spacer spacer
OSAIC / About Owen Sound Area / History   Member LogIn   
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer spacer
spacer spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer
Owen Sound and Area History
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer
spacer In the year 2000, Owen Sound - the city - turned 80. But the community which has grown up in this beautiful area of the country is much older than that.

Records show that at the turn of the l7th century, the land east and south of Owen Sound was occupied by the Petun Indians. During war campaigns launched by the Iroquois in the middle part of the century, these tribes were driven out and the territory around Owen Sound became Iroquois. The Iroquois were eventually driven out by the Ojibway tribes who lived north of Lake Superior.
spacer spacer

spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer
spacer spacer

spacer The first white visitor to the Owen Sound area was probably French explorer Samuel de Champlain with Father Le Caron in 1616. He recorded information on the local Indians, naming them "Cheveux Releves" because of their high head dress.

The next recorded visitor was Captain Gother Mann in 1788, who arrived at the harbour during storms and high water. Captain Mann named the bay "Thunder Bay" because of the severe storms during his stay.
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer
spacer In 1815, William Fitzwilliam Owen and Lieutenant Henry W. Bayfield were sent to survey the waters of the upper Great Lakes. The inlet named "Owen's Sound" was in honour of Admiral Sir Edward William Campbell Rich Owen, Captain Owen's elder brother.

In 1837, Charles Rankin began laying out a townsite along the waterfront. His work was delayed by the rebellion in Upper Canada, but was resumed in 1840.

Known as Sydenham, the townsite was originally located on the eastern bank of the Sydenham River close to the harbour. Settlers began arriving by boat in 1841 and were for the most part Scottish, Irish and English.
spacer spacer

spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer
spacer spacer

spacer Life must have been very hard for those first settlers. Although they had access to water routes, there were no roads to the village until 1848, and during winter months, water routes would have been blocked by ice. In fact, in the mid 1840's, it took a man ten days to travel to Barrie and back, so bad were the overland routes.

By 1851 the village's name was changed to Owen Sound and in 1853, the village was chosen as the seat for Grey County.

A look at the village's records in 1853 shows a thriving settlement. The population had reached 1,088 and contained two schools, four churches, a temperance hall, five taverns, three newspapers and seventeen merchants, many of whom offered essential supplies and services such as clothing, blacksmithing and carpentry.
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer
spacer The town's early success in development was due to its proximity to one of Canada's key natural resources - lumber. From the 1850's to the beginning of the next century, logging was the principal industry in Grey and Bruce Counties. The clear bays along the eastern portion of the Bruce Peninsula were often black with logs being transported to larger centres for processing.

It was the town's connection to the two most important methods of travel during the Nineteenth Century - ships and trains - however, that would prove to be the greatest incentive for growth.
spacer spacer

spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer
spacer spacer

spacer In terms of shipping, it was clear from the time of original settlement that Owen Sound's primary function would be as a Great Lakes port. Boats were used to ferry residents to other communities in the area, as well as for fishing and the transport of products and supplies.

The shipping industry played a huge role in the local economy. There were a number of ship builders located here, and many families earned their living by working on the boats.
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer
spacer A few short years after the village was incorporated as the Town of Owen Sound in 1857, discussion arose regarding the possibility of introducing a railway line to the town.

The Toronto Grey and Bruce Railway Company expressed interest in building a line to Owen Sound about 1860. The track was chartered in 1868, but actual construction was not completed until 1873. The line extended along the eastern shore of the waterfront.
spacer spacer

spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer
spacer spacer

spacer In 1883 the railway was taken over by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. The railway track on the west side of the waterfront was constructed in 1894 by the Grand Trunk Railway, later becoming Canadian National Railway. The present building was erected in the early 1930's and is now the Marine & Rail Heritage Museum.

With the arrival of two railways, Owen Sound became a major shipping centre. By the 1880's, the waterfront was frequented by Georgian Bay and Lake Superior steamers.

By the turn of the century Owen Sound was well on its way to becoming a bustling urban centre with a number of industries including cement manufacturers, ship builders and furniture factories. It was also regarded as a regional centre, supplying many of the surrounding communities with essential supplies and services.
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer
spacer In 1920, Owen Sound was finally incorporated as a city, and the rest, as they say, is history. Owen Sound's first mayor was Richard Carney.

Since the year of its incorporation, Owen Sound has seen many changes. By the 20's it became apparent that the city's industrial boom was drawing to a close. Logging activity in the area was rapidly declining. The opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959 meant that Owen Sound's prominence as a shipping terminal was coming to an end.
spacer spacer

spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer
spacer spacer

spacer Nevertheless, the city's importance as a regional centre continued to grow, as did its popularity as a holiday destination.

It is not too hard to imagine what Owen Sound would have looked like during the early days of its incorporation as a city. All one need do is walk along the city's elegant, tree-lined streets and view the many fine examples of period architecture. Or drop by one of the many family-owned businesses that were established at the time and are still in operation.

Owen Sound is a city that has turned its history into a living tradition, one which enriches the many lives it touches every day.
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer spacer
Privacy Policy Terms & Conditions Disclaimer Subscribe To Page
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer spacer
 Accessiblity Options Site Map Font:   [S]   [M]   [L] Color:   [Normal]   [Plain]
spacer
spacer