Essex is a town with a population of 19,600 in Essex County in southwestern Ontario, Canada, whose municipal borders extend to Lake Erie. Essex is also the name of the largest community within the municipality. The present mayor is Ron McDermott. It is the county seat for Essex County.
The town comprises the communities of Ambassador Beach, Barretville, Belcreft Beach, Colchester, Edgars, Essex Centre, Gesto, Harrow, Klie's Beach, Leslies Corner, Levergood Beach, Lypps Beach, Marshfield, McGregor, New Canaan, Oxley, Paquette Corners, Seymour Beach and Vereker.
The current Town of Essex was created on 1 April 1999 through the amalgamation of the former towns of Essex and Harrow, along with the former townships of Colchester North and Colchester South. Each community has a distinct history prior to amalgamation. Colchester South is notable for lying further south than the northern border of California.
The Talbot Trail was heavily attributed with causing Essex to grow significantly in the last half of the 19th century. The community achieved town status in 1890.
On August 10, 1907, at the Essex Station, which is the train station located in the town of Essex, Ontario there was a large explosion that sent shockwaves across the county and even into some parts of nearby Michigan. The explosion took place at roughly 9:50 am when a train cart containing 5000 pounds of nitro-glycerine ignited causing a massive explosion to take place. This explosion had vast effects on the immediate area as well as the surrounding outskirts of town. The blast sent debris up to and over 600 yards away and killed two people in the process, and injured many more. The result could have been much more severe as a train of vacationers from Brantford on their way to Detroit was scheduled to arrive in the station seconds before the explosion but was luckily running late, this delay saved the lives of many travellers. The boom of the explosion caused plaster to fall from the ceilings of buildings in Windsor and windows to rattle as far as Detroit. The explosion also caused over 250 000 dollars worth of property damage to the immediate area surrounding the blast zone. The reason for the explosion was leaking packaging of nitro-glycerine on one of the train carts in the station at the time that eventually dripped onto the track and when a spark was created the whole cart ignited into a giant explosion. The crater left by the explosion was 20 feet across and 10 to 12 feet deep in the center. Families all around town found their yards and in some cases even their bedrooms littered with debris that was hurled from this earth trembling event. The results of this event were many. People began to flock to Essex from all over the county to see the devastation that was left behind, and due to the type of transportation available at the time these visitors often could not make the return trip in the same day. This posed a serious problem for the accommodations available in the town as they could not keep up with these visitors and rooms were booked solid and food sources were being used up quicker than they could be replenished. Another result of this would be the need to rebuild, the Essex Station was one building very heavily damaged along with many other properties in the surrounding area and the money needed to do so would not be easy to acquire. In an investigation to see who would be responsible for the explosion and subsequently the deaths of the two men, it was deemed that the nitro-glycerine was improperly cured, however the railway was held responsible for the improper handling of the explosive cargo. The company would be fined 125 000 dollars for their irresponsible actions and this sum would go toward the expenses of rebuilding the areas of town that were affected. This process of rebuilding would take more than two years before all of the buildings would be completely rebuilt. The town of Essex would feel the lasting effects of this explosion for years to come.
Years later in 1980 the town would face the difficulty of another devastating explosion. This one would be the result of a natural gas line being struck by a truck setting this combustible material into flames. This explosion would reap considerable damage on the town and miraculously no one died. This explosion would have smaller effects on the town of Essex, but it would remind people of the scare that their ancestors had experienced in the early part of the century. For a small town, the experience of these two separate large explosions would leave there mark for years to come. The Essex Station that was hit in the first explosion was rebuilt to its previous form and remains a recognizable landmark in the town today. It is often visited by tourist due to its rich and historical past. The town has even had the station put on display in one of its famous outdoor murals that are scattered all over town. This landmark will forever be a symbol of the towns dangerous and explosive past and the rich history of it will be passed on for generations. Essex is lucky that these two explosions only claimed the lives of two people as they posed the potential to do far more than that.
Essex is divided into four wards which correspond to the four major communities involved in the 1999 amalgamation. During municipal elections, residents vote for a mayor and councillor(s) in their geographical ward. The members of each council elect a deputy-mayor from their own ranks after each municipal election.Ward 1 - Essex Centre (2 councillors)
Ward 2 - Colchester North (1 councillor)
Ward 3 - Colchester South (2 councillors)
Ward 4 - Harrow Centre (1 councillor)
Current town council:Mayor - Ron McDermott
Deputy Mayor - Richard Meloche (Ward 2)
Ward 1 Councillor - Randy Voakes
Ward 1 Councillor - Steve Bjorkman
Ward 3 Councillor - Bill Caixeiro
Ward 3 Councillor - Larry Snively
Ward 4 Councillor - Sherry Bondy
According to the Canada 2011 Census:Population: 19,600
% Change (2006–2011): -2.2%
Area (km².): 277.92
Density (persons per km².): 70.5
The town of Essex is the home of the most successful Junior C franchise in the province, the Essex 73's. The club has won a record 19 Great Lakes Hockey League titles along with an Ontario record 6 provincial titles. The club played 36 seasons in the historic Essex Memorial Arena and now play in the new Essex Centre Sports Complex. Essex has two minor hockey associations: The Essex Minor Hockey Association based in Essex Centre and the Harrow-Colchester South Minor Hockey Association based in Harrow. The Sun County Panthers AAA teams play out of the Essex Centre Sports Complex.
The Essex Ravens football club play in the Ontario Varsity Football League and play their games at Raider Field at Essex District High School. They have won several provincial championships.
The Essex Energizers are a competitive jump rope team based in the Town of Essex. The Essex Energizers compete at the provincial, national and international levels in the sport of jump rope. Members of the team earned a bronze medal in team show in the 2004 World Championships and Cameron MacQuarrie earned 6th place overall individually in Brisbane, Australia. The Essex Energizers are consistently one of Canada's top teams and in addition to competitions they have demonstrated at venues such as Disney World, NFL halftime shows, NBA halftime shows and Parliament Hill.
Essex has two major annual festivals. The Essex Fun Fest runs in the second week of July and the Harrow Fair occurs each labour day weekend. The Harrow Fair is the oldest community fair in Ontario.
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.
Two public secondary schools of the Greater Essex County District School Board are situated in Essex. Essex District High School serves Essex Centre, Colchester North and areas of Tecumseh, Lakeshore, and Kingsville. Harrow District High School serves Harrow Centre and Colchester South. Public school students from certain areas of Essex may attend General Amherst High School in Amherstburg or Kingsville District High School in Kingsville. While there is no separate secondary school within the boundaries of Essex, students in the town may attend the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board's St. Thomas of Villanova Catholic High School in LaSalle or Cardinal Carter Catholic High School in Leamington.
Elementary schools of the Greater Essex County District School Board include Essex Public School, Colchester North Public School, and Harrow Senior Public School. Separate elementary schools of the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board include Holy Name Catholic Elementary School and St. Anthony Catholic Elementary School.
Essex is known regionwide for its large crow population. It is speculated that the town was founded adjacent to a massive crow rookery that, despite efforts to destroy or relocate the nesting ground, thrives to this day. Strangely, the crows boundaries seem tightly closed around the town; though the birds will occasionally venture into surrounding areas.