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Brantford, Ontario

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Brantford, Ontario

Not to be confused with Brentford, England.
Independent city
Official logo of Brantford
Nickname(s): The Telephone City

Coordinates: 43°10′N 80°15′W / 43.167°N 80.250°W / 43.167; -80.250Coordinates: 43°10′N 80°15′W / 43.167°N 80.250°W / 43.167; -80.250

Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
County Brant (independent)
Established May 31, 1877
 • Mayor Chris Friel
 • Governing Body Brantford City Council
 • MP Phil McColeman (Conservative)
 • MPP Dave Levac (Liberal)
Area[1][1] [2][2]
 • Land 72.47 km2 (27.98 sq mi)
 • Metro 1,073.11 km2 (414.33 sq mi)
Elevation 248 m (814 ft)
Population (2011)[1][2]
 • Independent city 93,650 (54th)
 • Density 1,292.3/km2 (3,347/sq mi)
 • Metro 135,501 (30th)
 • Metro density 126.3/km2 (327/sq mi)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC−5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC−4)
Postal code span N3P, N3R, N3S, N3T, N3V
Area code(s) 519/226

Brantford is a city in southern Ontario, Canada, and the seat of Brant County. It is connected to Woodstock in the west and Hamilton in the east by Highway 403 and to Cambridge to the north and Simcoe to the south by Highway 24.

Brantford is sometimes known by its style The Telephone City, as a former city resident, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone at his father's home, the Bell Homestead, and conducted the first long distance telephone call from Brantford to Paris, Ontario in 1876.

Brantford is also the birthplace of hockey player Wayne Gretzky, comedian Phil Hartman, as well as Group of Seven member Lawren Harris. Brantford is named after Joseph Brant, a Mohawk leader. Many of his descendants live on the neighbouring reserve of Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation.


The Attawandaron, or Neutral Nation, lived in the Grand River valley area before the 17th century; their main village and seat of the chief, Kandoucho, was identified by 19th-century historians as having been located on the Grand River where Brantford lies today. This town, like the rest of their settlements, was destroyed when the Iroquois declared war in 1650 and exterminated the Neutral nation.[3]

In 1784, Captain Joseph Brant and the Six Nations Indians left New York State for Canada. As a reward for their loyalty to the British Crown, they were given a large land grant, referred to as the Haldimand Tract, on the Grand River. The original Mohawk settlement was on the south edge of the present-day city at a location favourable for landing canoes. Brant's crossing of the river gave the original name to the area: Brant's ford. By 1847, European settlers began to settle further up the river at a ford in the Grand River and named the village Brantford. The Mohawk Chapel, part of the original Mohawk settlement, is Ontario's oldest Protestant church. Brantford was incorporated as a city in 1877.

The history of the Brantford region from 1793 to 1920 is described at length in the book At The Forks of The Grand.

Numerous works address the stories of former residents of Native American boarding schools in Western New York and Canada, such as Thomas Indian School, Mohawk Institute Residential School (also known as Mohawk Manual Labour School and Mush Hole Indian Residential School) in Brantford, Southern Ontario, Haudenosaunee boarding school, and the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania; the impact of those and similar schools on their communities; and community efforts to overcome those impacts. Examples include: the film Unseen Tears: A Documentary on Boarding School Survivors,[4] Ronald James Douglas' graduate thesis titled Documenting ethnic cleansing in North America: Creating Unseen Tears,[5] and the Legacy of Hope Foundation's online media collection: "Where are the Children? Healing the Legacy of the Residential Schools".[6]

Historic sites

Brantford's history traces its roots to the 18th century with the arrival of the Six Nations tribes from New York State, and the later arrival of Colonialists and European immigrants. A number of historic monuments have been erected within the city marking those events and Brantford's contributions to the Commonwealth's defense of the realm.

Additionally, Alexander Graham Bell's family's first home in North America was a farmhouse on Tutela Heights (named after the First Nations tribe which settled the area,[7] and later absorbed into Brantford) where Bell invented the telephone in July, 1874—although he built his first working model in Boston—and then developed early improvements to it in 1876. As part of the invention and development of the telephone, along with Canada's first telephone factory, the city earned the style of "Brantford, The Telephone City". Associated with those events in the present day are the Bell family's museum home on Tutela Heights Road, Melville House, now called the Bell Homestead National Historic Site, and the Bell Telephone Memorial (below), dedicated by the Governor General of Canada in 1917 to mark the invention of the telephone in Brantford.

Brantford generated controversy in 2010 when its city council took the controversial step of expropriating and demolishing 41 historic downtown buildings on the south side of its main street, Colborne Street. These buildings constituted one of the longest blocks of pre-Confederation architecture in Canada. Included in the list of demolitions were one of Ontario's first grocery stores and an early 1890s office of the Bell Telephone Company of Canada, now Bell Canada. This decision was highly controversial and was widely criticized by Ontario's heritage preservation community.[8][9]


Brantford's early history included the invention of the electric telephone which led to Canada's first telephone factory within the city in the 19th century. Brantford was also an important Canadian industrial centre for the first half of the 20th century, and was once the third busiest Canadian city in terms of cash-value of manufactured goods exported.

The city is at the deepest navigable point of the Grand River, and was once a railroad hub of Southern Ontario. The combination of water and rail helped Brantford develop from a farming community into a blue collar industrial city based on the agriculture implement industry centred around companies such as Massey-Harris, Verity Plow and the Cockshutt Plow Company. This industry, more than any other, provided the well-paying and steady employment that allowed Brantford to sustain economic growth through most of the 20th century.

By the 1980s and 1990s, the economy of Brantford was in steady decline as a result of the bankruptcies of White Farm Equipment, Massey-Ferguson (and its successor, Massey Combines Corporation), Koering-Waterous, Harding Carpets, and other manufacturers. The bankruptcies and closures of the businesses left thousands of people unemployed and created one of the most economically depressed areas in the country. With a recent influx of new companies moving to the area, the unemployment rate of 7.4% stands below the national rate.[10]

The completion of the Brantford to Ancaster section of Highway 403 in 1997, was intended to provide an increased incentive for business to locate in Brantford because of easy access to Hamilton and Toronto, as well as being along the quickest route through southern Ontario between Detroit and Buffalo. In 2004 Procter & Gamble and Ferrero SpA chose to locate in the city. Though Wescast Industries, Inc. recently closed their local foundry, their corporate headquarters will remain in Brantford. SC Johnson Canada has their headquarters and a manufacturing plant in Brantford, connected to the Canadian National network. On February 16, 2005, Brant, including Brantford, was added to the Greater Golden Horseshoe along with Haldimand and Northumberland counties.



Brantford had a population of 90,192 people in 2006, which was an increase of 4.4% from the 2001 census count. The median household income in 2005 for Brantford was $52,330. Based on the 2006 census, Brantford had an average property value of $200,319. The median mortgage payment was $933. The median rent for Brantford in 2006 was $700.[12]

Visible minority and Aboriginal population (Canada 2006 Census)
Population group Population  % of total population
White 79,205 89.1%
Visible minority group
South Asian 1,660 1.9%
Chinese 650 0.7%
Black 1,580 1.8%
Filipino 625 0.7%
Latin American 360 0.4%
Arab 190 0.2%
Southeast Asian 570 0.6%
West Asian 25 0%
Korean 200 0.2%
Japanese 90 0.1%
Visible minority, n.i.e. 55 0.1%
Multiple visible minority 190 0.2%
Total visible minority population 6,200 7%
Aboriginal group
First Nations 2,830 3.2%
Métis 500 0.6%
Inuit 10 0%
Aboriginal, n.i.e. 90 0.1%
Multiple Aboriginal identity 15 0%
Total Aboriginal population 3,440 3.9%
Total population 88,845 100%


Brantford is known for celebrating local cultures every July during the Brantford International Villages Festival event.


Statistics from the Federal 2006 Census indicated that 72% of Brantford's adult residents had earned either a certificate, diploma, or university degree.[12]

Universities and colleges

Several post-secondary institutions have facilities in Brantford, notably:

  • Mohawk College has a satellite campus offering programs such as Advanced Police Studies, Police Foundations and Law & Security
  • Laurier Brantford, a campus of Wilfrid Laurier University, offers undergraduate degree programs in their downtown facilities, which include Contemporary Studies, Criminology, Leadership, Journalism, and a joint program in education offered in partnership with Nipissing University.
  • Nipissing University, a joint program with Wilfrid Laurier University.

Secondary schools

Public education in the area is managed by the Grand Erie District School Board, and Catholic education is managed by the Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board.


  • The W. Ross Macdonald School for blind and deafblind students is located in Brantford.
  • The Mohawk Institute Residential School, a Canadian Indian residential school, was located in Brantford.

Political organization

The current Brantford City Council was elected in the 2010 municipal election and is headed by Mayor Chris Friel, who also previously served as mayor from 1994 to 2003. The council, in addition to Friel, includes Larry Kings and Jan Vander Stelt (Ward 1), Vince Bucci and John Utley (Ward 2), Debi Dignan-Rumble and Dan McCreary (Ward 3), Richard Carpenter and Dave Wrobel (Ward 4), and David Neumann and Marguerite Ceschi-Smith (Ward 5).[15]

At the federal and provincial levels of government, Brantford is part of the Brant riding.



The Brantford Expositor, started in 1852, is published six days per week (excluding Sundays) by Osprey Media.

The Brant News is a weekly paper (delivered Thursday) that also carries breaking news online at their website,[16] published by Metroland Media Group.

The Two Row Times a Free weekly paper, started in 2013, is published on Wednesdays, delivered to every reservation in Ontario and globally online at their website, published by Garlow Media.



Brantford's only local television service comes from Rogers TV (cable 20), a local community channel on Rogers Cable. Otherwise, Brantford is served by stations from Toronto, Hamilton and Kitchener.


Several movies have had scenes shot in Brantford, including Welcome to Mooseport and Where the Truth Lies, which were filmed at the Brantford Airport. An episode of Due South, "Dr. Long Ball", was filmed at Arnold Anderson Stadium in Cockshutt Park. A more recent filming was Weirdsville, which was filmed downtown in 2006. "Silent Hill" was filmed in the downtown in 2005. Many Brantfordians[17] observed in jest that very little work needed to be done to make downtown look decayed and haunted. Brantford's Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts was used as "The Rose" mainstage theatre of the "New Burbage Festival" in the series Slings & Arrows.[18]



Brantford Municipal Airport is located west of the city. It hosts an annual air show, featuring the Snowbirds. The John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport in Hamilton is located about 35 km east of Brantford. Toronto Pearson International Airport is located in Mississauga, about 100 km northeast of Brantford.


The train station is located just north of downtown Brantford. Via Rail has daily passenger trains on the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor. Trains travel between Windsor and Union Station in Toronto. Street rail began in Brantford in 1886 with horse-drawn carriages which by 1893 had been converted to electric. The City of Brantford took over these operations in 1914. Around 1936 buses began to replace street cars and by the end of 1939 the change over was complete. [19]


  • Brantford Transit services the city with nine regular routes operating on a half-hour schedule from the downtown Transit Terminal on Darling Street, with additional school service.
  • Greyhound Canada has intercity service to Toronto, Hamilton, London, Windsor and other cities.
  • All Around Transportation operates a Paris–Brantford shuttle bus.

Provincial highways

Entertainment and attractions

Brantford is home to the Brantford OLG Casino, and the Sanderson Centre, a venue for of musicals, concerts, and other performing arts.

The Kinsmen Club of Brantford offers entertainment throughout the year, including a weekly Bingo game which runs every Thursday evening at the Bellview Community Center in Eagle Place and Brantford Kinsmen Annual Ribfest held in August which has featured the musical artists Green River Revival (a tribute band to Creedence Clearwater Revival) and Practically Hip (tribute band of Tragically Hip).

The Ford Plant, which opened in 2002, was an independent, not-for-profit music venue that hosted all-ages concerts by many musical artists, including Arcade Fire, Wintersleep, Blue Rodeo, and more. In October 2010, the venue closed its doors for good, following its final Murdered City Music Festival.

Brantford's Canada Day Festival

Brantford hosts the region's largest Canada Day Festival each July 1. A grassroots, not-for-profit, organization was formed in the fall of 2004 after a call from the Mayor to re-establish the event when nobody was able to organize one in 2004. Since then Brantford's Canada Day Festival[20] has presented family events and Canadian Juno Award winning entertainment. A 2006 and 2009 Shining Stars Tourism Awards[21] winner and with a budget of nearly $250,000, this one day festival draws an estimated crowd of 35,000 or more people.

Past main stage headliners have included:

2005 – Jeff Healey
2005 – Lighthouse
2007 – The Trews
2008 – Theory of a Deadman
2009 – Theory of a Deadman


2011 - Kim Mitchell

2012 - Chilliwack

2013 - Aprilwine

Brantford Public Library

Brantford Public Library's central branch, located downtown on Colborne Street, offers lending services to the city's residents, free work space, and historical archives. It has an additional branch on St. Paul Avenue.[22] It has been automated since 1984.[23]

The library traces its roots to the Mechanics Institute, founded by Dr. Charles Duncombe with 100 donated books in 1835, and merged with the Zion Church Literary Society in 1866. A fire in 1870 destroyed most of the collection, but it was later relocated to the Brantford YMCA building and had a collection of 10,300 books by 1877. In 1884, after new legislation from the Ontario government, it changed its name to the Brantford Free Library, and in 1904 it moved into a new building on George Street. Following significant expansions throughout the 20th century, the library moved into a former Woolco store on Colborne Street—its present location—in 1992, changing its name to Brantford Public Library.

In 2000, the library was the first in North America to join the UNESCO model library network, and in 2002 it began a partnership with Wilfrid Laurier University. From April to October 2007, the library underwent major renovations, including the opening of a "community information commons," a space for anyone to work/study with public computers, a rear-facing entrance and a local history room.[23]

Sports teams and tournaments

Current intercounty or major teams

Defunct teams


  • The Wayne Gretzky International Hockey Tournament[24] is held in Brantford annually
  • The Walter Gretzky House League Tournament is a tournament that is held yearly
  • Swim International is held annually in November
  • The Walter Gretzky Street Hockey Tournament - Guinness World Record holder largest street hockey tournament. The street hockey tournament consisted of 205 teams totaling 2,096 players in the 2010 Walter Gretzky Street Hockey Tournament in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, from 4 to 6 June 2010. Walter Gretzky is the father of NHL legend Wayne Gretzky and still calls their hometown of Brantford home. Among participants in the tournament was film director/actor Kevin Smith, who fielded a team and played as goalie.
  • The Four Season Sports Roller Hockey Tournament, is a tournament that is held yearly.


  • Brantford hosted and won the 2008 Allan Cup, which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the event.[25]
  • The Brantford Golf & Country Club was founded in 1879. It is the fourth oldest golf club in North America. It is ranked 29th on Score Golf's "Top 100 Golf Courses in Canada" 2006 list.
  • The city served as the pre-season camp and facility for the Pittsburgh Penguins during the late 1960s, hosting the franchise's first preseason training camp and its first preseason exhibition game.[26]


Service clubs


Brantford is home to a number of churches and religious temples of various faiths, including a mosque and a Sikh temple. Its estimated there are over 35 churches in the city, including Anglican, Baptist, Roman Catholic, Ukrainian Catholic, Pentecostal, Salvation Army, Presbyterian, United, Christadelphian, and Mormon. Brantford is also home to the national headquarters of the Congregational Christian Churches in Canada.[27]

Municipal twinning

Brantford is twinned with:

See also


External links

  • City of Brantford
  • Brantford Heritage Inventory
  • Brant Museum and Archives
  • Brantford Public Library
  • Laurier Brantford
  • Kinsmen Club of Brantford
  • The Brantford Expositor
  • Canadian Industrial Heritage Centre
  • The Brantford Album
  • Brantford "The Telephone City"
  • Views of Brantford, Canada
  • Remember: Brantford 1877-1977
  • Album of Honour for Brant County
  • Brantford & Area Sports Hall of Recognition
  • The Sanderson Centre
  • Four Season Sports Roller Hockey League
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