured is an exterior view of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (1962, photographer unrecorded)

Day 124: 1990

In 1990 a group of volunteer re-enactors came together to create the “Brockville Infantry Company”. This volunteer organization continues to operate to this date, carrying replica 1853 Enfield black powder muzzle-loading rifled muskets and wearing red tunics. The group has grown from the original 4 members in 1990 to about 30 re-enactors that travel to parades and events throughout Canada and the northern United States.

Day 125: 1991

It’s 1991 and the area’s skies are filled with balloons of every shape and size. A cowboy hat, polar bear, Mr. Peanut, Mickey Mouse, Tony the Tiger and more were part of the Great Balloon Rodeo held at Grenville Christian College at Maitland. By the late ‘90s the event had run its course and the days of seeing hot-air balloon characters touching down in local fields came to an end.

Photo from the 1991 event.