Brockville, named after the British general Sir Isaac Brock (founded as Elizabethtown), is just east of the Thousand Islands region of the St Lawrence River, and the eastern end of the Thousand Islands Parkway. Brockville sits opposite Morristown, New York, and is about half-way between Cornwall and Kingston and just an hour south of the national capital of Ottawa.
This area was first settled by Europeans in 1785, when thousands of United Empire Loyalists arrived from the American colonies after the American Revolutionary War, when many colonists who remained loyal to the crown were subject to reprisals and unfair dispossession of their property. Great Britain opened the western region of Canada (known as Upper Canada and now Ontario), purchasing land from First Nations to allocate to the mostly English-speaking Loyalists in compensation for their losses.
The St. Lawrence River, which separates Brockville and Morristown, New York, was named by French explorers in the 18th century to honour the martyred Roman Christian, Saint Laurentis. In 1785 the first U.E. Loyalist called the first settlement “Buell’s Bay”. Around 1810 government officials of Upper Canada designated the village as Elizabethtown.
Over the 1800s, area industries including shipbuilding, saddleries, tanneries, tinsmiths, a foundry, a brewery, and several hotels. In the mid-1850s several patent medicine companies sprung up. In 1855, Brockville was chosen as a divisional point (for crews and railway maintenance) of the new Grand Trunk Railway between Montreal and Toronto. It was also the southern terminus of the Brockville and Ottawa Railway connecting the Ottawa Valley timber trade with the St. Lawrence River shipping route, which included the Brockville Tunnel, Canada’s first (1860) railway tunnel. The Brockville and Ottawa Railway extended up Smith’s Falls, Perth, Almonte, Carleton Place and Sandy Point.
In the 1950s, the St Lawrence Seaway was built, with dams creating hydro-electric power, and locks making the river navigable by ocean-going vessels. In 1962 Brockville became a city, and is now home to several large industrial manufacturers, including 3M, Procter & Gamble , manufacturer Canarm, Trillium Canada pharmaceutical, and oil-blending plant of Shell Canada, and several other light-industrial facilities and call centres.