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 126: 1992

In 1992 the Ookpik Winter Carnival made a return after a one year absence. It started in 1971 and at its height, the event ran for five days and included carnival breakfasts, snow queen pageants, a mushers ball, and ice sculpting contests. The carnival ran for nearly three decades.

Day 127: 1993

In 1842, writer Charles Dickens, travelled to Canada and observed that Brockville was the “prettiest town in all the Canadas”. 150 years later, Brockville started “A Dickens of a Festival”, held in December for several years in the early 1990s. The event included performances of ‘A Christmas Carol’ at the Arts Centre, readings of Dickens, and decorated downtown storefronts.

Shared: a poster for the ‘93 festival.

Day 128: 1994

In 1994 the Brockville Museum published “Brockville Voices”, a book compiled from ‘oral histories’ (history told by those who lived it). These oral histories were recorded (with a tape recorder) and then transcribed (onto paper) by volunteers. These oral histories included stories of local businesses and everyday life in Brockville c1900-1960. A second volume was published in 2009.

Day 129: 1995

The United Way of Brockville has long been doing good work in our community and our community has always rallied to raise funds for the charity. In 1995, the United Way of Brockville successfully surpassed its fundraising goal of $475,000.

Picture is the 1984 cheque ceremony.

Day 130: 1996

In 1996, all 911 emergency services for all of Leeds-Grenville were consolidated into one place: Fire Station No. 2 on Laurier Boulevard.

The new fire station opened in 1991. Before that, the only fire station in Brockville was on Perth Street. The Perth Street station was built in 1910 and continues to be used today. But by the 1990s, it was too small to accommodate the newer, larger vehicles.

Day 131: 1997

In the 1990s, the walking trail now known as the Brock Trail was really just getting started. The trail winds along Buell’s Creek and the waterfront. The trail is now over 5 km long, with much of it following the railway branch line that once brought trains downtown.

In 1997 a favourite waterfront part of the trail was officially opened to the public: Ernie Fox Quay located between Home and Apple Streets.

Day 132: 1998

On January 4th, 1998, freezing rain started to fall and continued off and on for about a week. Power lines sagged from the weight of the ice build-up, trees snapped and roads were impassable. The power went out, and it stayed out. For some of those outside of the city, it would be weeks before the poles could be replaced and the power restored.

Shared here is a booklet published by the Recorder and Times.

Day 133: 1999

The 1999-2000 season was full of records for the Brockville Braves junior hockey team. According to the Braves’ website, many of these team records still stand. One notable record was for Ian Miller who set the record for the most penalty minutes received in one season (113).

The Braves first began in Brockville as a ‘Junior A’ squad in 1963.

Shared here is a Brockville Braves team photo from 1989.

Day 134: 2000

Originally installed in 1917, renovated in 1977, the Fulford Fountain on Court House Ave was falling apart by 1997: seven of the eight turtles on the fountain were headless and the foundation had shifted! As an official Millennium project the city teamed up with the Community Foundation and other levels of government to revitalize the avenue and rebuild the fountain. The new fountain was unveiled on July 1 2000.

Day 135: 2001

2001 was the 100th anniversary of the construction of the Brockville Armouries. The contract for construction had been awarded to D.S. Booth and Albert Haggerty and was completed in 1902.

The Armouries is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building. Although similar in style to armoury buildings built during the same time period, Brockville’s is unique because it is built of stone instead of brick.

Day 136: 2002

What do you get when you mix tomatoes, green peppers and onions with 46,000 eggs? The world’s largest omelette! It was all part of a successful world record attempt, held in Brockville for the Lung Association at the Memorial Centre, on May 13, 2002. The omelette covered 1,520 sq ft. and took 200 people to make.

Day 137: 2003

By 2003 the Brockville-based Canadian Aid for Chernobyl was sending 3 metric tonnes of supplies (medicine, food, clothes) to Belarus to help those suffering from the aftermath of the nuclear disaster that struck the region in 1986. In 2004, Brockville donated a fire truck to the town of Chausy.

Pictured is a decorated box gifted to then-Mayor Ben Tekamp in 2005 after delivering the fire truck to Chausy.

Day 138: 2004

In 2004, the Royal Bank celebrated its 100th anniversary in Brockville.

It all started back in 1904 when a branch of the Crown Bank of Canada opened in the downtown. Following many mergers, the Crown Bank was acquired by another bank, which in turn merged with another organisation. In the end, the resulting company became known as the Royal Bank of Canada.

Day 139: 2005

After 5 years of research the first ‘definitive history’ of Brockville was almost complete in 2005. The book was commissioned by City Council in 1999 and authored by Glenn J. Lockwood. “The Story of Brockville: Men and Women Making a Canadian Community of the United States Frontier, 1749-2007” was published to coincide with the 175th anniversary of Brockville becoming an incorporated municipality in 1832.

Day 140: 2006

Like 1871, 2006 was census year- so, what changed in 135 years?

Brockville’s population went from 5,120 in 1871 to 21,957 in 2006.

In 1871 the average annual wage for someone working at James Hall & Company (making gloves, overshoes and operating as a tannery) was the highest of the large employers at $516 per year. While in 2006, the median earning for a male working full-time, year-round in Brockville was $42,045.

Day 141: 2007

On November 5, 2007 Constable Douglas Scott of the Brockville area was fatally shot while on duty in a small town in Nunavut. He was 20 years old.

The public funeral was held in Brockville. Mourners from almost every police detachment across the country attended and giant screens were set up on Court House Green to show the funeral for those who could not fit into the church for the service.

Day 142: 2008

In 2008, the Museum unveiled a new mural based on the story of the Fenians. It was painted by local artist Dave Sheridan. This was not Sheridan’s first, or only, public mural. In 1998, he created a mural at the train station. Sheridan continues to create other large-scale art projects, including the mural in the otter habitat at the Aquatarium.

Day 143: 2009

In 2009 the Brockville Arts Centre celebrated the completion of “Project Encore” which restored, modernised and beautified the historic building.

Originally built in 1858 to house a market, fire engines and town hall, it has gone through many changes. Known as the Brockville Arts Centre since 1990, it continues to offer entertainment to those living in and visiting Brockville.

Day 144: 2010

In 2010 The Brockville Farmers’ Market was awarded the Entrepreneur of the Year by the Leeds and Grenville Small Business Enterprise Centre.

The market began back in 1833. What started out as an outdoor market, soon expanded indoors with a new market building. This building is now the south section of City Hall. Since that time, the market has moved locations, but is now located on Market Street West.

Day 145: 2011

In 2011 the steam yacht Magedoma was once again docked at the Fulford boathouse. Originally built in 1901 and christened the Cangarda, Geroge T. Fulford (I) purchased it at renamed it the Magedoma in 1904. Even after Fulford’s death in 1905, the Magedoma was used by the family up until WWII. Following the war it was sold and went through a number of owners until she was restored between 2004 and 2009.

Day 146: 2012

In 2012 a new venture in an old building celebrated its 10th anniversary. Fulford Academy (a boarding school for international students) opened in 2002 in the building originally operated as the Fulford Home for Indigent Protestant Women.

Pictured is a group of students from Fulford Academy alongside Brockville’s Olympic medalist Conlin McCabe at an event in 2012 (photo courtesy of Fulford Academy, used with permission).

Day 147: 2013

In 2013 the street in front of the courthouse was re-named to honour former Brockville resident John Ross Matheson.

Matheson was MP for Leeds and a member of the special parliamentary committee tasked with finding a new national flag for Canada. Unveiled on February 15, 1965 the Maple Leaf flag is now recognised around the world.

Matheson was at the re-naming ceremony, but passed away later that year.

Day 148: 2014

The iconic home of the Brockville Club was sold in 2014.

Located on Courthouse Avenue, the building (also known as the Alexander and Elizabeth Morris House) was built around 1835. It has housed other businesses and became home to the private men’s club, “The Brockville Club” in 1904.

The building has since undergone renovations and is now lawyers’ offices.

Day 149: 2015

To celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2015, the Brockville Bunnies held a reunion celebration. Not only was there a banquet and an old-timers’ game, but players that had gone on to the major leagues made their return to Brockville.

Pictured are the Brockville Bunnies: Southern Division Champs (1967, Recorder and Times Collection).

Day 150: 2016

The long-awaited Aquatarium – originally known as the Maritime Discovery Centre – opened its doors in 2016. Plagued by delays with many articles written on the subject, the opening of the Aquatarium was certainly the most published event of the year. Visitor attendance during its first year exceeded expectations.