Brantford is a relatively small but progressive and vibrant city located in the south west part of Ontario, Canada, near Brant County. It has a population of less than a 100,000 people and sits on the Grand River (Which flows through many Southern Ontario cities and towns like Paris, Caledonia, and Dunnville).
Brantford is also known by many as “The Telephone City” as Alexander Bell, a son of Brantford, invented the device in the 19th century. Let's learn a little more, shall we..
In the Beginning
The first settlers to Brantford landed in the late 18th century when Joseph Brant and the Six Nations arrived.
Brantford is named after Joseph Brant, a military and political leader of the Iroquois Confederacy.
He was a diplomat and statesman during the American Revolution of 1775 who was loyal to the British.
Following the American Revolution, Joseph Brant and his followers were granted land on the Grand River as a reward and compensation for their loyalty to the British during the Revolution.
It was known as “Brant’s Ford” and the name evolved to the name “Brantford”.
One of the last remaining settlements from this era, is the Mohawk Chapel, built in 1785 and is Ontario’s oldest Protestant Church.
The Birthplace of the Telephone
Over the years, there has been a lot of debate as to where the telephone was really invented: Boston or Brantford?
This controversy was cleared up by Alexander Bell himself in a speech he gave in 1906 where he stated that the idea and concept of the telephone was conceived in Brantford in 1874 and born in Boston in 1875.
The first telephone call was made from Brantford to Paris in 1876 whilst the first telephone factory in Canada was located in Brantford around 1879.
The Bell Monument was built to honour Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone and was unveiled in 1917 and can be located within the Bell Memorial Gardens of Bell Memorial Park.
Modern Day Brantford
During the 20th century, Brantford developed from a farming community to a commercial hub, thanks to existing networks, roadways and railroads.
The industrial revival of Brantford resulted in many blue-collar jobs, consequently, stimulating economic activity as employment rose due to the need for agricultural equipment, and the manufacturing industry experienced a boom.
Unfortunately, this economic boom that had provided employment for the many people of Brantford and consistent growth for the greater part of the 20th century, came to an end in the 80s and 90s due to technological advancement resulting in factories closing, companies declaring bankruptcy and workers being laid off from work.
Brantford became economically depressed and the vibrant buzz of the city died... Temporarily at least...
Brantford was “reborn” thanks to its tactical and favourable location and good governance as finances were invested in Brantford’s transportation links.
Today, Brantford has easy access to major markets thanks to its central positioning on Highway 403.
It is less than a day’s drive to 18 major cities and is accessible internationally not just by highways but also by rail, plane and shipping ports.
As at February 2019, unemployment stood at 4.6%, which is lower than Ontario’s overall unemployment rate of 5.5%.
Sports, Arts & Culture
You can’t talk about Brantford and not mention Hockey!
Brantford is where the famous living legend of Hockey Wayne Gretzky was born and bred.
He has a sports centre named after him, The Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre where his hockey memorabilia is on display. The Brantford & Area Sports Hall of Recognition also displays memorabilia from Brantford’s greatest athletes such as Rugby player, Aaron Carpenter.
In addition to sports, Brantford is rich with arts and culture and has a plethora of historical sites, museums, galleries and libraries including the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts, the Bell Homestead National Historic site, the Canadian Heritage Museum, the Glenhyrst Art Gallery, to name but a few.
For a taste of Brantford’s cultural heritage, you can learn more about the history of the indigenous people at Woodland Cultural Centre and Her Majesty’s Royal Chapel of the Mohawks.
© Jerry Coli/Dreamstime.com
The Great Outdoors
For lovers of the great outdoors, who want to get away for some self-care, check out the Brant Conservation Area, otherwise known as the Grand River Parks, which lies on the Grand River, very close to Brantford.
It’s ideal for picnics, campers, hikers, bikers, anglers, canoeists and swimmers. It is open daily during the summer months from May to October between 6am and 9pm.
It’s beautiful scenery and lush green surroundings, makes it ideal for some “me-time”. Some visitors to the park are even known to have a “power-nap” due to the tranquil nature which can lull you into a sweet, peaceful snooze!
Children and Families
Brantford is a family-oriented community of people which has Neighbourhood Hubs where families come together with other neighbours to socialize and take part in different activities.
Families can receive free health programs and educational activities. Brantford has 4 Neighbourhood hubs:
Major Ballachey Public School.
It is a great way for newcomers to get integrated into the neighbourhood.
Food and Culture
Brantford is a diverse and multicultural city.
Although the main languages spoken are English and French, the city is made up of communities from all over the world and as can be expected, this is reflected in its food. With ethnic groups from Japan, Korea, the Philippines, China, Nigeria, Ukraine, Somalia, to name but a few. Brantford takes pride in its diversity and how better to celebrate and showcase this but through the annual International Villages Festival where ethnic groups set up villages around Brantford and sell traditional ethnic food, promote cultural activities and display educational stands.
This has been running for 47 years every July and is a great way to have a taste of world food without leaving Brantford! Apart from food, the different villages display and promote their vibrant and rich cultural heritage through dance, music and traditional attire.
Aside from the festival, there are many great restaurants in Brantford to choose from. Some of the top ones with great reviews are Gran Sasso, for authentic and delicious Italian food. On the Lam – described as “the hidden gem of Brantford” for an explosion of different flavours of gourmet food.
For Japanese food, Joy Sushi Bar offers the best Sushi in Brantford according to their customers (and the customer is always King!). Go to Montana for a family friendly restaurant with great food and great service. Blessing Eatery for tasty, spicy and delicious Chinese food.
There are so many great places to choose from – why not pay Brantford a visit and taste for yourself!