Windsor, Ontario Canada

Discover Windsor, Ontario: A City of Rich History and Diverse Culture

Windsor, Ontario, is a vibrant city located in southwestern Ontario, Canada, on the south bank of the Detroit River. It is directly across from Detroit, Michigan, United States. As the southernmost city in Canada, Windsor marks the southwestern end of the Quebec City–Windsor Corridor. With a population of 229,660 at the 2021 census, it is the third-most populated city in Southwestern Ontario, after London and Kitchener.

Windsor is a major contributor to Canada's automotive industry and is known as the "Automotive Capital of Canada". Its industrial and manufacturing heritage has significantly shaped the city's development over the years. The city is also culturally diverse, offering a rich blend of history, arts, and entertainment.

The History of Windsor, Ontario

Early Settlement in Windsor, Ontario

The Detroit River region, where Windsor now stands, was inhabited by the Huron, Odawa, Potawatomi, and Iroquois First Nations when the first Europeans arrived in the 17th century. The land along the Detroit River was part of the Three Fires Confederacy between the Ojibwe, Potawatomi, and Odawa and was referred to as Wawiiatanong or Wawiiatanong Ziibi, meaning "where the river bends" in Anishinaabemowin.

Later Settlement and Development in Windsor, Ontario

A French agricultural settlement was established at the site of Windsor in 1749, making it the oldest continually inhabited European-founded settlement in Canada west of Montreal. The area was first named la Petite Côte ("Little Coast") and later La Côte de Misère ("Poverty Coast") due to the sandy soils near LaSalle.

Windsor's French-Canadian heritage is reflected in French street names such as Ouellette, Drouillard, Pelissier, François, Pierre, Langlois, Marentette, and Lauzon. The current street system reflects the Canadien method of agricultural land division, where the farms were long and narrow, fronting along the river.

In 1797, after the American Revolution, the settlement of "Sandwich" was established. It was later renamed Windsor, after the town in Berkshire, England. The Sandwich neighbourhood on Windsor's west side is home to some of the city's oldest buildings, including Mackenzie Hall, originally built as the Essex County Courthouse in 1855. Today, this building is a community centre. The city's oldest building is the Duff-Baby House built in 1792. It is owned by Ontario Heritage Trust and houses government offices.

Windsor, Ontario in the 19th Century

The François Baby House in downtown Windsor was built in 1812 and houses Windsor's Community Museum, dedicated to local history. Windsor was the site of a battle during the 1838 Upper Canada Rebellion. It was attacked by a band of 400 Americans and rebels from Detroit who burned a steamboat and two or three houses before being routed by the local militia. Later that year, Windsor also served as a theatre for the Patriot War.

In 1846, Windsor had a population of about 300. Two steamboats offered service to Detroit. The barracks were still manned. There were various types of tradesmen, a bank agency, and a post office. The city's access to the Canada–US border made it a key stop for refugee slaves gaining freedom in the northern United States along the Underground Railroad. Many went across the Detroit River to Windsor to escape pursuit by slave catchers. There were estimated to be 20,000 to 30,000 African-American refugees who settled in Canada, with many settling in Essex County, Ontario.

Windsor was incorporated as a village in 1854, then became a town in 1858, and gained city status in 1892. The Windsor Police Service was established on July 1, 1867. A fire consumed much of Windsor's downtown core on October 12, 1871, destroying more than 100 buildings.

Windsor, Ontario in the 20th Century

Sandwich, Ford City, and Walkerville were separate legal entities (towns) until 1935. They are now historic neighbourhoods of Windsor. Ford City was incorporated as a village in 1912; it became a town in 1915, and a city in 1929. Walkerville was incorporated as a town in 1890. Sandwich was established in 1817 as a town with no municipal status. It was incorporated as a town in 1858 (the same year as neighbouring Windsor).

Windsor annexed these three towns in 1935. The nearby villages of Ojibway and Riverside were incorporated in 1913 and 1921, respectively. Both were annexed by Windsor in 1966. During the 1920s, alcohol prohibition was enforced in Michigan while alcohol was legal in Ontario. Rum-running in Windsor was a common practice during that time.

Climate of Windsor, Ontario

Windsor has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfa) with four distinct seasons. Among cities in Ontario, Windsor has the warmest climate. The mean annual temperature is 9.9 °C (50 °F), among the warmest in Canada primarily due to its hot summers. Some locations in coastal and lower mainland British Columbia have a slightly higher mean annual temperature due to milder winter conditions there. The coldest month is January and the warmest month is July. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Windsor was −32.8 °C (−27.0 °F) on January 29, 1873, and the warmest was 40.2 °C (104.4 °F) on June 25, 1988.

Flooding and Other Emergencies in Windsor, Ontario

Windsor experienced historic flooding in 2016, 2017, and 2019. In 2016, the mayor of Windsor, Drew Dilkens, declared a state of emergency because of the disastrous flooding that occurred. In spring of 2019, Windsor applied for disaster mitigation funding following widespread flooding. A previous state of emergency in Windsor was called in 2013 when a fire broke out at a plastic recycling warehouse. This state of emergency was called due to poor air quality caused by the fire. In 2017, Windsor was noted on Environment Canada's top 10 list of weather events. In late August 2017, Windsor faced a storm that left 285 millimetres (11.2 in) of rain in 32 hours.

Tornadoes in Windsor, Ontario

As the Canadian city with the highest number of days that experience severe thunderstorms and lightning, Windsor has historically been subject to tornadoes and severe weather. It is notable that Windsor is located in the middle of tornado alley. The strongest and deadliest tornado to touch down in Windsor was an F4 in 1946. Windsor was the only Canadian city to experience a tornado during the 1974 Super Outbreak, an F3 which killed nine people when it destroyed the Windsor Curling Club. The city was grazed by the 1997 Southeast Michigan tornado outbreak with one tornado (an F1) forming east of the city. Tornadoes have been recorded crossing the Detroit River (in 1946 and 1997), and waterspouts are regularly seen over Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie, especially in autumn.

The Cityscape of Windsor, Ontario

Ouellette Avenue is the historic main commercial street in downtown Windsor. It runs north–south, perpendicular to the Detroit River, and divides the city into east and west sections. Roads that cross Ouellette Avenue include the directional components East and West after their names. Address numbers on east–west roads in Windsor increase by 100 for each block travelled away from Ouellette Avenue and address numbers on north–south roads increase by 100 for each block travelled away from the Detroit River. In areas where the river curves, some numbers on north–south roads are skipped. For consistency across the city, all address numbers on north–south roads reset at either 600, for streets west of Walker Road, or 800 for those to the east, where the road crosses Wyandotte Street (which roughly parallels the Detroit River).

Windsor's Department of Parks and Recreation maintains 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres) of green space, 180 parks, 64 km (40 mi) of trails, 35 km (22 mi) of sidewalks, 60 parking lots, vacant lands, natural areas and forest cover within the city of Windsor. The largest park is Mic Mac Park, which can accommodate many different activities, including baseball, soccer, biking, and sledding. Windsor has numerous bike trails, the largest being the Ganatchio Trail on the far east side of the city. In recent years, city council has pushed for the addition of bicycle lanes on city streets to provide links throughout the existing trail network.

Demographics of Windsor, Ontario

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Windsor had a population of 229,660 living in 94,273 of its 99,803 total private dwellings, a change of 5.7% from its 2016 population of 217,188. With a land area of 146.02 km2 (56.38 sq mi), it had a population density of 1,572.8/km2 (4,073.5/sq mi) in 2021.

Windsor attracts many immigrants from around the world. In 2016, in the city 27.7% of the population was foreign-born while in the metropolitan area, 22.9% of the population was foreign-born; this is the fourth-highest proportion for a Canadian metropolitan area. Visible minorities make up 25.7% of the population, making it the most diverse city in Ontario outside of the Greater Toronto Area.

Language in Windsor, Ontario

The population of Windsor is primarily English-speaking, with 88.5% of residents having knowledge only of English and 8.8% of residents having knowledge of both English and French.

Culture and Tourism in Windsor, Ontario

Windsor tourist attractions include the Windsor International Film Festival, Caesars Windsor, a lively downtown club scene, Little Italy, the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, the Art Windsor-Essex gallery, the Odette Sculpture Park, Windsor Light Music Theatre, Adventure Bay Water Park, and Ojibway Park. As a border settlement, Windsor was a site of conflict during the War of 1812,