Embrun, Ontario: A Vibrant Community in Eastern Ontario

Embrun, Ontario, is a thriving community located in the Eastern Ontario region of Canada. Part of the National Capital Region, Embrun is nestled within the larger Russell Township in Prescott and Russell United Counties. As of the 2011 census, the urban area of Embrun boasted a population of 6,380. However, when including the surrounding agricultural areas closely tied to the community, the population figure rises to 8,669, making Embrun the largest community in the Township of Russell.

Embrun, Ontario: A Rapidly Growing Community

Embrun has experienced significant growth in recent years. Between 2016 and 2021, the population surged nearly 25 per cent to 8,680, while nearby Russell expanded by 22 per cent to 6,135. In 2021, Embrun and Russell ranked first and third, respectively, in growth among Eastern Ontario cities with at least 1,000 people.

From 2001 to 2006, the population of Embrun's urban area increased by 26.6%, higher than any other community in the 613 area code and the 8th highest in Ontario. Between 2006 and 2011, its growth was slower, but still more than double the provincial average, growing at a rate of 12.8%, which was the 6th fastest in the 613 area code and the 25th fastest in Ontario.

Embrun is a culturally diverse community with a French-speaking majority and a significant English-speaking minority. According to the 2006 Census, 57% of Embrun's population speaks French at home, while 41% speak English. The remaining 2% speak either both languages equally or a non-official language.

Embrun, Ontario: A Rich History

The first residents of Embrun settled the town in 1845. François Michel named the town in 1857 after Embrun, France. The town's early economy was based on lumber, as the area was heavily forested and the soils too moist for good agriculture. However, in the 1870s, with deforestation and the advent of land drainage technologies, agriculture replaced lumber as Embrun's main industry.

The town grew rapidly in the late 19th century, a trend accelerated by the advent of the railway in 1898. The 20th century, however, brought a change in direction. Three events happened which harmed Embrun's economy significantly and resulted in population decline. First was the Great Depression in the 1930s and the associated decline in the agriculture industry. Secondly, in the 1950s and 1960s, as with most other small towns across North America, Embrun suffered rural depopulation as its young people left the town to seek education and employment in urban areas. The third blow was the closure of the railway line in 1957.

Towards the end of the 20th century, however, Embrun recovered and began growing rapidly. The construction of Highway 417 in the 1970s cut down travel time to Ottawa significantly, and as a result, Embrun residents increasingly began to commute to Ottawa for work, and Embrun was able to attract new residents. In the period from 1985 to 1995, Embrun's population doubled and an indoor shopping mall and business park opened. A second round of major growth occurred in the first few years of the 21st century.

Embrun, Ontario: The Railway Era

In 1898, the New York and Ottawa Railway was built. This railway, which travelled between Tupper Lake, New York and Ottawa, stopped at Embrun six times every day except for Sunday. This railway line continued operation until 1957, when a combination of pressures from the National Capital Commission, who wished to cut down on the number of railway lines through Ottawa in an effort to eliminate noise pollution, as well as from the Saint Lawrence Seaway project, which required the removal of the railway's bridge in Cornwall, caused the railway line to shut down. The last trains ran in February 1957, and in April CN purchased the railway track and proceeded to demolish it. Although some segments in Cornwall and Ottawa were retained, the line through Embrun was scrapped. A few decades later, the municipal government constructed a rail trail on the right of way, which remains in use to the present day.

Embrun, Ontario: Neighbourhoods

Embrun has several distinct neighbourhoods. With the exception of the Lapointe & Town-Centre neighbourhoods (which have built onto each other as a result of infill development), each of the neighbourhoods are physically separated by open space, although much of this open space will likely be eliminated in the near future as the municipality pushes for more infill.

The neighbourhoods of Embrun include:

  • Industrial Park
  • Business Park
  • Chantal Development
  • Centre ville (town centre)
  • Bourdeau Development in the Embrun-Sud (Embrun South) area
  • Lapointe Development and Mélanie Construction
  • Maplevale

The smaller community of Brisson may be considered part of Embrun, as it is no longer recognized by any municipal entity. The municipality has recently adopted smart growth principles to guide its future development. The official plan calls for densification and infill of existing urban land, rather than acquiring more rural land. A near-doubling of Embrun's population will be accomplished in the next 10–15 years with only two new neighbourhoods (both in land already designated as urban land use zones) being built. The rest of the population growth will be done by building housing units in the open spaces between existing neighbourhoods, and by eventually replacing single-family homes on some busier streets with apartments and condos. Through this plan, Embrun's population will increase from its current population of around 6,000 people to upwards of 10,000 people in 2021, with only a small amount of land to the west being added to the urban zone.

Embrun, Ontario: Business Park

The Embrun Business Park is located in the extreme western part of Embrun, west of the Chantal Development. The area is home to nearly all of the town's major businesses. In this area is the Place d'Embrun Shopping Centre as well as some of the town's chain restaurants (e.g., Tim Hortons and Dairy Queen) and large businesses such as renovators, grocery stores and automobile garages. However, this part of Embrun lacks small businesses. Most of the small businesses are in other parts of Embrun. This part of Embrun, however, has almost no permanent residents due to the fact that it is almost exclusively commercial. There are a few people living on Notre-Dame Street in this area, however, these people are counted as part of the Chantal Development in population counts. The area is paved with many asphalt service roads crisscrossing the area.

Embrun, Ontario: Industrial Park

Embrun also has an Industrial Park. Despite the name, the Industrial Park doesn't really have any industry, just semi-industrial commerce such as warehouses. The Ontario Provincial Police Station is also located here. The Industrial Park is located just to the north of the Embrun Business Park. The Industrial Park is one of the westernmost areas of Embrun. It has three streets: Industrial Street, New York Central Avenue, and Bay Street. As a result of municipal zoning regulation reform undertaken in 2010, the Industrial Park technically no longer exists, as the old commercial & industrial zones were replaced with a new "Business Park" designation. Nonetheless the two areas are distinct in the types of enterprises operating in them.

Embrun, Ontario: Chantal Development

Chantal Development is a rather quiet residential area in the Western part of Embrun. To the east of Chantal Development lies the town centre (officially called Centre-Ville). To the west lies the Business Park and the Industrial Park. There are several streets in the Chantal Development: Olympic Street, Domaine Street, Menard Street, Isabelle Street, Loiselle Street, Chantal Crescent, Promenade Boulevard, and Chateau Crescent. An infill subdivision is planned for the area and will be located immediately to the north of the current development.

Embrun, Ontario: Town Centre/Centre-Ville

Town Centre/Centre-Ville is home to two of the town's schools (École Publique de la Rivière Castor and St. Jean/La Croisée). Also, the Église St. Jacques is in this part of town. To the west of Town Centre/Centre-Ville is Chantal Development. To the east is Lapointe Development. To the south is the neighbourhood of Embrun South. To the north is rural areas. The major streets are Ste. Jeanne d'Arc Street, Blais Street, Centenaire Street (also in Lapointe Development), St Jean Baptiste Street, Castlebeau Street, St. Augustin Street, and Lamadeleine Boulevard. Some infill has occurred in recent years, and more is planned along the western and northern fringes of the neighbourhood.

Embrun, Ontario: Lapointe Development

The Lapointe Development is in the eastern part of Embrun. To the west is Town Centre/Centre-Ville and to the south is the small neighbourhood of Maplevale. To the north is Brisson. The Lapointe Development is currently undergoing infill expansion. The term Melanie Construction (after the developer who is building the infill projects) refers to the newer infill subdivisions. Another infill subdivision is planned just northwest of the current infill area, and will be integrated into infill projects in the Town Centre/Centre-Ville. In addition, an entirely new neighbourhood (not infill) is also planned to the northeast along St-Thomas Road. There are several streets in the Lapointe Development: Lapointe Boulevard, Fleurette Street, Sophie Street, Alain Street, Chateauguay Road, Filion Street, La Prairie Street, Centenaire Street (also in Town Centre/Centre-Ville), Frontenac Boulevard, Citadelle Street, Louis Riel Street, La Croisée Street, Radisson Drive, Bourassa Street and Normandie Street.

Embrun, Ontario: Embrun South

The area of Embrun south of the Castor River is called Embrun South (Embrun-Sud in French). The area has a housing subdivision, as well as older, mixed development along arterial roads. To the north lies Town Centre/Centre-Ville. To the east, west and south lies rural areas. The area is near the Embrun Water Tower on St-Jacques Road. The land area formerly known as the Norm's Gym summer camp (condos will replace the camp), as well as the École secondaire catholique Embrun are in this area. No infill developments have taken place, although a completely new neighbourhood to the east of the current development, along St-Joseph Road, is planned.

Embrun, Ontario: Maplevale

The small neighbourhood of Maplevale, located to the immediate south of the Lapointe Development, is a more affluent area with a higher land values and larger homes.

Embrun, Ontario: Demographics

In the 2011 census, 6,380 people lived in the urban area of Embrun. An additional 2,289 people lived in rural areas served by the Embrun post office, making for a total of 8,669 people. A census tract which roughly corresponds with the urban area of Embrun had a population of 6,514. As data on census tracts is more readily available, the detailed demographics below will use the census tract for its figures.

Language: 57% of Embrun's population speaks French at home, while 41% speak English at home. The remaining 2% speak either both languages equally, or speak a non-official language. However, because there a significant number of French-Canadians who change their primary language to English later in life, the number of people whose mother tongue is French is higher than those who speak French as their main home language. 63% of Embrun residents list French as their mother tongue, while 33% list English as their mother tongue. 66% of Embrun residents are bilingual in both English and French, 24% speak only English, and 9% speak only French. For language of work, the English language is disproportionately common; while only 41% of Embrun residents speak English at home, 57% of Embrun residents speak primarily or exclusively English at work.

Ethnicity and immigration: The racial makeup of Embrun is 95.8% White, 2.5% Aboriginal, 0.6% Black, 0.6% Arab, 0.3% Chinese, and 0.2% other. According to the census, there are no people in Embrun who belong to the Japanese, Southeast Asian, Filipino, or South Asian racial categories, however, Statistics Canada rounds low data values to the nearest value ending in 5 or 0, so there may be 0, 1, or 2 people in these four categories. The vast majority of the population of Embrun are Canadian citizens; only 0.2% of Embrun residents lack Canadian citizenship. 4.5% of the adult population is foreign-born, while a further 7.1% are Canadian-born but have at least one foreign-born parent.

Income: The median income for Embrun residents is $40,567 a year, higher than the Ontario average of $29,335 a year. Note that those values include all residents over the age of 15 with any reported income, meaning that (for example) teenagers working minimum wage on their days off school would be included. If only full-time workers are included, the median income for Embrun residents rises to $50,096 a year, still above the Ontario average, which for this category is $44,748 a year.

Embrun, Ontario: Transportation

The main road in Embrun is Notre-Dame Street (County Road 3). This busy street travels east–west across Embrun, linking its neighbourhoods together. At its western end it connects to Castor Street in neighbouring Russell, while its eastern end travels to the nearby village of Casselman, located 12 km to the east. As Embrun grows, the street has experienced significant congestion. Part of this is aggravated by the fact that, with the exception of a 1 km section in western Embrun which has a centre turning lane, the street is still a conventional two lane street. The municipality has studied the possibility of widening the entire stretch of the street to two lanes in each direction with a centre turning lane, however the cost of this is seen as prohibitive, so instead, the municipality has focused on projects to make traffic flow more efficient. This included the upgrading of intersections, including the installation of new left-turn signals at two intersections (completed in 2011) and the replacement of another intersection with a roundabout (completed in 2012).

Embrun is located 8 km south of Highway 417, a major freeway that links Ottawa and Montreal, and which is part of the Trans-Canada Highway network. Two exits--#88 and #79—provide access to Embrun. St-Guillaume Road links Exit #88 with Notre-Dame Street, while Limoges Road does the same for Exit #79. St-Guillaume Road and Exit #88 is the busier of the two, because it is significantly closer to Ottawa. Embrun's rapid growth in recent years as well as an increased trend of commuting to Ottawa for work has led to congestion on St-Guillaume Road. A study by the county council proposed widening St-Guillaume Road into a four-lane road, or introducing a new corridor to the highway in between exits #88 and #79. Embrun also has a small bike lane network. A bicycle route runs east–west through the community. This route consists of a bike trail in the western part of the community, a bike lane on Blais Street in the centre, and a bike lane on Centenaire Street in the east. A privately operated airfield, the Ottawa/Embrun Aerodrome is located to the southwest of the urban area of Embrun.

Embrun, Ontario: Public Transit

In recent years, transit service has been introduced to the community. The municipal government, through a contract with Trillium Coach Lines, runs three peak-hour express routes to downtown Ottawa from Embrun. They are:

  • Route 523, which arrives in Ottawa for 7:00AM and leaves Ottawa a little after 3:00PM
  • Route 524, which arrives in Ottawa for 7:30AM and leaves Ottawa at 4:00PM
  • Route 525, which arrives in Ottawa for 7:50AM and leaves Ottawa at 4:15PM

As this route is contracted with a private company, fares are high. A monthly pass costs $247, while one-way cash fare is $15. Because of this, some Embrun residents instead take OC Transpo route #232, which has a stop at a park and ride lot 8 km north of Embrun. This is considerably cheaper (Route #232 costs $119 for a monthly pass and $4.65 for one-way), but less convenient, as OC Transpo does not service the community itself, meaning Embrun residents have to drive 8 km to the park and ride lot to ride OC Transpo. Route 232 also has later scheduled times—the latest trip on the 232 arrives in Ottawa for 8:20am, and leaves Ottawa at 5:15pm, which is much more convenient for Embrun residents who work 9:00AM-5:00PM