Browse Exhibits (5 total)

The Historic Downtown: Discovering the Heart of Windsor

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Windsor, Ontario is home to many districts, each with its own unique and important history. In the heart of all these communities lies the historic downtown, which serves as a centre of not only tourism and city life, but is also rich with history. As a border city, Windsor’s historic downtown has lots to offer not only for the local connoisseur, but for the traveling tourist. Whether you’re here to stay or just passing through, Windsor’s historic downtown has many different attractions designed to meet the interests and wants of everyone.

Our tour begins with our most iconic landmark; the Detroit River. This waterfront serves as a connection between Canada and the United States, but also as a source of heritage and beauty. Watching over her is Locomotive 5588, otherwise known as The Spirit of Windsor. The train gives us an insight as to the history of transportation that is located in Windsor, and also illustrates the hard work and determination of a community. The house of Francois Baby, now Windsor's Community Museum, was once the home of a prominent family that helped develop the city of Windsor. The house and family were involved in both the War of 1812 and the Rebellion of 1837-1838, and continues to influence the city. Moreover, Windsor’s Capitol Theatre showcases the night life and entertainment district of a thriving theatre community. From movies to military, The Windsor Armouries showcases Windsor’s proud military history, which spans back to the war of 1812. Finally, Windsor’s Greyhound Bus station was able to accommodate transportation for all of Windsor and Essex County, while providing an international route to Detroit. This building reflected the factory town aesthetic that both Windsor and Detroit have to offer; cementing Windsor on the map as the Automotive Capital of Canada.

This walking tour of historic downtown is not only meant to showcase all that Windsor has to offer, but also to introduce a traveler to the diverse and important history that downtown Windsor has written. The fact that Windsor is established as a factory town might not come off as appealing, but digging under the surface, one can reveal a distinct and plentiful bounty of history. It is a history that is full of exciting anecdotes. It becomes clear that the historic downtown has much to offer, and this tour provides a voice for our heritage.

Take the tour

Old Sandwich Town

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Old Sandwich Town was established in 1797. It is one of the longest standing neighborhoods in the Windsor Essex County area. Today, Sandwich town contains a variety of heritage buildings and local businesses that keep the area  alive and well frequented. 

Riverside

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Riverside is a neighbourhood on the eastern edge of Windsor. It is best defined by the waterfront, Riverside Drive, which runs parallel to the Detroit River.

Amherstburg

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Named after Lord Amherst, who fought in the Seven Years' War, Amherstburg was founded in 1796 as a town to accompany Fort Malden. The municipality and population has dedicated itself to preserving the town's rich history. The heart of Amherstburg is based around its historical roots honoring heritage sites and buildings such as the Bellevue House and Fort Malden. Over the centuries, Amherstburg has also grown to encompass a large portion of what was once a Huron Reserve and has close ties to several small islands in the Detroit River. Perhaps the most interesting part of the King's NavyYard history is how short lived the actually was, while still creating a history of it's own. 

The walking tour of Amherstburg follows the progression of Amherstburg as a city. It begins with the Wyandotte Indian Cemetery, the last vestiges of the Anderdon Township reserve. Fort Malden and King's Navy Yard are the second and third destinations their development were the origins for the founding of Amherstburg as a British village. Next, the Bellevue House's ties to the regions experiences in The War of 1812. Finally, Boblo Island's development reflects the modernization of Amherstburg.

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Ford City - Workers & Worship

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Under the slogan “Workers & Worship” the walking tour of Ford City pays tribute to the strong relationship between the Ford Motor Company and the town's community who developed deep religious ties to the area by erecting their various parish churches. The tour guides the viewer through the area's most historic locations/buildings of the past and present. 

When one visits Ford City today they get the sense that the area has seen better days and this is relatively true. Ford City was originally occupied by the Native Wyandotte tribe, but French settlers moved in by the mid-18th century. The French would continue to make up the majority of Ford Citiy's population well into the early 20th century. The Ford Motor Company's decision to move production to the area had massive implications and led the area to becoming an industrial hub. Eastern European immigrants flocked to the area for the many job oppurtunities Ford City possesed and soon became the predominant population in the community. Ford City became a village in 1913 and then due to significant growth a town in 1915. Throughtout the 1920s the community continued to grow and paved roads and schools were constructed. Ford City seemed destined for greatness.

However, Ford City was eventually affected by the Great Depression and due to the hard times in 1929 it was amalgamated with Windsor. It took on the name East Windsor and in 1935 it became part of Windsor proper to attempt to quell the financial hardship it was facing. All this was in vain however, and when Ford announced the construction of an assembly plant in Oakville it spelt doom for the area. In 1954 Ford officially moved its final assembly operations to Oakville and layoffs and plant changes were common. The Ford City area was impacted significantly as people moved to the suburbs and small businesses were replaced by bars and strip clubs. 

Today there is hope in Ford City. The community although no longer made up of a majority of Eastern Europeans, is still strong and is more diverse. The amount of churches and halls located in Ford City attest to this. Their is a communal garden and many community members take pride in it. Businesses are moving back into the area and murals and paintings give Ford City an excellent vibe. A renaissance spirit now thrives throughout the community. It is fair to wonder if Ford City will ever recapture the glory of its former years, but no one can say it was for the communties lack of trying.