Located near Lions Park in Brantford, close to the Grand River and trails, this area will become the War of 1812 Peace Garden in 2013. Located just south of “Brant’s Ford,” it is along the route travelled by American General Duncan McArthur during his raid of the Grand River...
The gateway to Ontario's southwest
Known as the gateway to Ontario’s southwest, the area which encompasses Brant County, the City of Brantford, Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, and the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, is also the location of many intriguing moments in Canadian history, not to mention home to several notable Canadians.
Long before European settlement, the Grand River Valley was a major First Nations trading district. Details of its rich, 11,000-year heritage can be found at the Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford.
Early settlers recognized the strategic importance that informed the river’s stately passage from its headwaters near Georgian Bay to its mouth at Lake Erie. Paths that led to crossings became key to settlement of Upper Canada’s wilderness.
In 1784, the British government granted land six miles on either side of the river from Lake Erie to present-day Fergus to its First Nations allies when they left the United States for Canada after the American Revolution. One of those who arrived in this newly formed territory was Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea), who would eventually open it to European and American settlers.
The area and its residents were of great tactical importance during the War of 1812. Twice, the great General Isaac Brock visited to win support of the Six Nations community, which became a valued ally. Then, on November 6, 1814, after high river waters thwarted American plans to raid Grand River and Lake Ontario settlements, they decided to retreat and encountered Canadian militia near Oakland and Scotland at Malcolm’s Mills.
Many of the stops along the quilt block trail detail moments from the war. They also highlight the area’s engaging architectural and community heritage.
In Paris, whose industry was built in the 1800s on gypsum deposits and knitting mills, explore the cobblestone homes and breathtaking view of the Grand that once earned the community the title “prettiest little town in Canada.” Paris was also home to legendary Toronto Maple Leafs hockey player and champion pole-vaulter Syl Apps, and the new Paris Museum & Archives can be found in the Syl Apps Community Centre.
In nearby Brantford, hockey great Wayne Gretzky gained his first skating experience in a backyard rink. Telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell also called this city home.
The Grand River is one of only 37 designated heritage rivers in Canada and as you follow its storied past, enjoy the many other attractions available. With over 70 kilometres of trails, including a portion of the Trans-Canada trail, nature is only a short walk, cycle or snowshoe away. Explore the Grand by boat or raft - and don’t forget to pack your fishing pole!
From outdoor adventures and family fun, tofunky bistros and fine dining, there are dining and recreational experiences to suit everyone’s taste. Savour a delicious strawberry drink, a hallmark in Iroquoian culture, or attend the annual Bread and Cheese Day, a celebration established by Queen Victoria to honour the Six Nations community’s allegiance during the War of 1812. And whether your preference is camping, B&B, hotel or conference centre, the area has it all!
Interested in exploring the region’s rich history further? Visit County of Brant Public Library, Brantford Public Library or one of the area’s 16 museums or galleries for more information www.bmga.ca.