Dresden, Ontario Canada

Discover Dresden, Ontario: A Rich Blend of History, Culture, and Natural Beauty

Dresden, Ontario, a charming agricultural community in southwestern Canada, is a part of the municipality of Chatham-Kent. Nestled on the banks of the Sydenham River, Dresden is named after Dresden, Germany. The community is renowned for its production of grain corn, soybean, winter wheat, and horticultural crops like tomatoes, sweet corn, and carrots. But Dresden's claim to fame extends beyond agriculture. It is best known as the home of Josiah Henson, an African-Canadian abolitionist whose life inspired the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin.

The Historical Journey of Dresden, Ontario

The Settlement and Founding of Dresden, Ontario

The first settler to make his home on the present-day site of Dresden was Gerard Lindsley in 1825. He moved from the Thames River Settlement. In 1846, Daniel VanAllen, a Chatham merchant, bought the Lindsley farm and laid out a town plot. By 1849, a steam-powered sawmill and a grist-mill in the neighbouring Dawn Settlement were driving the economy of the expanding community. Dresden's post office was established in 1854, and by 1864, the town was prospering with an estimated population of 500. Dresden was incorporated as a village in 1872, and as a town in 1882. It became part of the new municipality of Chatham-Kent in 1998.

Dresden, Ontario: A Terminus of the Underground Railroad

Dresden, situated near the former Dawn Settlement, was an important terminus of the Underground Railroad's overland and maritime routes. The Dawn Settlement developed around the British-American Institute, a vocational school whose principal founder, in 1842, was Josiah Henson. The grounds of the Settlement are now the site of the Josiah Henson Museum of African-Canadian History.

The Trillium Trail in Dresden, Ontario

Dresden's community organizations have worked tirelessly to develop the town's historical legacy and enhance its natural features, particularly the Sydenham River. Since the 100-year flood of 1968, Dresden's floodplain has been improved with landscaped parks, an arboretum, and the 5.8 km Trillium Trail, which includes a historical walk section. The trailhead and interpretive centre is on St. George Street, near the bridge over the Sydenham.

Landmarks in Dresden, Ontario

Dresden is home to several landmark buildings that are regarded as cultural heritage assets. These include the Dresden Library, Switzer house, Watson house, McVean house, Dresden Creamery Building, and Dresden Municipal Centre. Other landmarks include St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, St. Michael's Church, Dresden Community Church, the Christian Reformed Church, the First Regular Baptist Church, and the North Dresden Baptist Church.

Natural Features of Dresden, Ontario

The Sydenham River is known for its many species of fish and mussels, and, in its watershed, amphibians, turtles, snakes, and dragonflies. The Trillium Trail, particularly in the downtown arboretum area, has informative signage about the rare plants and animals inhabiting the Sydenham and its watershed.

Community Organizations in Dresden, Ontario

Dresden boasts a wide range of voluntary organizations, non-profits, sports clubs, fraternities, and service clubs that contribute to the vibrant community life.

Events, Sports, and the Dresden Fair in Dresden, Ontario

Dresden hosts regular events like a "Show & Shine" for classic cars, weekly concerts in the summer at Rotary Park, and the annual Terry Fox Run. The town also celebrates Emancipation Day and observes the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The Dresden Fair, with an exhibition, a cattle show, and a midway, takes place over three successive days towards the end of July each year.

Downtown Dresden, Ontario

Downtown Dresden runs for about three blocks, with many stores and businesses serving locals, the surrounding communities, and tourists. The streets are lined with planters maintained by the Horticultural Society and other volunteers.

Human Rights: The Dresden Story

After World War II, Hugh Burnett returned to Dresden to set up a carpentry business. He found that some restaurants refused to serve him because he was Black. In 1948, he and other African-Canadians founded the National Unity Association (NUA) to campaign to make such discrimination illegal.

Climate in Dresden, Ontario

Dresden enjoys a mild, humid continental climate. Summer days can be hot and humid, while winters are cold. As Dresden is outside the snowbelt, winter precipitation is usually low and snow-cover intermittent throughout the season.

Industry and Businesses in Dresden, Ontario

Dresden hosts many small businesses, ranging from gas stations to restaurants, specialty retail stores, and service providers. Since 1947, Dresden has been home to ConAgra Foods' tomato processing plant, a major local employer.

Memorials in Dresden, Ontario

Dresden is home to several memorials, including the Dresden Cenotaph, which displays the names of the dead of World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. The town also has several honour rolls inside its churches, listing the names of parishioners who served in the military in World Wars I and II.