Prior to European exploration and settlement, the Windsor area was inhabited by the First Nations and Native Americans. A French agricultural settlement was established at the site of Windsor in 1749. It is the oldest continually inhabited European-founded settlement in Canada west of Montreal. The area was first named la Petite Côte ("Little Coast" – as opposed to the longer coastline on the Detroit side of the river). Later it was called La Côte de Misère ("Poverty Coast") because of the sandy soils near LaSalle.
Windsor's French-Canadian heritage is reflected in French street names such as Ouellette, Pelissier, François, Pierre, Langlois, Marentette, and Lauzon. The current street system (a grid with elongated blocks) reflects the Canadien method of agricultural land division, where the farms were long and narrow, fronting along the river. Today, the north–south street name often indicates the name of the family that once farmed the land where the street is now located. The street system of outlying areas is consistent with the British system for granting land concessions. There is a significant French-speaking minority in Windsor and the surrounding area, particularly in the Lakeshore, Tecumseh and LaSalle areas.
In 1794, after the American Revolution, the settlement of "Sandwich" was founded. It was later renamed Windsor, after the town in Berkshire, England. The Sandwich neighbourhood on Windsor's west side is home to some of the city's oldest buildings, including Mackenzie Hall, originally built as the Essex County Courthouse in 1855. Today, this building is a community centre. The oldest building in the city is the Duff-Baby House built in 1792. It is owned by Ontario Heritage Trust and houses government offices. The François Baby House in downtown Windsor was built in 1812 and houses Windsor's Community Museum, dedicated to local history.
Windsor was the site of a battle during the Upper Canada Rebellion in 1838. It was attacked by a band of 400 Americans and rebels from Detroit one of the steam boats and a few houses. The local militia routed them. Windsor also served as a theatre for the Patriot War, later that year.
In 1846, Windsor had a population of about 300. Two steam boats offered service to Detroit. The barracks were still manned. There were various types of tradesmen, a bank agency and a post office.
Windsor was incorporated as a village in 1854 (the same year the village was connected to the rest of Canada by the Grand Trunk Railway/Canadian National Railway), then became a town in 1858, and gained city status in 1892.
The Windsor Police Service was established on July 1, 1867.
A fire consumed much of Windsor's downtown core on October 12, 1871, destroying over 100 buildings.
Sandwich, Ford City and Walkerville were separate legal entities (towns) until 1935. They are now historic neighbourhoods of Windsor. Ford City was incorporated as a village in 1912; it became a town in 1915, and a city in 1929. Walkerville was incorporated as a town in 1890. Sandwich was established in 1817 as a town with no municipal status. It was incorporated as a town in 1858 (the same year as neighbouring Windsor).
These three towns were annexed by Windsor in 1935. The nearby villages of Ojibway and Riverside were incorporated in 1913 and 1921 respectively. Both were annexed by Windsor in 1966. During the 1920s alcohol prohibition was enforced in Michigan while alcohol was legal in Ontario. Rum-running in Windsor was a common practice during that time.
On October 25, 1960, a massive gas explosion destroyed the building housing the Metropolitan Store on Ouellette Avenue. Ten people were killed and at least one hundred injured. The 45th anniversary of the event was commemorated by the Windsor Star on October 25, 2005. It was featured on History Television's Disasters of the Century.
The Windsor Star Centennial Edition in 1992 covered the city's past, its success as a railway centre, and its contributions to World War I and World War II fighting efforts. It also recalled the naming controversy in 1892 when Windsor aimed to become a city. The most popular names listed in the naming controversy were "South Detroit", "The Ferry" (from the ferries that linked Windsor to Detroit), Windsor, and Richmond (the runner-up in popularity). Windsor was chosen to promote the heritage of new English settlers in the city and to recognize Windsor Castle in Berkshire, England. However, Richmond was a popular name used until the Second World War, mainly by the local post office.
Windsor has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfa) with four distinct seasons. The mean annual temperature is 9.9 °C (50 °F), among the warmest in Canada primarily due to its hot summers. Some locations in coastal and lower mainland British Columbia have a slightly higher mean annual temperature due to milder winter conditions there. The coldest month is January and the warmest month is July. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Windsor was −32.8 °C (−27.0 °F) on January 29, 1873 and the warmest was 40.2 °C (104.4 °F) on June 25, 1988.
Summers are hot and humid, with a July mean temperature of 23.0 °C (73 °F) although the humidex reaches 30 or above 70 times in an average summer. Thunderstorms are common during summer and occur on average 32 days per year. Winters are generally mild with occasional cold periods. The mean temperature in January is −3 °C (27 °F). Windsor is not located in the traditional lake-effect snowbelts but does occasionally see lake-effect snow that originates over Lake Michigan. Snow cover is intermittent throughout the winter; on average there are 53 days each year with snow on the ground. There are typically three to five major snowfalls each winter. Windsor has the highest number of days per year with lightning, haze, and daily maximum temperatures over 30 °C (86 °F) of cities in Canada. Windsor is also home to eastern Canada's warmest fall, with the highest mean temperatures for the months of September, October and November. Precipitation is generally well-distributed throughout the year. There are on average 2,261 sunshine hours per year in Windsor.
As the Canadian city with the highest number of days including severe thunderstorms and lightning, Windsor has historically been subject to tornadic activity. The strongest and deadliest tornado to touch down in Windsor was an F4 in 1946. Windsor was the only Canadian city to experience a tornado during the 1974 Super Outbreak, an F3 which killed nine people when it destroyed the Windsor Curling Club. The city was grazed by the 1997 Southeast Michigan tornado outbreak with one tornado (an F1) forming east of the city. Tornadoes have been recorded crossing the Detroit River (in 1946 and 1997), and waterspouts are regularly seen over Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie especially in autumn.
On April 25, 2009, an F0 tornado briefly touched down in the eastern part of the city, causing minor damage to nearby buildings, most notably a CUPE union hall.
Two tornadoes (one F1 and one F2) touched down in the evening of August 24, 2016, causing damage in parts of Windsor as well as Lasalle.
Respiratory illnesses that are associated with pollution are more prevalent here than elsewhere in Canada as Windsor is downwind from several strong polluters, notably coal-burning power plants in the United States.
The Weather Network has designated Windsor as "the smog capital of Canada." Windsor's Citizens Environment Alliance holds a yearly art event entitled Smogfest to raise awareness of air quality issues.
A 2001 article in Environmental Health Perspectives stated that the rates of mortality, morbidity as hospitalizations, and congenital anomalies in the Windsor Area of Concern ranked among the highest of the 17 Areas of Concern on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes for selected end points that might be related to pollution.
Ouellette Avenue is the historic main commercial street in downtown Windsor. It runs north–south, perpendicular to the Detroit River, and divides the city into east and west sections. Roads that cross Ouellette Avenue include the directional components East and West after their names. Address numbers on east–west roads in Windsor increase by 100 for each block travelled away from Ouellette Avenue and address numbers on north–south roads increase by 100 for each block travelled away from the Detroit River. In areas where the river curves, some numbers on north–south roads are skipped. For consistency across the city, all address numbers on north–south roads reset at either 600, for streets west of Walker road, or 800 for those to the east, where the road crosses Wyandotte Street (which roughly parallels the Detroit River).
Windsor's Department of Parks and Recreation maintains 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres) of green space, 180 parks, 64 km (40 mi) of trails, 35 km (22 mi) of sidewalk, 60 parking lots, vacant lands, natural areas and forest cover within the city of Windsor. The largest park is Mic Mac Park, which can accommodate many different activities including baseball, soccer, biking, and sledding. Windsor has numerous bike trails, the largest being the Ganatchio Trail on the far east side of the city. In recent years, city council has pushed for the addition of bicycle lanes on city streets to provide links throughout the existing trail network.
The Windsor trail network is linked to the LaSalle Trail in the west end, and is to eventually be linked to the Chrysler Canada Greenway (part of the Trans Canada Trail). The current greenway is a 42 km (26 mi) former railway corridor that has been converted into a multi-use recreational trail, underground utility corridor and natural green space. The corridor begins south of Oldcastle and continues south through McGregor, Harrow, Kingsville, and Ruthven. The Greenway is a fine trail for hiking, biking, running, birding, cross country skiing and in some areas, horseback riding. It connects natural areas, rich agricultural lands, historically and architecturally significant structures, and award-winning wineries. A separate 5 km (3.1 mi) landscaped traverses the riverfront between downtown and the Ambassador Bridge. Part of this trail winds through Windsor Sculpture Park displaying various modern and post-modern sculptures. Families of elephants (see picture), penguins, horses, and many other themed sculptures are found in the park.
Windsor's economy is primarily based on manufacturing, tourism, education, and government services.
The city is one of Canada's major automobile manufacturing centres and is home to the headquarters of FCA Canada. Automotive facilities include the FCA Canada minivan assembly plant, two Ford Motor Company engine plants, and several tool and die and automotive parts manufacturers.
Windsor has a well-established tourism industry. Caesars Windsor, one of the largest casinos in Canada, ranks as one of the largest local employers. It has been a major draw for U.S. visitors since opening in 1994 (as Casino Windsor). Further, the 1,150 km (710 mi) Quebec City – Windsor Corridor contains 18 million people, with 51% of the Canadian population and three out of the five largest metropolitan areas, according to the 2011 Census.
The city has an extensive riverfront parks system and fine restaurants, such as those on Erie Street in Windsor's Little Italy called "Via Italia", another popular tourist destination. The Lake Erie North Shore Wine Region in Essex County has enhanced tourism in the region.
Both the University of Windsor and St. Clair College are significant local employers and have enjoyed substantial growth and expansion in recent years. The recent addition of a full-program satellite medical school of the University of Western Ontario, which opened in 2008 at the University of Windsor is further enhancing the region's economy and the status of the university. In 2013, the university completed construction of a $112 million facility for its Faculty of Engineering.
Windsor is the headquarters of Hiram Walker & Sons Limited, now owned by Pernod Ricard. Its historic distillery was founded by Hiram Walker in 1858 in what was then Walkerville, Ontario.
The diversifying economy is also represented by companies involved in pharmaceuticals, alternative energy, insurance, internet and software. Windsor is also home to the Windsor Salt Mine and the Great Lakes Regional office of the International Joint Commission.
In 2011, the population of Windsor was 210,891 and that of the Windsor metropolitan area (consisting of Windsor, Tecumseh, Amherstburg, LaSalle and Lakeshore) was 319,246. This represents a decrease of 2.6% in the city population since 2006 and 1.3% in the metropolitan area population since 2006. During the same period, Ontario grew by 5.7% and Canada by 5.9%. However, in 2016, population rebounds up 3.0% to 217,188 because of Toronto's sizzling housing market.
Windsor attracts many immigrants from around the world. Over 20% of the population is foreign-born; this is the fourth-highest proportion for a Canadian city. Visible minorities make up 21.0% of the population, making it the most diverse city in Ontario outside of the Greater Toronto Area.
From the 2001 Canadian census, Windsor's population was 48.9% male and 51.1% female. Children under five accounted for 6.3% of the city population compared to 5.6% for Canada. Persons of retirement age (65 years and over) accounted for 14.1% of the population in Windsor compared to 13.0% for Canada. The median age in Windsor is 36.0 years compared to 37.6 years for Canada.
The population of Windsor is chiefly English-speaking. In 2009, native speakers of French made up 3.7% of the population.
Windsor has a low violent crime rate and one of the lowest murder rates in Canada. In 2011, the crime severity index for the Windsor Metropolitan Area was 62.5, compared to the Canadian national rate of 77.6. Of the 5 safest communities in Canada, 4 of them are located in the Windsor Metropolitan Area (Amherstburg, LaSalle, Tecumseh, and Lakeshore). Windsor has made national headlines for its lack of homicides. There were no homicides in the city for a 27-month period ending in November 2011.
Windsor's history as an industrial centre has given the New Democrats a dedicated voting base. During federal and provincial elections, Windsorites have maintained its local representation in the respective legislatures. The Liberal Party of Canada also has a strong electoral history in the city. Canada's 21st Prime Minister Paul Martin was born in Windsor. His father Paul Martin (Sr.), a federal cabinet minister in several portfolios through the Liberal governments of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, was first elected to the House of Commons from a Windsor riding in the 1930s. Martin (Sr.) practiced law in the city and the federal building on Ouellette Avenue is named after him. Eugene Whelan was a Liberal cabinet minister and one-time Liberal party leadership candidate elected from Essex County from the 1960s to the early 1980s, as well as Mark MacGuigan of Windsor-Walkerville riding, who also served as External Affairs, and later Justice minister in the early 1980s. Deputy Prime Minister Herb Gray represented Windsor as an MP from 1962 through 2003, winning thirteen consecutive elections making him the longest serving MP in Canadian history. A bust of Herb Gray is located at the foot of Ouellette Avenue near Dieppe Park in downtown Windsor. Plans are to name the Windsor-Essex Parkway after him.
The current mayor of Windsor is Drew Dilkens. Windsor is governed under the Council-Manager form of local government and includes the elected City Council, mayor, and an appointed Chief Administrative Officer. The city is divided into ten wards, with one councillor representing each ward. The mayor serves as the chief executive officer of the city and functions as its ceremonial head. Day-to-day operations of the government are carried out by the Chief Administrative Officer. In August 2009, Windsor City Council approved a 10-ward electoral system for the 2010 civic election. Under the new plan, voters will elect one councillor in each of the ten new wards. The new election map will double the number of wards that have existed along unchanged boundaries for 30 years.
At the provincial and federal levels, Windsor is divided into two ridings: Windsor West and Windsor—Tecumseh. The city is currently represented in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario by NDP MPPs: Lisa Gretzky (Windsor West), and Percy Hatfield (Windsor—Tecumseh).
Federally, Windsor has two constituencies, Windsor West and Windsor Tecumseh. Both ridings are currently represented in the federal Parliament by New Democratic Party MPs: Brian Masse (Windsor West) and Cheryl Hardcastle (Windsor—Tecumseh).
Windsor tourist attractions include Caesars Windsor, a lively downtown club scene, Little Italy, the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, the Art Gallery of Windsor, the Odette Sculpture Park, Adventure Bay Water Park, and Ojibway Park. As a border settlement, Windsor was a site of conflict during the War of 1812, a major entry point into Canada for refugees from slavery via the Underground Railroad and a major source of liquor during American Prohibition. Two sites in Windsor have been designated as National Historic Sites of Canada: the Sandwich First Baptist Church, a church established by Underground Railroad refugees, and François Bâby House, an important War of 1812 site now serving as Windsor's Community Museum.
The Capitol Theatre in downtown Windsor had been a venue for feature films, plays and other attractions since 1929, until it declared bankruptcy in 2007. Today, the theatre remains open.
The Tea Party is an internationally famous progressive rock band which has been based in Windsor since its foundation in 1990.
Windsor's nickname is the "Rose City" or the "City of Roses". The Liebeszauber (Love's Magic) rose has been designated as the City of Windsor Rose. Windsor is noted for the several large parks and gardens found on its waterfront. The Queen Elizabeth II Sunken Garden is located at Jackson Park in the central part of the city. A World War II era Avro Lancaster was displayed on a stand in the middle of Jackson Park for over four decades but has since been removed for restoration. This park is now home to a mounted Spitfire replica and a Hurricane replica.
Of the parks lining Windsor's waterfront, the largest is the 5 km (3.1 mi) stretch overlooking the Detroit skyline. It extends from the Ambassador Bridge to the Hiram Walker Distillery. The western portion of the park contains the Windsor Sculpture Park which features over 30 large-scale contemporary sculptures for public viewing, along with the Canadian Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The central portion contains Dieppe Gardens, Civic Terrace and Festival Plaza, and the eastern portion is home to the Bert Weeks Memorial Gardens. Further east along the waterfront is Coventry Gardens, across from Detroit's Belle Isle. The focal point of this park is the Charles Brooks Memorial Peace Fountain which floats in the Detroit River and has a coloured light display at night. The fountain is the largest of its kind in North America and symbolizes the peaceful relationship between Canada and the United States.
Each summer, Windsor co-hosts the two-week-long Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival, which culminates in a gigantic fireworks display that celebrates Canada Day and the Fourth of July. The fireworks display is among the world's largest and is held on the final Monday in June over the Detroit River between the two downtowns. Each year, the event attracts over a million spectators to both sides of the riverfront. Windsor and Detroit also jointly cohost the annual Detroit Windsor International Film Festival, while festivals exclusive to Windsor include Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County Carrousel by the River and Carrousel Around the City, Bluesfest International Windsor and Windsor Pride.
Following the 2008 Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Detroit, Michigan, Windsor successfully put in a bid to become the first Canadian city to host the event. Red Bull touted the 2009 race in Windsor as one of the most exciting in the seven-year history of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, and on January 22, 2010, it was announced that Windsor will be a host city for the 2010 and 2011 circuits, along with a select group of major international cities that includes Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Perth, Australia and New York City. The event attracted 200,000 fans to the Detroit River waterfront in 2009. The Red Bull air races were cancelled worldwide for 2011.
Dubbed the Great Canadian Flag Project, Windsor is erecting a 150-foot (45.7 metre) flagpole to fly a 60 feet by 30 feet (18 metres by nine metres) Canadian flag in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Canada. Spotlights will illuminate the flag at night, with a smaller 24 feet by 12 feet (7.3 metres by 3.7 metres) flag to fly during periods of strong winds. As of January 14, 2017, $300,000 had been raised for the project, including $150,000 from the federal government.
Windsor has often been the place where many metro Detroiters find what is forbidden in the United States. With a minimum legal drinking age of 21 in Michigan and 19 in Ontario, a number of 19 and 20-year-old Americans frequent Windsor's bars. The city also became a gambling attraction with Caesars Windsor's opening in 1994, five years before casinos opened in Detroit. One can also purchase Cuban cigars, Cuban rum, less-costly prescription drugs, absinthe, certain imported foods, and other items not available in the United States. In addition, some same-sex couples from the United States chose to marry in Windsor prior to 2015, when same-sex marriage was legalized in all 50 U.S. states.
Windsor and its surrounding area has been served by the Windsor Star since 1888. The regional newspaper is the only daily in Windsor and Essex County and has attracted the highest readership per capita in its circulation range of any Canadian metropolitan newspaper.
The Windsor Independent is an alternative newspaper published once per month, featuring reviews, news, politics, arts, culture and entertainment.
Windsor is considered part of the Detroit television and radio market for purposes of territorial rights. Due to this fact, and its proximity to Toledo and Cleveland, radio and television broadcasters in Windsor are accorded a special status by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, exempting them from many of the Canadian content ("CanCon") requirements most broadcasters in Canada are required to follow. The CanCon requirements are sometimes blamed in part for the decline in popularity of Windsor radio station CKLW, a 50,000 watt AM radio station that in the late 1960s (prior to the advent of CanCon) had been the top-rated radio station not only in Detroit and Windsor, but also in Toledo and Cleveland.
Windsor has also been exempt from concentration of media ownership rules. Except for Blackburn Radio-owned stations CJWF-FM and a rebroadcaster of Chatham's CKUE-FM in Windsor, all other current commercial media outlets are owned by a single company, Bell Media.
The city is home to one campus radio station, CJAM-FM, situated on the University of Windsor campus. Windsor is also served by a few informational news websites including Windsorite.ca, a general news site, and YQG Rocks, which is one of the only media to reviews entertainment shows since the retirement of Windsor Star critic Ted Shaw.
The University of Windsor is Canada's southernmost university. It is a research oriented, comprehensive university with a student population of 16,000 full-time graduate and undergraduate students. Now entering its most ambitious capital expansion since its founding in 1963, the University of Windsor recently opened the Anthony P. Toldo Health Education & Learning Centre, which houses the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. As well, with the help of $40 million in Ontario government funding, the University has recently finished construction of a 300,000-square-foot (28,000 m2), $112-million Centre for Engineering Innovation; a structure that establishes revolutionary design standards across Canada and beyond.
The university is just east of the Ambassador Bridge, south of the Detroit River. Windsor is also home to St. Clair College with a student population of 6500 full-time students. Its main campus is in Windsor, and it also has campuses in Chatham and Wallaceburg. In 2007, St. Clair College opened a satellite campus in downtown Windsor in the former Cleary International Centre. In April 2010, St. Clair College added to its downtown Windsor presence with the addition of its MediaPlex school. Together, they bring over one thousand students into the downtown core every day. The college also opened the TD Student Centre on the corner of Victoria Avenue and University Avenue in 2012. More recently Collège Boréal opened an access centre and small campus to their Ouellette avenue location. This small campus offers access to many Collège Boréal programmes as well as immigration and integration assistance for francophones in the area. Collège Boréal is Windsor's only francophone post-secondary institution, providing service for a small, but notable, population of Franco-Ontarians within the Windsor-Tecumseh-Belle River area.
In Spring 2011, it was announced that the University of Windsor would move its music and visual art programs downtown to be housed in the historic Armouries building and former Greyhound Bus Depot at Freedom Way and University Ave E. The move should bring an additional 500 students into the downtown core daily. The University is also bringing its School of Social Work to the old Windsor Star buildings on Ferry and Pitt Streets, bringing an additional 1000 students into the downtown.
Windsor is home to two International Baccalaureate recognized schools: Assumption College School (a Catholic high school) and Académie Ste. Cécile International School (a private school). Kennedy Collegiate Institute and Vincent Massey Secondary School are renowned in Southern Ontario for their notable accomplishments nationally in mathematics and computer science. Kennedy was built in 1929 in the central part of the city next to Jackson park and is sometimes called the castle because of the unique architecture of the gymnasium located at the rear of the school.
Windsor youth attend schools in the Greater Essex County District School Board (prior to 1998, the Windsor Board of Education), the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, Conseil scolaire catholique Providence and Conseil scolaire Viamonde. Independent faith-based schools include Maranatha Christian Academy (JK-12), Académie Ste. Cécile International School (JK-12, including International Baccalaureate), First Lutheran Christian Academy (JK-8), and Windsor Adventist Elementary School. The non-denominational Lakeview Montessori School is a private school as well.
The Windsor Public Library offers education, entertainment and community history materials, programs and services. The main branch coordinates a literacy program for adults needing functional literacy upgrading. The local historical archives are located here.
The Canada South Science City serves the Elementary School Curriculum’s Science and Technology component.
There are two hospitals in Windsor: Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, formally Hôtel-Dieu Grace Hospital, and Windsor Regional Hospital. Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare is the result of an amalgamation of Grace Hospital and Hôtel-Dieu in 1994. The merger occurred due to the Government of Ontario's province-wide policy to consolidate resources into Local Health Integrated Networks, or LHINs. This was to eliminate duplicate services and allocate resources more efficiently across the region. The policy resulted in the closure of many community-based and historically important hospitals across the province. At this time, Hotel-Dieu Hospital does not do surgeries, nor does it have emergency room services. Its focus has moved away from traditional hospital services and provides more supportive healthcare.
Windsor Regional Hospital has formal and informal agreements with Detroit-area hospitals. For instance, pediatric neurosurgery is no longer performed in Windsor. Leamington District Memorial Hospital in Leamington, Ontario serves much of Essex County and, along with the Windsor institutions, share resources with the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance.
Over five thousand Windsor residents are employed in the health care industry alone in Metro Detroit.
Windsor is the western terminus of both Highway 401, Canada's busiest highway, and Via Rail's Quebec City–Windsor Corridor. Windsor's Via station is the nation's sixth-busiest in terms of passenger volumes.
Windsor has a municipal highway, E.C. Row Expressway, running east–west through the city. Consisting of 15.7 km (9.8 mi) of highway and nine interchanges, the expressway is the fastest way for commuters to travel across the city. E.C. Row Expressway is mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records as the shortest freeway that took the longest time to build as it took more than 15 years to complete. The expressway stretches from Windsor's far west end at Ojibway Parkway east to Banwell Road on the city's border with Tecumseh.
The majority of development in the city of Windsor and neighbouring town of Tecumseh stretches along the water instead of in-land. As a result, there is a lack of major east–west arteries compared to north–south arteries. Only Riverside Drive, Wyandotte Street, Tecumseh Road, County Road 42/Cabana Road and the E.C. Row Expressway serve the almost 30 km (19 mi) from the west end of Windsor eastward. All of these roads, especially the E.C. Row Expressway are burdened with east–west commuter traffic from the development in the city's east end and suburbs further east. There are eight north–south roads interchanging with the expressway: Huron Church Road, Dominion Boulevard, Dougall Avenue, Howard Avenue, Walker Road, Central Avenue, Jefferson Boulevard, and Lauzon Parkway. Traffic backups on some of these north–south roads at the E.C. Row Expressway are common, mainly at Dominion, Dougall, Howard, and Walker as the land south of the expressway and east of Walker is occupied by Windsor airport and there has been little development.
Windsor's many rail crossings intersect with these north–south thoroughfares. In October 2008, the Province of Ontario completed a grade separation at Walker Road and the CP Rail line. Another grade separation was completed in November 2010 at Howard Avenue and the CP Rail line. In both cases, the road travels under the rail line and both have below grade intersections with an east–west street. These were planned as parts of the "Let's Get Windsor-Essex Moving" project funded by the Province of Ontario to improve local transportation infrastructure.
Windsor is connected to Essex and Leamington via Highway 3, and is well connected to the other municipalities and communities throughout Essex County via the county road network. Nearly 20,000 vehicles travel on Highway 3 in Essex County on a daily basis. It is the main route to work for many residents of Leamington, Kingsville and Essex.
Windsor is linked to the United States by the Ambassador Bridge, the Detroit–Windsor Tunnel, a Canadian Pacific Railway tunnel, and the Detroit–Windsor Truck Ferry. The Ambassador Bridge is North America's No. 1 international border crossing in terms of goods volume: 27% of all trade between Canada and the United States crosses at the Ambassador Bridge.
Windsor has a bike trail network including the (Riverfront Bike Trail, Ganatchio Bike Trail, and Little River Extension). They have become a blend of parkland and transportation, as people use the trails to commute to work or across downtown on their bicycles.
The city is served by Windsor Airport, a regional airport with scheduled commuter air service by Air Canada Jazz, Porter Airlines, Westjet, and heavy general aviation traffic. Most flights are within Ontario with connections to Calgary and season connection to Cuba.
The Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport is located approximately 40 km (25 mi) across the border in Romulus, Michigan and is the airport of choice for many Windsor residents as it has regular flights to a larger variety of destinations than Windsor Airport.
Shuttle buses and cars are within driving distance to larger airports like London International Airport, John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport and to Canada's busiest airport and international hub Toronto Pearson International Airport.
The Port of Windsor, which covers 21.2 km (13.2 mi) of shoreline along the Detroit River is part of the Great Lakes/Saint Lawrence Seaway System. Accessible to both Lake freighters and ocean-going vessels, the port is the third largest Canadian Great Lakes port in terms of shipments. Cargos include a wide range of products such as aggregates, salt, grain, fluorspar, lumber, steel, petroleum, vehicles and heavy lift equipment.
A public transport bus service is provided by Transit Windsor, the city-owned bus company, operating 13 fixed bus routes with a fleet of 112 vehicles through the city as well as providing transportation for many of the city's secondary school students and a service to downtown Detroit. Transit Windsor shares its newly constructed $8-million downtown Transit Terminal with Greyhound Lines. The new depot opened in 2007. Current Fare is $3.00 for all riders except children under 5 on regular service routes. Tunnel bus fares are $5.00 and both American and Canadian currencies are accepted on the tunnel bus.
Windsor has a long history with rail travel in both passenger service and freight due to the Michigan Central Railway Tunnel. Intercity passenger railway service is provided by Via Rail throughout the region via the Windsor Railway Station. The region also used to have a second station, the Windsor Michigan Central Railroad Depot – before it was destroyed in a fire – which historically served the Canada Southern Railway, New York Central Railroad and Amtrak.
A major and controversial issue is the amount of traffic to and from the Ambassador Bridge. The number of vehicles crossing the bridge has doubled since 1990. However, the total volume of traffic has been declining since the September 11 attacks.
Access to the Ambassador Bridge is via two municipal roads: Huron Church Road and Wyandotte Street. A large portion of the traffic consists of tractor-trailers. There have been at times a wall of trucks up to 8 km (5.0 mi) long on Huron Church Road. This road cuts through the west end of the city and the trucks are the source of many complaints about noise, pollution and pedestrian hazards. In 2003, a single mother of three, Jacqueline Bouchard, was struck and killed by a truck at the corner of Huron Church and Girardot Avenue in front of Assumption College Catholic High School, a tragedy argued to be due to a lack of practical safety precautions.
Windsor City Council hired traffic consultant Sam Schwartz to produce a proposal for a solution to this traffic problem. City councillors overwhelmingly endorsed the proposal and it was presented to the federal government as a "Made in Windsor" solution. Not all of the surrounding residents supported the plan. One problem with the plan is that the proposed road would cut through protected green spaces such as the Ojibway Prairie Reserve.
In 2005, the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC — a joint Canadian-American committee studying the options for expanding the border crossing) announced that its preferred option was to extend Highway 401 directly westward to a new bridge spanning the Detroit River and interchange with Interstate 75 somewhere between the existing Ambassador Bridge span and Wyandotte.
On April 9, 2010, the City of Windsor, along with local cabinet ministers Dwight Duncan and Sandra Pupatello of the Province of Ontario, announced that a final decision had been made in the plans to construct the Windsor-Essex Parkway, the new Highway 401 extension leading to a future crossing. The announcement indicated that the project will be the most expensive road ever built in Canada on a per kilometre basis, and included commitments to enhance green space design through the use of berming, landscaping, and other aesthetic treatments. As part of negotiations with the City of Windsor (who threatened legal action in pursuit of more tunneling and green space of the route), the province agreed to additional funding to infrastructure projects in Windsor-Essex; this includes money for the improvement to the plaza of the Canadian side of the Windsor-Detroit tunnel, the widening and other improvements of Walker Rd between Division Rd and E.C. Row Expressway, and the environmental assessment and preliminary design of a future extension of Lauzon Parkway to Highway 401.
Windsor has several sister cities:
Windsor's sports fans tend to support the major professional sports league teams in either Detroit or Toronto, but the city itself is home to one professional team. The Windsor Express of the NBL is a Canadian professional basketball team based in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. The Express are an expansion team of the National Basketball League of Canada that began play in the 2012-13 season, with home games played at the WFCU Centre. On April 17, 2014, the Express won their first championship of NBL-Canada against the Island Storm in the 7th game of their final series, 121-106. Windsor is also home for the following youth, minor league and post-secondary teams.Windsor Spitfires (Ontario Hockey League Major Junior "A" 2009, 2010 and 2017 Memorial Cup Champions)Windsor Express (National Basketball League of Canada)Windsor Clippers (Ontario Lacrosse Association Junior "B")Windsor AKO Fratmen (Canadian Junior Football League)Windsor Lancers (Canadian Interuniversity Sport)St. Clair Saints (Canadian Colleges Athletic Association)Windsor Rogues Rugby (Ontario Rugby Union (ORU))Windsor FC Nationals (Ontario Youth Soccer League) (Western Ontario Youth Soccer League)Central Combat Sports (mixed martial arts)Windsor Ultimate (non-profit Ultimate Frisbee league)Windsor Stars (League1 Ontario)Border City Brawlers (Women's Flat Track Derby Association)Windsor Bulldogs (OHA Senior A Hockey League) 1953–1964, won 1963 Allan Cup)Windsor St. Clair Saints (Major League Hockey Senior "AAA"/CCAA)Windsor Royals/Bulldogs (Western Ontario Hockey League) now known as LaSalle VipersWindsor Bulldogs (Canadian Professional Hockey League) 1920s and 1930sWindsor Hornets (Canadian Professional Hockey League) 1920sWindsor Gotfredsons (International Hockey League) 1940sWindsor Spitfires (International Hockey League) 1940sWindsor Warlocks (Major Series Lacrosse) 2004Windsor Clippers (OLA Senior B Lacrosse League) 1960sWindsor Warlocks (OLA Junior A Lacrosse League) 1970sWindsor Warlocks (OLA Junior B Lacrosse League) 1980sWindsor Mariners (Ontario Australian Football League) 2000s
Windsor has hosted a round of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in each of 2009 and 2010 (Detroit hosted the race in 2008). The races take place on a course of pylons set up on the Detroit River, right over the border between Canada and the USA.
The 2016 FINA World Swimming Championships (25 m) took place in Windsor.