Windsor gained city status, people were in a party mood; streets
were alive with the sights and sounds of excited celebrants; mongrel
dogs added to the bedlam, running among skittish horses, yapping
at the heals of little boys with hoops doing tricks for little girls
who were cuddling rag dolls and pretending not to notice...
Opened in 1871, Windsor Central
School was converted and used as City Hall from about 1903 through
1956. The present City Hall was built on the same site and opened
in 1958. In the background is All Saints Anglican Church.
was one of those picture-perfect spring days: A light, caressing
breeze played tease-tag with cottonball clouds, bobbing and skipping
in unfettered delight across the sky, clear blue as the finest Wedgwood.
It was the kind of day that made heavy hearts light and forced lingering
memories of bitter winter months to retreat like the last traces
of a morning fog.
If you could pick any day you wanted as the day to celebrate your
citys first birthday, the best would be this one Tuesday,
May 24th, 1892.
Making it doubly important, it was also the day the British Empire
celebrated the 73rd birthday of Queen Victoria. She was also making
her 55th year as monarch.
The city had come awake early this Tuesday morning and even now
the clock on the tower overlooking the low-slung wooden army barracks
in City Square, showed that it was not yet nine oclock. There
was still more than an hour to wait before the big event
the Trades and Society Procession would begin.
People were in a party mood; streets were alive with the sights
and sounds of excited celebrants; mongrel dogs added to the bedlam,
running among skittish horses, yapping at the heals of little boys
with hoops doing tricks for little girls who were cuddling rag dolls
and pretending not to notice.
The ladies, prim in their cotton prints, scolded their men for tardiness;
the men grumbled, running thick fingers inside the stiff rim of
starched collars; toes were already raw from the chafing of heavy
black boots normally endured only at weddings, funerals and Sabbath
From the distance came the spirited strains of patriotic marching
music as the 21st Fusiliers and the Toronto Grenadiers, one of the
countrys leading military bands, tuned their instruments for
The Grenadiers had left Toronto by train at ten oclock Saturday
night and arrived in Windsor at seven oclock Sunday morning.
They were billeted on the Janisse farm just outside the city.
Hundreds poured into the city with every passing hour; they came
from the surrounding countryside by wagon, by boat, and train; others
crossed by ferry from Detroit to join and congratulate their Canadian
cousins on this important day.
Our Birthday Party a hummer
was a day to remember, a day marked by saturation coverage of the
citys two newspapers, The Windsor Record, a daily, and its
sister, The Windsor Weekly Record.The story began:
Tramp, tramp, tramp Boom! Boom! Boom!
Did Windsor bubble over? Well, we should say so.
1892 the Klondike Gold Rush was still firing the minds of fortune
a woollen mill in Essex County discovered
its own mother lode by providing blankets for sale to those heading
northwest in search of wealth beyond imagining.
Weekly Record, then owned by McNee and McKay and selling for $1
per annum (in advance), had recently reported the launching of a
fine ferry boat built for the Detroit, Belle Isle and Windsor
Ferry Company. . .Electric street lighting arrived in 1890, the
same year the first patient was admitted to Hotel Dieu Hospital.
citizens took right hold and nearly every building in the city was
gay with bunting flags. The Trades and Society Procession was simply
immense and the spirits of the people present were away up
Windsors first telephone exchange came in 1880 and by 1892,
there were 205 subscribers. By 1888 the city had three miles of
paved streets and in 1891 council voted to spend $20,000 on paving.
In June 1886 the first commercial electric railway system in Canada
started running between Windsor and Walkerville
procession occupied over an hour in passing a given place
9 oclock in the morning people began moving towards the rendezvous
for the procession at the corner of Bruce Avenue and Sandwich Street.
Shortly after 10 oclock the procession got a move on
liver oil sold at 35 cents a bottle and was said to be good for
those suffering from difficulty of breathing, tightness of chest,
wasting away flesh, throat troubles, bronchitis, weak lung, asthma,
cough, catarrh and colds.
were selling 20 to 30 cents per hundred; potatoes, 45 cents per
bushel; dressed chicken, 6 cents per pound.
after dinner the crowd wended its way to the park and during the
afternoon, from Sandwich Street to the park, Ouellette Avenue was
a veritable living mass of humanity
crowd was immense and exceeded all expectations. Only a small portion
of the number visited the park, yet that was filled to overflowing
population was 4,833,000 in 1891
the Canadian West was opening
the CPR advertised trains leaving Toronto every
Tuesday for Manitoba and the Northwest.
12 oclock the celebration committee banqueted the visitors
and officers at the British American (Hotel). A large number sat
down to a good spread
Committee Chairman Francis Cleary proposed the toasts to the Queen
and Dominion and Provincial Parliaments
the banquet the party took hacks and proceeded to the Driving Park
(Jackson Park) to see the sports and military display
Evening Record is two years old
it is a pretty feisty infant
The roads between Windsor and Amherstburg have been improved so
that the stage can be used again
after 3 oclock the Grenadiers and Fusiliers headed by their
respective bands arrived at the Driving Park and took up positions
preparatory to the Grenadiers going through the movements of trooping
three cars on the Sandwich line cover 462 metres per day
demand for lights is so great that the Citizens Electric Light Company
will install a new 1800 candlepower dynamo
April, the Ontario Legislature passed, with a one-vote majority,
a new bill allowing women to study and practise law in the province.
the train pulled out, Col. Dawson attempted to make a speech but
the noise of the assembled was too great and beyond a few in his
immediate vicinity, his remarks were unheard.
Bang Boom! Oh what a jag.
Take in your flags. It was a hummer
Didnt we spread ourselves
Photo and story Birth Of
A City by Carl Morgan copyright 1991, Border Press Inc., Windsor
avail. for $29.95 at The TIMES Book Store