Discovering Prescott, Ontario: A Historical and Cultural Journey
Prescott, Ontario, a charming town nestled on the north shore of the Saint Lawrence River, is a part of the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville. With a population of 4,078 in 2021, this Canadian town is a hub of history and culture. The Ogdensburg–Prescott International Bridge, located 5 kilometres east of Prescott at Johnstown, connects the town with the city of Ogdensburg, New York.
The Founding of Prescott, Ontario
Prescott was founded in the early 19th century by Edward Jessup, a Loyalist soldier during the American Revolution. He named the village after Robert Prescott, a former Governor-in-Chief. Before 1834, the town was a part of Augusta township. However, in that year, Prescott became a police village and severed its ties with Augusta. The land here was ideal for settlement during the 18th and 19th centuries as it was situated between Montreal and Kingston along the St. Lawrence River at the head of the rapids.
The French Period in Prescott, Ontario
Before the arrival of Europeans to the Grenville County area, it was inhabited by the St. Lawrence Iroquois. The French began occupation of the area in the late 17th century, starting with a supply depot and fortified outpost named La Galette en route to Fort Frontenac (Kingston), which was built in the 1670s. Some sources place La Galette at Prescott, while others place it at neighbouring Johnstown.
The area became a battleground during the 1754−1763 French and Indian War between Britain and France, as both parties wanted to control what was a strategic stretch of the Saint Lawrence River. This led to the 1760 Battle of the Thousand Islands, when a 10,000-strong British–Iroquois force besieged the French at Fort Lévis.
Arrival of the Loyalists in Prescott, Ontario
British settlement in the area began with a group of United Empire Loyalists led by Edward Jessup. After the American Revolutionary War, members of the regiment were resettled in what would later become Eastern Ontario. Jessup, his son, and their followers settled in Augusta and Edwardsburgh townships.
Fort Wellington: A Historical Landmark in Prescott, Ontario
In 1810, Jessup and his son laid out a townsite within Augusta Township near Johnstown, which they named Prescott in honour of General Robert Prescott. With the outbreak of the War of 1812, American troops began using Ogdensburg and Fort Oswegatchie as a base to raid settlements in Upper Canada. The British Army expropriated the two Jessup home plots for use as a barracks and later constructed a purpose-built fort, which was named Fort Wellington.
The Transport Industry in Prescott, Ontario
Prescott's harbour developed considerably in the early 19th century, supporting the growing Great Lakes shipping industry. It became notable for its freight forwarding businesses, as local forwarders shuttled Great Lakes freight between Prescott and Montreal.
Project Jericho: A Dark Chapter in Prescott, Ontario's History
Project Jericho, one of the largest and most highly publicized sexual abuse investigations in Canada, took place in the 1980s–1990s in Prescott. The case was sensationalized as an example of Satanic ritual abuse, though it was never linked to a satanic cult.
The St Lawrence Shakespeare Festival in Prescott, Ontario
The St Lawrence Shakespeare Festival (SLSF) runs annually in Prescott, Ontario in July and August, attracting thousands of audience members each season. The offerings of the Festival are based on two mainstage shows that run from mid-July to mid-August.
Cemeteries in Prescott, Ontario
Prescott contains two cemeteries, Prescott Cemetery (known as Sandy Hill) and St. Mark's Roman Catholic Cemetery. Prescott Cemetery is one of the oldest burying grounds in the area. The Roman Catholics of Prescott were originally buried in Prescott cemetery, which had a reserved area specifically for Roman Catholic burials.
Demographics of Prescott, Ontario
In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Prescott had a population of 4,078 living in 1,889 of its 1,993 total private dwellings, a change of -3.4% from its 2016 population of 4,222. With a land area of 4.94 km2 (1.91 sq mi), it had a population density of 825.5/km2 (2,138.1/sq mi) in 2021.