Main Births etc
Essex County
—  County  —
Official seal of Essex County
Location of Essex County in Ontario
Coordinates: 42°10′N 82°47′W / 42.167, -82.783Coordinates: 42°10′N 82°47′W / 42.167, -82.783
Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
Settled 1749
County seat
Administrative seat
Essex, Ontario
 • Warden Tom Bain (also Mayor of Lakeshore)
 • Deputy Warden Gary McNamara (also Mayor of Tecumseh, acting as warden)
 • Land 1,704.5 km2 (658.1 sq mi)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 177,891
 • Density 104.4/km2 (270/sq mi)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Area code(s) 519/226

Essex County is the southern-most county and census division in Canada located in Southwestern Ontario. The administrative seat is the Town of Essex. Essex County has a population of 177,891, and the census division including Windsor has a population of 388,782 as of the Canada 2011 Census, making it one of the most populous divisions in Ontario.[1]


The current municipalities in Essex County are:



  • Pelee (Pelee Island)

The City of Windsor is governed as a separated municipality but is part of the Essex Census division and many services are joint "city/county".


File:Essex county map.jpg

Map of Essex county

Essex County is largely composed of clay-based soils, with sandy soils along the beaches and shores. For the most part, Essex County is flat farmland, with some woodlots. There is a small 30–50 foot (10–15 m) high ridge near Kingsville and Leamington in the southern part of the county, and large marshland near Hillman Marsh Conservation Area, and Point Pelee National park. The most built-up part of the county is the city of Windsor, Ontario. Excluding Windsor (which is a Separated Municipality), Leamington is the most-urbanized part of the county.

Adjacent counties and municipalities[]


Essex County hosts some of the warmest summer weather in Canada, noting that it is the most southern part of Canada. The area always has four distinct seasons. Cold, wet winters with considerable amounts of snow, and warm or hot summers. Early spring to late summer are the best time for thunderstorm development. Thunderstorms are likely every five to seven days during the spring and summer time period. (Windsor, Ontario is the "thunderstorm capital" of Canada). Many storms are categorized as severe, often bringing small to significant sized hail and strong, possibly damaging winds. Tornadoes can be likely with certain storms. Most storms travel from Michigan into Ontario, allowing storm coverage from Detroit TV stations like WXYZ-TV ,WDIV and Fox 2. Southwestern Ontario averages the most tornadoes in Canada. Temperatures usually cool by mid to late October, making way for winter. Snowfall will usually start between mid-November to Late-December.

The year 2011 was under average for snowfall. Several winter temperatures were milder than normal, limiting the amount of snowfall and snow accumulation in the Essex County Area.


Early settlement[]

Thames River Lighthouse, in Essex County, Ontario, built in 1818.

Essex was one of the first counties to be settled in Upper Canada, later to become Ontario, mostly by French people in the mid-18th century. Around 1749, the first permanent settlements began to appear on what is now the Canadian side of the Detroit River which despite its name is not a "river", but a "strait" connecting Lake Huron and the smaller Lake Saint Clair in the north to Lake Erie in the south, as part of the Great Lakes system in the middle of the North American continent. Lower down the river, lands were occupied by native people known as "Wyandots" or "Hurons", around the Mission of Bois Blanc (French for White Wood) as a centre opposite the island of the same name. The Mission was eventually abandoned and re-established closer to what became Sandwich Township, and was closer to the safety of the British fortified Fort Detroit. When farmers first arrived, they encountered difficulty in trying to clear the extremely thick forests that covered Essex County. The farmers grew to "hate" the trees, and chopped them down, starved them from nourishment by cutting deep gashes in the bark, and burned them to clear the way to get to the fertile soils underneath. The fires were so intense, that the reddish glow could be seen from Fort Chicago, 300 miles (500 km) away, as millions of cords of wood burned.

Settlement continued southward along the river and was known as "Petit Cote" (Small Coast), which was a reference to the shorter length of river frontage compared to the Detroit/American side. Names such as LaSalle and Ojibway appeared which continue to be in use. The first road in Ontario was laid out to connect the settlements, which is now over 200 years old and is known as Former King's Highway 18 (now County Road 20).

When river frontage along "Petit Cote" was occupied, settlement began to extend toward Lake St. Clair, which became known as the "Assumption Settlement". In the late 18th Century and early 19th century the French ventured east along the south shore of Lake Saint Clair and settled in the present day areas of Belle River (Belle-Rivière), Rochester, Tecumseh, Saint-Joachim and Stoney Point (Pointe-aux-Roche). These communities still have a large "francophone" population.

Amherstburg and Sandwich were the first towns established in Essex County, both in 1796 after the British finally ceded and evacuated Fort Detroit along the Detroit River by the terms of the "Jay Treaty" negotiated by John Jay, and signed in 1794, which upheld the original boundary lines along the Great Lakes between the U.S.A. and Upper Canada by the Treaty of Paris of 1783 and the wider set of treaties known as the "Peace of Paris" which ended the American Revolution (1775-1783)and over overseas European and multi-continental wars and ceded the territory of eastern North America to be the United States. Fort Malden was built near Amherstburg, opposite Bois Blanc Island, separating the British military presence from the larger-populated area of Sandwich upstream, and positioned strategically to control the entrance of the river from Lake Erie and Lake Huron to the north. The populations of both towns were augmented by people immigrating from the southern United States after the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), from the new City of Detroit who chose to remain British subjects, known as "Loyalists" or "United Empire Loyalists".

After the American Revolution, and the War of 1812 (1812-1815), people continued to migrate north to the area, and coming from the east from Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River of Lower Canada seeking land. Settlers began to move eastward along the north shore of Lake Erie. Land was purchased from the Indians in the southern half of the current county, located in the four townships formerly known as Gosfield North and South and Colchester North and South. The British Court made land available for settlement, provided that the land bear certain improvements within a year and that it not be used for speculation. This area became known as the "New Settlement" (as compared to the "Old Settlement" of the towns of Amherstburg and Sandwich. Settlers in this area included "Hessians" who fought for the British against the American rebels, (especially known in history at the Battle of Trenton in New Jersey on Christmas 1776) and Pennsylvania Dutch pacifists (Mennonites, many from Pennsylvania).

Formation of Essex County[]

In 1791, the province of Upper Canada was formed. In 1792, Upper Canada was divided into nineteen counties, of which Essex was the eighteenth and part of the Western District. At that time, the eastern boundary of Essex County extended further east into what is now Kent County. Settlement continued, on January 1, 1800 an Act for the Better Division of the Province established the Townships of Rochester, Mersea, Gosfield, Maidstone, Sandwich and Malden.

Settlement 1820 to 1850[]

Longer roads began to appear in the County after the War of 1812, the first of which followed Indian trails. Colonel Thomas Talbot contributed to road development, and Talbot Road was named for him. Talbot Road followed a natural ridge of glacial moraine which stretched from Windsor to Point Pelee.

The establishment of good roads led to further settlement along the 'Middle Road' and in the area of what is now Leamington. Settlers of this era were often emigrants from Britain and Ireland; in the 1840s the potato crop famines led to significant immigration. The village of Maidstone was the centre of the Irish community, and an area known as the "Scotch Colony" appeared along the shore of Lake St.Clair to the north.

Essex County was also a destination of the "Underground Railroad" by which African slaves in the 19th Century United States escaped to freedom. The John Freeman Walls Historic Site in Maidstone (Lakeshore) is testament to this period. Many of the descendants of the fugitives moved back to the United States to support the Northerners Union Army in the American Civil War, (1861-1865), or to reconnect with family after emancipation.

Economic development 1850 to Present[]

Windmills in Essex County, Ontario, Canada.

In 1854 the Great Western Railway connected the Detroit frontier with the east, crossing Essex County. The Canadian terminal was in Windsor, which consequently forged ahead of the other towns of the county. Other railway lines were built which connected settlements in Kingsville, Harrow, Essex and Leamington.

By the late 19th century Essex County had seen fur trading and logging, land clearing and farming, road building and railway development, saw mills and gristmills, railway stations and water ports. By this time the forests were disappearing, replaced by fertile farmland.

Also noticeable in some farmers' fields, are oil pumps, particularly near Belle River and Leamington, Ontario, in the northern and eastern parts of the county, respectively. This is from oil shale within the bedrock of the Marcellus Formation.

Essex County is home to Canada's largest wind farm as of June 2012. This is due, both to its ideal wind conditions and abundance of available farm land.[2]

Essex County restructuring, 1990s[]

In 1992, discussions began to take place to reduce the number of individual municipalities, which at the time numbered 21 in the County. This culminated on January 1, 1999 when a Minister's Order by the Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing was implemented, putting in place the new municipal structure for the County of Essex.

Township Township seat
Anderdon Township Amherstburg
Colchester North Essex
Colchester South Harrow
Gosfield North Cottam
Gosfield South Kingsville
Maidstone Belle River
Malden Malden Centre
Mersea Leamington
Pelee Pelee, Ontario
Rochester St. Joachim
Sandwich East Windsor
Sandwich South Tecumseh
Sandwich West LaSalle
Tilbury North Stoney Point
Tilbury West Comber


  • Anderdon - Now part of Amherstburg
  • Colchester North - Now part of Essex
  • Colchester South - Now part of Essex
  • Gosfield North - Now part of Kingsville
  • Gosfield South - Now part of Kingsville
  • Maidstone - Now part of Lakeshore
  • Malden - Now part of Amherstburg
  • Mersea - Now part of Leamington
  • Pelee - Still exists
  • Rochester - Now part of Lakeshore
  • Sandwich East - Parts in Windsor and in Tecumseh
  • Sandwich South - Now in Tecumseh
  • Sandwich West - Parts in LaSalle and in Windsor
  • Tilbury North - Now in Lakeshore
  • Tilbury West - Now in Lakeshore


  • Amherstburg, Ontario (former town of, now merged with Anderdon Twp. and Malden Twp.)
  • Belle River, Ontario
  • Essex, Ontario (former town of, merged with Colchester N. Twp. and Colchester S. Twp.)
  • Harrow, Ontario
  • Kingsville, Ontario (former town of, merged with Gosfield N. Twp. and Gosfield S. Twp.)
  • Leamington, Ontario (former town of, merged with Mersea Twp.)
  • St. Clair Beach, Ontario
  • Tecumseh, Ontario (former town of, merged with Sandwich S. Twp)


Figures below are for the Essex census division, which combines Essex County and the City of Windsor.

Historic populations:[4]

  • Population in 2001: 374,975
  • Population in 1996: 350,329

The City of Windsor makes up the majority of the county's population, skewing the census data. Statistics without Windsor are:

  • Land area: 1,704.46 square kilometres (658.10 sq mi)
  • Population (2011): 177,891
  • Density: 104.4 per square kilometre (270 /sq mi)


The County of Essex is governed by a County Council, whose members are the Mayors and Deputy Mayors from the seven lower-tier municipalities of the County. The Head of Council is known as the Warden. The term of office for County Councillors and the Warden coincides with the frequency of municipal elections in Ontario, in other words a person elected to be Mayor of Leamington, for example, will be a member of County Council for the term that she or he is Mayor. Nelson Santos, Mayor of Kingsville, was chosen to be Warden in December, 2006. A complete list (from 1853 to present) of the past Wardens of Essex County is here.

County government is responsible for issues which include transportation, community and social services (e.g. homes for the aged, child care, social housing), libraries, planning, emergency management coordination and corporate-wide business such as finance and taxation policies, general corporate policy and labour relations. The County does not have a police force or fire services, for which the seven municipalities are responsible.


English-language public education for kindergarten through secondary school grades in Essex County is administered by the Greater Essex County District School Board, along with the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board which oversees English-language catholic education.

French-language public and catholic education are overseen by the Conseil scolaire Viamonde and the Conseil scolaire de district des écoles catholiques du Sud-Ouest respectively. The scope of all of these organizations includes both the County and the City of Windsor.

Prior to 1998 the Essex County Board of Education operated Anglophone secular public schools.

Public post-secondary education is available at the University of Windsor, St. Clair College, and more recently Collège Boréal.



Essex County's Official Tartan.

Essex County also has an official tartan.

The tartan's colours correspond to different meanings.

  • Golden/Yellow is meant to stand for sunshine, also for the rich agriculture and golden harvests of the many farmed plants (grains, corn, soy beans, barley, oats and wheat).
  • Green stands for the spring fields around Essex County.
  • Red represents tomatoes, as Leamington is the "Tomato Capital of Canada", and for other fruits, such as apples.
  • Blue stands for the blue skies and the waterways of the county.
  • Black is meant to represent the automotive industry that fuels Windsor and Essex County.
  • White represents the salt mines in Windsor and western Essex County, and fish in the surrounding rivers and lakes.

Notable people[]

  • Naturalist Jack Miner
  • Cartoonist Jeff Lemire
  • Olympic gold medalist in ice hockey Meghan Agosta
  • Electronic Music Artist Richie Hawtin
  • Historian Michael Bliss

See also[]

  • List of municipalities in Ontario
  • List of townships in Ontario


  1. ^ a b c d "Essex County census profile". 2011 Census of Population. Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2012-03-28.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "cp2011" defined multiple times with different content
  2. ^ Hall, David (June 5, 2012). The Windsor Star. Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  3. ^ "2006 Community Profiles". Canada 2006 Census. Statistics Canada. March 30, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-28. 
  4. ^ a b "2001 Community Profiles". Canada 2001 Census. Statistics Canada. February 17, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-28. 

Further reading[]

  • John Clarke. The Ordinary People of Essex: Environment, Culture, and Economy on the Frontier of Upper Canada (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2010)

External links[]

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This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Essex County, Ontario. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.