Brantford (2016 population 97,496; CMA population 134,203) is a city in southwestern Ontario, Canada, founded on the Grand River. It is the seat of Brant County, but it is politically separate with a government independent of the county.
Brantford is sometimes known as the "Telephone City": former city resident Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone at his father's home, the Bell Homestead. In 1876 he conducted the first long-distance telephone call, making it from Brantford to Paris, Ontario.
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, an important Mohawk chief during the American Revolutionary War and later, who led his people in their first decades in Upper Canada. Many of his and other First Nations citizens live on the neighbouring reserve of Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation, the most populous reserve in Canada.
The Iroquoian-speaking Attawandaron, known in English as the 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 present-day Brantford developed. This town, like the rest of their settlements, was destroyed when the Iroquois declared war in 1650 over the fur trade and exterminated the Neutral nation.
In 1784, Captain Joseph Brant and the Six Nations Indians of the Iroquois Confederacy 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 their village Brantford. The Mohawk Chapel, built in 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.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, both the United States and Canadian governments encouraged education of First Nations children at Indian boarding schools, which were intended to teach them English and European-American ways and assimilate them to the majority cultures. These institutions in Western New York and Canada included the 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. Decades later and particularly since the late 20th century, numerous scholarly and artistic works have explored the detrimental effects of the schools in destroying Native cultures. Examples include: the film Unseen Tears: A Documentary on Boarding School Survivors, Ronald James Douglas' graduate thesis titled Documenting Ethnic Cleansing in North America: Creating Unseen Tears, and the Legacy of Hope Foundation's online media collection: "Where are the Children? Healing the Legacy of the Residential Schools".
Brantford's First Nations and European-Canadian development began in the 18th century with the arrival of the Six Nations tribes from New York State, and the later arrival of colonists 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.
Her Majesty's Royal Chapel of the Mohawks is located in Brantford and is an important reminder of the original agreements made with Queen Anne in 1710. After the American Revolution, in 1784, Sir Frederick Haldimond granted the Six Nations their land treaty which was six miles on each side of the river from the mouth to the source. Joseph Brant led a group of Six Nations members to new settlement called the Mohawk Village. The Mohawk Chapel was built in 1785 as a reminder of the original agreements made with the British. In 1904 the Mohawk Chapel received Royal status for the longstanding alliance between the British and Six Nations. Her Majesty's Royal Chapel of the Mohawks is still in use today as one of two royal Chapels in Canada and the oldest Protestant Church in Ontario
Among the Anglo-Canadian residents were Alexander Graham Bell and his family, whose first residence in North America was a farmhouse on Tutela Heights (named after the First Nations tribe which settled the area and later absorbed into Brantford.) Bell invented the telephone here in July 1874, later building his first working model in Boston. He developed early improvements to it in 1876.
As part of the invention and development of the telephone, Canada's first telephone factory was built here, and the city was called "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.
The electric telephone was invented here, leading to the establishment of Canada's first telephone factory here in the 1870s. Brantford developed as an important Canadian industrial centre for the first half of the 20th century, and it was once the third-ranked Canadian city in terms of cash-value of manufactured goods exported.
The city developed at the deepest navigable point of the Grand River. Because of existing networks, it became a railroad hub of Southern Ontario. The combination of water and rail helped Brantford develop from a farming community into an industrial city with many blue-collar jobs, based on the agriculture implement industry. Major companies included S.C. Johnson Wax, 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 due to changes in heavy industry and its restructuring. Numerous companies suffered bankruptcies, such as 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. It took a long time for the economy to recover and rebuild in new directions. In the early 21st century, an influx of new companies moving to the area has brought the unemployment rate down to 7.4%, which is below the national rate.
The Brantford-to-Ancaster section of Highway 403 was completed in 1997, in part to create an increased incentive for businesses to locate in Brantford because of easy access to Hamilton and Toronto. This was 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.
In December 2016, Brantford's unemployment rate stood at 4.7% – the 2nd lowest in Ontario.
Brantford's 2011 population was 93,650 people according to the 2011 census.
Brantford has been used as a filming location for TV and films.The television series Murdoch Mysteries has used the Carnegie Building, now part of Wilfrid Laurier University’s Brantford campus, as the courthouse. The interior of the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts has also been featured in the series. In addition, Victoria Park and many of the older homes along Dalhousie and George streets have been used for shot locations.
Several movies have had scenes shot at the Brantford Airport, including Welcome to Mooseport and Where the Truth Lies. Many Mayday episodes have also been filmed there.
An episode of Due South, "Dr. Long Ball", was filmed at Arnold Anderson Stadium in Cockshutt Park.
Brantford's downtown provided locations for Weirdsville in 2006 and "Silent Hill" in 2005. Many Brantfordians observed that little work had 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.
Statistics from the Federal 2006 Census indicated that 72% of Brantford's adult residents had earned either a certificate, diploma, or university degree.
Several post-secondary institutions have facilities in Brantford.Laurier Brantford, a campus of Wilfrid Laurier University, offers a variety of programs at their downtown campus. The 2013-14 enrollment is 2,800 full-time students.
The Faculty of Liberal Arts includes Contemporary Studies, Journalism, History, English, Youth and Children’s Studies, Human Rights and Human Diversity, Languages at Brantford and Law and Society programs. The Faculty of Human and Social Sciences includes Criminology, Health Studies, Psychology and Leadership.
The Faculty of Social Work includes the Bachelor of Social Work.
The Faculty of Graduate and Post-Doctoral Studies includes Social Justice and Community Engagement (MA) and Criminology (MA)
The School of Business and Economics includes Business Technology Management.
Nipissing University, in partnership with Laurier Brantford, offers the Concurrent Education program in Brantford. In five years, students achieve an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Society, Culture & Environment from Laurier Brantford, and a Bachelor of Education from Nipissing University. During the 2013-14 academic year there were 70 full-time and 100 part-time students in the program.
Conestoga College offer academic programming in Brantford’s downtown core in partnership with Wilfrid Laurier University and its Laurier Brantford campus. Conestoga College offer diplomas in Business and Health Office Administration, a graduate certificate in Human Resources Management and a certificate in Medical Office Practice in Brantford. This program has 120 full-time students in the 2013-14 academic year.
Mohawk College, had a satellite campus offering programs; however, the college ceased operations in Brantford at the end of the 2013-14 academic year.
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.Assumption College School (Catholic)
Brantford Collegiate Institute
North Park Collegiate & Vocational School
Pauline Johnson Collegiate & Vocational School
St. John's College (Catholic)
Tollgate Technological Skills Centre (formerly known as Herman E. Fawcett)
Grand Erie Learning Alternatives (GELA)
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 and the Conseil Scolaire de District Catholique Centre-Sud.Christ The King School (Catholic)
St. Peter School (Catholic)
Holy Cross School (Catholic)
St. Basil Catholic Elementary School (Catholic)
Jean Vanier Catholic Elementary School (Catholic)
Notre Dame Catholic Elementary School (Catholic)
St. Pius X Catholic Elementary School (Catholic)
St. Gabriel Catholic Elementary School (Catholic)
Our Lady of Providence Catholic Elementary School (Catholic)
Resurrection School (Catholic)
St. Leo School (Catholic)
St. Patrick School (Catholic)
Russell Reid Elementary School
Echo Place School
Cedarland Public School
Centennial-Grand Woodlands School
École Confederation (French Immersion)
Dufferin Public School (French Immersion)
Walter Gretzky Elementary School
Mount Pleasant Public School
Ryerson Heights Elementary School
Graham Bell-Victoria Public School
Lansdowne-Costain Public School
Major Ballachey Public School
Agnes G. Hodge Public School
Prince Charles Public School
Greenbrier Public School
James Hillier Public School
Grandview Public School
Banbury Heights School
King George School
Brier Park School
Princess Elizabeth Public School
Bellview Public School
St. Marguerite Bourgeois (French)
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. It was closed after emphasis on educating children in their home communities and encouraging their own cultures, in part because of reporting of abuses at such facilities.
Victoria Academy is a private secondary school in Brantford.
Braemar House School is a private elementary school in Brantford offering diverse Montessori and Elementary School curriculum.
Brantford is located within the County of Brant; however, it is a single-tier municipality, politically separate from the County. Ontario's Municipal Act, 2001 defines single-tier municipalities as "a municipality, other than an upper-tier municipality, that does not form part of an upper-tier municipality for municipal purposes". Single-tier municipalities provide for all local government services.
At the federal and provincial levels of government, Brantford is part of the Brant riding.
The current Brantford City Council was elected in the 2014 municipal election and is headed by Mayor Chris Friel, who had previously served as mayor from 1994 to 2003 and was re-elected in 2010. The council, in addition to Friel, includes Larry Kings and Rick Weaver (Ward 1), John Sless and John Utley (Ward 2), Greg Martin and Dan McCreary (Ward 3), Richard Carpenter and Cheryl Antoski (Ward 4), and David Neumann and Brian Van Tilborg (Ward 5).
The Brantford Expositor, started in 1852, is published six days per week (excluding Sundays) by Sun Media Corp.
The Brant News is a weekly paper (delivered Thursday); it publishes breaking news online at their website, and is 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.
BScene, a Free community paper founded in 2014, is published monthly and distributed locally throughout Brantford and Brant County via local businesses and community centers, It can also be viewed online at their website. Independently published.AM 1380 - CKPC (AM), oldies
FM 92.1 - CKPC-FM, adult contemporary
FM 93.9 - CFWC-FM, religious
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.
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 also stop at Union Station in Toronto.
Street rail began in Brantford in 1886 with horse-drawn carriages; by 1893 this system had been converted to electric. The City of Brantford took over these operations in 1914. Around 1936 it began to replace the electric street car system with gas-run buses, and by the end of 1939 the change-over was complete.Brantford Transit serves 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.
GO bus service between downtown Brantford and Aldershot GO Station in Burlington, stopping at McMaster University.
All Around Transportation operates a Paris–Brantford shuttle bus.
Highway 403, East Hamilton, West Woodstock.
Highway 24, North Cambridge, South Simcoe.
Local museums include the Bell Homestead, Brant Museum and Archives, Canadian Military Heritage Museum and the Personal Computer Museum.
Annual events include the "Brantford International Villages Festival" in July; the "Brantford Kinsmen Annual Ribfest" in August; the "Chili Willy Cook-Off" in February; the "Frosty Fest", a Church festival held in winter;
Brantford is the home of several community theatre groups including Stage 88, ICHTHYS Theatre, Brantford Theatre Workshops and Whimsical Players.
Brantford has a casino, Brantford OLG Casino. The Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts is a local performance venue.
Brantford Public Library's central branch is located downtown on Colborne Street. It has an additional branch on St. Paul Avenue. It has been automated since 1984. In 2000, the library was the first in North America to join the UNESCO model library network.Brantford Red Sox of the Intercounty Baseball League who play at Arnold Anderson Stadium
Brantford Braves of the Junior Intercounty Baseball League who also play at Arnold Anderson Stadium
Brantford Blast of the Allan Cup Hockey League who play at the Brantford Civic Centre
Brantford Galaxy SC of the Canadian Soccer League who play at Lion's Park.
Brantford Harlequins of the Ontario Rugby Union
Brantford 99'ers of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League
Brantford Alexanders (1976 to 1978), a former team of the Senior Ontario Hockey Association who played at the Brantford Civic Centre. Won 1978 Allan Cup.
Brantford Motts Clamatos. Won 1987 Allan Cup.
Brantford Golden Eagles of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, moved in 2012 to become Caledonia Corvairs.
Brantford Alexanders (1978 to 1984), a former team of the Ontario Hockey League who played at the Brantford Civic Centre. They are now the Erie Otters.
Brantford Smoke (1991–1998) of the CoHL, Colonial Hockey League who played at the Brantford Civic Centre. The team moved to Asheville in 1998.
Brantford Blaze of the Canadian National Basketball League, played only a few exhibition games in 2003-04.
The Wayne Gretzky International Hockey Tournament, which celebrated its 9th anniversary in 2015, is held in Brantford annually
Brantford hosted and won the 2008 Allan Cup, which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the event.
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.
The Walter Gretzky Street Hockey Tournament, celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2016, is held in Brantford annually. In 2010, this “great” tournament was recognized and established a Guinness World Record for the largest Street Hockey Tournament in the world with 205 teams with just over 2,096 participants.
Brantford is twinned with: