Picton, Ontario

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Picton
Community
Picton Harbour in the winter
Picton Harbour in the winter
Picton is located in Ontario
Picton
Picton
Coordinates: 44°00′N 77°08′W / 44.000°N 77.133°W / 44.000; -77.133
Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
Regional Municipality Prince Edward County
Incorporated (town) 1837
Government
 • Mayor Peter Mertens
 • MP Daryl Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings, CON)
 • MPP Todd Smith (Prince Edward—Hastings, CON)
Area
 • Total 4 km2 (2 sq mi)
Elevation 79 m (259 ft)
Population (2004)MPAC 2004
 • Total 3,983
 • Density 995.75/km2 (2,579.0/sq mi)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Postal Code FSA K0K 2T0
Area code(s) 613
Website www.pecounty.on.ca

Picton is an unincorporated community located in Prince Edward County in southern Central Ontario, Canada. It is the County's largest community and former seat. Picton is located at the south-western end of Picton Bay, a branch of the Bay of Quinte, which is along the northern shoreline of Lake Ontario.[1] The town is named for General Sir Thomas Picton, second in command to Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo.

It was formerly incorporated as a town.

History[edit]

Historical population
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1841 1,200 —    
1871 2,361 +2.28%
1901 3,698 +1.51%
1911 3,564 −0.37%
1921 3,356 −0.60%
1931 3,580 +0.65%
1941 3,901 +0.86%
1951 4,287 +0.95%
1961 4,862 +1.27%
1971 4,875 +0.03%
1981 4,361 −1.11%
1991 4,386 +0.06%
2001 4,563 +0.40%
2006 4,375 −0.84%

Prior to its incorporation in 1837, the modern-day town of Picton consisted of two separate villages—Hallowell Bridge and Picton—which occupied the opposite sides of Picton Bay.

Named for General Sir Thomas Picton, Wellington's second-in-command at the Battle of Waterloo, the Town of Picton has a profound and rich history. It was here that Sir John A. MacDonald managed a law office for his uncle, Lowther P. MacPherson.

In 1998, the town and all other municipalities in the county were dissolved and amalgamated into a single-tier municipality, the Corporation of the County of Prince Edward. Each of the former municipalities is now a ward of the county. Picton is Ward 1.

Airfield[edit]

During the Second World War, the United Kingdom came under siege and required training facilities outside the British Isles for the thousands of pilots needed for defence. Because of geographical similarities to Great Britain, sparsely populated Prince Edward County was considered an ideal location for an RAF Bombing and Gunnery School. In the summer of 1940, an aerodrome was rapidly constructed and in November 1940 the RCAF moved in and began small-arms training at the facility. In April 1941, the RAF took over the station and No 31 Bombing and Gunnery School was formed and used it to train many of the aircrew needed to help defend Great Britain as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

Abandoned barracks at Picton Airport
The Armoury

Following the end of the war, the Canadian Army maintained a training facility at the old aerodrome. It was renamed Camp Picton in 1960 when it became a fully operational Army base. In 1966 it was renamed Canadian Forces Base Picton, but this proved short-lived: in 1969 the base was closed down and sold as part of the consolidation and downsizing of the Canadian military. Portions of the base have been divided up and have served many functions, including conversion of one of the newer barracks sections into a hospital (now defunct) and much of the old base housing is currently occupied as rental homes. The airfield is now known as Picton Airport.

The original aerodrome facilities were built using different construction methods than most bases built by the Canadian military. The rapid construction meant that the hangars and other buildings were not designed for longevity, although most still remain standing today. The former Camp Picton [2] now serves many diverse functions but the unique appearance of the base makes it a significant, if obscure, historical landmark.[citation needed]

Infrastructure[edit]

Transportation[edit]

Picton Airport is a general aviation airport used primarily for recreational flying. It is also used regularly in the summer season for Canadian Air Cadet flight training using Schweizer SGS 2-33A glider sailplanes and Bellanca Scout 8GCBC aircraft.

Due to its distinctive appearance, the dilapidated airport has been used as a filming location for several productions. External scenes for the made-for-TV film Haven, starring Natasha Richardson, Colm Feore and Martin Landau were filmed there. It also served as a backdrop for the 1993 CBC production Dieppe, and was the filming location of Bomber Boys and the 2005 reality-TV show Canada's Worst Driver. Many businesses use the facilities, including a hammock outlet, an auction house, and (since the late 1970s) the local Air Cadet squadron, 851 RC(Air)CS, Prince Edward. The airstrip is also the host to various motorsports events, such as those held by the St. Lawrence Auto Club, which regularly runs Solo II racing events in the summer months.

Highway 33, also known as the Loyalist Parkway, passes through the centre of Picton and serves as its main link to the larger Ontario highway system. It is the main artery from the Glenora Ferry terminal (approximately 10 km from Picton) in the east to Carrying Place and the Murray Canal (approximately 40 km from Picton) as you exit the county in the northwest. Proceeding north-northeast from Picton is County Highway 49 which eventually connects to Highway 401 between Napanee and Shannonville, after passing through a portion of Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. Highway 33 also connects to Highway 62, which provides a link to the city of Belleville, approximately 30 km to the northwest. The city of Kingston, the eastern terminus of Highway 33, is located approximately 60 km by road east of Picton if you use the year-round Glenora ferry to exit the county travelling east.

At one time, Prince Edward County was extensively served by a rail system. However, the railway no longer exists. The former rail beds have been converted into recreational trails which wind around the outskirts of Picton and throughout the county and are used for various purposes year-round.

Picton has extensive small-craft docking facilities and boat launch ramps. There are no facilities for heavy shipping at the tip of the bay, so large commercial vessels are generally not seen in the portion of Picton Bay near the town. However, east of town on the northern shore of the bay there is a cement plant with industrial docking facilities.

Utilities[edit]

In the past, electrical services had been managed by the local utilities commission. In recent years, this was eliminated and electrical power is now managed by the central Hydro ONE, a Government of Ontario Crown corporation.

Economy[edit]

Historic theatre in Picton

Tourism[edit]

Picton is also located in one of Ontario's most beautiful areas of forests, lodging, camping, wine making and vacation spots. The tourism industry is a primary source of revenue for many area residents, especially in the summer. Historic downtown Picton offers a wide array of shops and services.

The historic Crystal Palace, (circa 1890) is one of the last remaining replicas of the original Crystal Palace, UK.

Beside the Crystal Palace is the County Youthpark, another draw for tourists. Recently the YoungLife youth event "Road Rage," which had teens of all ages visiting skateboard parks across Ontario and then entering their homemade skateboarding video into a contest, passed through Picton, bringing young blood into the County to visit what is otherwise recognized as a large retirement community. The County Youthpark provides the space for both skateboarders and BMXers to enjoy the park and also provides space for the young and young at heart to enjoy the innovative playground. A canteen is open during the summer to sell small food items. The recent skateboard competition prompted a mini-documentary that highlights why the Youthpark is great for Picton. The artistic rendering of the skatepark is available at Transworld's website by clicking here.

The Picton BIA represents the voice of business which include the owners and tenants of more than 200 commercial properties in the Town. Their members support numerous charitable activities in the region, including the Picton Santa Claus Parade.

Picton continues to serve as the economic hub of Prince Edward County.

Other industry[edit]

Prince Edward County is a largely agricultural area. As such dairying and meat, fruit and vegetable processing and storage are relatively common. Also in the vicinity are manufacturers of pallets, caskets and other wood products. There is a light industrial park in the town which has several modest manufacturing businesses making goods such as refrigeration products and filtered bottled water. Just northeast of Picton is a cement plant operated by ESSROC Italcementi, which is the only heavy industry in the immediate area. There are numerous quarrying operations located nearby which support this and other similar plants.

In recent years, many artisans and artists have moved to the area and opened studios. In many of the local stores you can purchase local art and hand-crafted products. These products are beginning to play a more serious role in the local economy.

In addition, there has been a proliferation of small wineries in the southern half of the county. Properties listed for sale, especially defunct farms with the right kind of exposure, are often described as ideal locations for new wineries allowing a markup of their property values. Now with an official VQA designation, what role the area will play in the larger Ontario wine industry in the near future remains to be seen.

Picton is also home to Canada's largest premier kayak manufacturer, ClearWater Design.

The Academy Award-winning film, The English Patient, has a character from Picton.

Education[edit]

The Public school system is served by the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board. The Separate School system is served by the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board.

Elementary Schools: Queen Elizabeth Public School, St. Gregory Catholic School

Secondary School: Prince Edward Collegiate Institute

Private Schools: Sonrise Christian Academy

Notable residents[edit]

Coordinates: 44°00′N 77°08′W / 44.000°N 77.133°W / 44.000; -77.133

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]