The History of Grimsby, Ontario

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History of Grimsby, Ontario


Grimsby is one of the beautiful towns located in the municipality of Niagara, province of Ontario, Canada. It has a population of 25,325 according to the 2011 census.

Grimsby consists of town councils where council members are elected to work for the betterment of the town. It is a growing economy and has developed rapidly over the past few decades.

It experiences all the 4 weathers; spring, summer, autumn and winter with temperatures ranging from -16 degrees in winters to 36 degrees in summer.

The town is characterized with a rich historical background. It has many ancient churches and parks. Grimsby has its own museum as well.

The archeological remains from the town of Grimsby revealed that in the 1600s Grimsby was home to Neutral Indians. More of these remains can be found at Centennial Park.

Grimsby in late 1700s

It was the time when in 1790 the town was founded by a group of American Loyalists from New York, New Pennsylvania and New Jersey who migrated from United States in 1787 to the 40 Mile Creek. These loyalists supported the British Crown during the American Revolution.

Grimsby was initially named as Township Number 6 which was then changed to “The Forty”. Later in 1816 the township received its current name.

One of the founding fathers of the town, Robert Nelles, worked as a politician as well as military personnel. He also assumed the role of a clergyman and performed quite a few marriages in the town back then when there were no clergymen.

His Georgian style residence, Nelles Manor, is still preserved to date and is one of the tourist attractions in the town. The construction of his house started in 1788 and lasted till 1798. The house is now located on the Main Street in Grimsby.

It was estimated that around 100 individuals inhibited the town by 1794. The earliest constructions in the town included a church made out of logs.

Grimsby in 1800s

A renowned blacksmith shop was built by Allen Nixon in 1800. It was of much use in the World War. The World War began in 1812 between United States and Britain. Being a neighbor to United States, the effects of the war reached different parts of Canada as well.

In 1813, Forty Mile Creek, Niagara was attacked by the enemy and the event became known as the Engagement at the Forty. The residents also paid the price of the war. The homes were burnt, families were split and infrastructure was severely damaged.

To commemorate the event, a plaque is placed on the area of attack. Today, this plaque is a part of the 40 Mile Creek Park. In the post-war era, residents of Grimsby took the initiative to re-build the town.

The famous and much loved Grimsby Park also originated in the early 1800s. Plantation of trees was done on a large basis. Fruit industry was also developed. All these efforts led to the naming of the Grimsby and its surrounding area as “The Garden of Canada”.

One of today’s favorite tourist’s attractions an impressive residence – Echo Hall was constructed in 1842 by C. Woolverton at 366 Main Street West.

In 1846, Methodists – people who follow Protestant Christianity started gathering in the park. By 1859, a Methodist rally was organized under the supervision of John Beamer Bowslaugh who was a resident of Grimsby. Chautauqua, for the first time in Canada, was formed.

In 1874, Ontario Methodist Camp Ground Company was established. For the time period the place became a favorite destination for people for around the world.

The place became known as the “Pride of Canada” and “Chautauqua of Canada” where thousands of people enjoyed art performances, lectures, sermons, musical shows and much more. It was estimated that in 1884 around 50,000 people visited the place.

Grimsby in 1900s

The Grimsby Park kept flourishing till 1906, the year in which a huge picnic was arranged. Unfortunately, the company which ran the park became bankrupt in 1909.

Grimsby Park was then purchase by H.H. Wylie who converted it into an amusement park with roller coasters, movie theatres and company picnics. Today, Grimsby Park is known as Grimsby Beach which holds cottages and which attracts residents.

Elizabeth street pump house was constructed in 1905 when it was the only water providing facility throughout Grimsby. In 1998, a new pump house was constructed. Today it is considered one of the heritage buildings in the township.

During the 1900s, the town of Grimsby saw a lot of changes. In 1911, The Carnegie Building was built using the 8000$ grant which was given by Carnegie Corporation of New York. The building was formed with the aim of fostering knowledge and growth in the town.

In 1922 the village of Grimsby became a part of the township. With humble beginnings and rural background, the township grew into what it is today – a modern city.

In the 1900s, the town has served the country through its manufacturing of metal products, furnaces, furniture and other equipment.

Late in 1960s, the farming and the fishing industry of Grimsby flourished. The yield included some of the finest fishes and fruits of the country.

In 1984, the Grimsby Museum was formed which includes galleries, information and the rich history of the events and attractions of the town. Year round events like exhibitions and depictions from the early fruit industry take place at the museum.

Grimsby today – In 2000s


The town of Grimsby is one of the favorite tourist’s attractions in the Niagara regions. People from around the world come to visit the city’s top-class wineries and distilleries.

Interestingly, the tour of the wine area of Niagara starts with Grimsby. So each year it receives thousands of visitors. The official guide to history and heritage of Grimsby provides that the town holds around 200 registered heritages.

If you plan on visiting Grimsby, make sure that you visit Grimsby Beach where colorful cottages are a wonderful sight to enjoy. The Annual Doors Open festival is also an attractive event when ancient heritage is displayed for tourists especially the ancient railway which is an eye-catching object.

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