St. Thomas, Ontario Canada

Discover St. Thomas, Ontario: A City Rich in History and Culture

St. Thomas, Ontario, is a city steeped in history and culture. Located in southwestern Ontario, Canada, it is the seat for Elgin County, although it operates independently of the county. As of the 2021 Census, the city boasts a population of 42,918.

The History of St. Thomas, Ontario

St. Thomas was first settled in 1810, at the intersection of two historical roads. It was named the seat of the new Elgin County in 1844 and was incorporated as a village in 1852, then as a town in 1861. On March 4, 1881, St. Thomas gained its city charter. The city was named after Thomas Talbot, who played a significant role in promoting the development of this region during the early 19th century.

The founder of the settlement that became St. Thomas was Capt. Daniel Rapelje, a descendant of a Walloon family settled in New Amsterdam, now New York City, in the seventeenth century. In 1820, Rapelje divided his land into town lots suitable for a village. He later donated two acres of land for the building of Old St. Thomas Church.

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, several railways were constructed through the city, making St. Thomas an important railway junction. A total of 26 railways have passed through the city since the first railway was completed in 1856.

St. Thomas, Ontario: A Military History

St. Thomas has a rich military history. The 31 Combat Engineer Regiment (The Elgins) was created in 1997 when the former Elgin Regiment (RCAC) was re-roled from an armour tasking. The regiment has been associated with St. Thomas since its creation. St. Thomas Armoury is a recognized Federal Heritage building 1992 on the Register of the Government of Canada Heritage Buildings.

Demographics of St. Thomas, Ontario

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, St. Thomas had a population of 42,840 living in 18,062 of its 18,596 total private dwellings, a change of 10.1% from its 2016 population of 38,909. With a land area of 35.61 km2 (13.75 sq mi), it had a population density of 1,190/km2 (3,082/sq mi) in 2021.

Transportation in St. Thomas, Ontario

St. Thomas is accessible via Ontario Highway 3 and Ontario Highway 4. The city is served by the St. Thomas Municipal Airport (YQS), which is used for general aviation only. A bi-annual large-scale air show takes place at the St. Thomas Municipal Airport.

Parks in St. Thomas, Ontario

St. Thomas is home to two major parks: Pinafore Park in the south, beside Pinafore Lake; and Waterworks Park in the north, which is straddled by Kettle Creek and the Waterworks Reservoir nearby. The Trans Canada Trail goes through St. Thomas, with a pavilion located in Jonas Street Park.

Cultural Activities in St. Thomas, Ontario

The Elgin Military Museum and the Elgin County Railway Museum are located in St. Thomas. The city is also home to the North America Railway Hall of Fame, which is located in the CASO train station. The Elgin Theatre Guild, located at 40 Princess Avenue, is home to a thriving community theatre.

Heritage Buildings in St. Thomas, Ontario

As a county seat and major railway junction, St. Thomas was an important and vibrant town in early Ontario. As such, the city has a significant number of pre-1914 heritage buildings, including St. Thomas Town Hall, Elgin County Courthouse, St. Thomas Carnegie Library, and St. Thomas Armoury.

Lost Heritage of St. Thomas, Ontario

St. Thomas has also lost some of its heritage buildings over the years, including Alma College, which burned down in 2008, and Myrtle Street School, which was demolished in 2014.