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The History of Brantford

The history of this city is traced back more than three centuries to a time when the Native tribes lived in the magnificent forest wilderness of the grand River Valley.

The prime figure in the history of Brantford was Captain Joseph Brant, leader of the Six Nations peoples. Joseph Brant's Monument is worth visiting. It is located in Victoria Park, Downtown Brantford.

Brant known as "Thayendanegea" to his people, fought on the English side during the American Revolution. At war's end, Brant chose to remain under the Crown and requested land in Canada for his people.

Through the efforts and negotiations of Joseph Brant, the Six Nations were granted a tract of land six miles in depth on each side of the Grand River from its mouth to its source. In 1784, Brant led his tribes from their lands in the Mohawk valley of upper New York State to the Grand River Basin, where they crossed the river and became known as Brant's ford and hence, the location and history of Brantford had begun.

However, because of the obscurity of the headwaters of the Grand River, much of the land granted to the  native people was never settled by the Iroquois for the simple reason that they did not know it was there. Brant sold some of the adjoining land to white farmers, many of who were his friends, so that the Iroquois could learn from them and develop agricultural and farming skills.

The first white settler, John Stalts, arrived in the village in 1805. By 1818, the European population consisted of twelve people, and five years later there were 100 people.

In 1826, a meeting was called to name the village, After many suggestions, the name of Brantford was chosen in honour of Captain Joseph Brant.

In 1830, the reminder of the village site was sold by the Six Nations to the white settlers. The town of Brantford was incorporated on July 28, 1847. By this time, the Natives feeling pressure from the Europeans, had slowly moved to the south side of the river to land held in trust for them to set up their homes. This land was known as the Six Nation Indian Reserve and now is called Six Nations of the Grand River. The County of Brant was established in 1852.

On May 31, 1877, with a bustling population of 10,000 people, the town of Brantford, through a Special Act of Provincial Parliament, became a city and began to grow into the prosperous community that it is today.

For the first half of the 20th century, Brantford was an important Canadian industrial center and once the third largest city in Ontario. The city is at the deepest navigable point of the Grand River and was once the railroad hub of Southern Ontario. The combination of water and rails helped Brantford develop from a farming community into a blue collar industrial city based on the agriculture implement industry centred around companies such as Massey Harris and the Cockshutt Plow Company. This industry, more than any other, provided the well paying and steady employment that allowed Brantford to sustain economic growth through most of the 20th century.

By the 1980s and 1990s, the economy of Brantford was in steady decline as a result of the bankruptcies of White Farm Equipment, Massey Ferguson, Koering Waterous, Harding Carpets, and other manufacturers. The closure of the businesses left thousands of people unemployed and created one of the most economically depressed areas in the country.

The completion of the Brantford to Ancaster section of Highway 403 in 1997, provided an increased incentive for business to locate in Brantford again because of easy access to Hamilton and Toronto, as well as being along the quickest route through southern Ontario between Detroit and Buffalo.

We are proud to present beautiful Brantford - "Best Bloomin City" in Canada, from a Native Iroquoian Village in 1784 to a town in 1874, to a city in 1877, to a vibrant small town today, with a very proud heritage and a bright future.