|— City —|
|Motto: Sarnia Semper
(Latin for "Sarnia Always")
|Incorporated||19 June 1856 (town)|
|Incorporated||7 May 1914 (city)|
|• City Mayor||Mike Bradley|
|• Governing Body||Sarnia City Council|
|• MPs||Pat Davidson (CPC)|
|• MPPs||Bob Bailey (OPC)|
|• Land||164.71 km2 (63.59 sq mi)|
|• Metro||799.87 km2 (308.83 sq mi)|
|Elevation||180.60 m (592.52 ft)|
|Postal code span||N7S, N7T, N7X|
|Area code(s)||519 and 226|
Sarnia is a city in Southern (Southwestern) Ontario, Canada (2011 population 72,366; Urban Area population 79,526; Census Agglomeration population 89,555). It is the largest city on Lake Huron and in Lambton County. It is located where the upper Great Lakes empty into the St. Clair River, across the border east of Port Huron, Michigan.
The city's natural harbour first attracted the French explorer La Salle, who named the site "The Rapids" when he had horses and men pull his 45-ton Barque "Le Griffon" up the almost four knot current of the St. Clair River on 24 August 1679. This was the first time anything other than a canoe, or other oar-powered vessel, sailed into Lake Huron. La Salle's voyage led the way for commercial shipping on the Great Lakes. The Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario considers this voyage worthy of note as shown by the photo.
The natural port and the salt caverns that exist in the surrounding areas, coupled with the oil discovered in nearby Oil Springs in 1858 led to the massive growth of the petroleum industry in this area. Since Oil Springs was the first place in Canada and North America to drill commercially for oil, the knowledge that was acquired there and strengthened in Sarnia led to Sarnians traveling the world teaching other nations how to drill for oil. The complex of refining and chemical companies, called Chemical Valley and located south of downtown Sarnia, once adorned the back of the Canadian ten-dollar note. Sarnia has the highest level of particulates air pollution of any Canadian city. Forty-five percent of this comes from Chemical Valley, and the rest comes from the neighbouring United States. The Canada Wide Daily Standard for MP2.5 is 30 micrograms per cubic meter. This standard was exceeded on one day during 2011.
The name "Sarnia" is Latin for Guernsey, and that Channel Island has been called Guernsey since 1635 when John Selden penned the Mare Clausum. Selden's 1635 work definitively states--"That a possession and Dominion of this Southern Sea hath been held also of by the Kings of England, is not a little manifest by the dominion of those islands that lie before the shore of France. For 'tis generally known that, after King John and Henry III were driven out of Normandy itself, that the isles of Caesaria and Sarnia (which we call Jersey and Guernsey), Ameney (Alderney), and some other neighboring isles lying near the shores of Normandy and Bretaign, yea and situated within that creek of sea which is made by the shore Bretaign on the one side and Normandy on the other, have in the following ages, both now and heretofore, remained the Dominion of England." The Channel Islands lie between Southern England and Northern France, as indicated by Selden.
Claims that Sarnia is instead the older name of Sark are incorrect as shown by Berry's 1814 treatise on the History of Guernsey. In this work, Berry shows that Sark's previous name was Sarmia, with an "M" instead of an "N." Berry further states "...and thus applying Sarnia to Guernsey...". Since ancient Gaul was a Celtic society, and the channel islands were disputed from 933 to 1635 by Duke of Normandy (see Sark), it is at least possible that the name Sarnia is of Celtic etymology, as well.
From "The Rapids" to "Port Sarnia" to "Sarnia", the city has undergone many changes—from First Nations hunting ground to an up-and-coming settlement and an industrial centre. In 1821, Sir John Colborne was appointed Governor of the Isle of Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands. Colborne served in that capacity from 1821 to 1828. He arrived in York in 1829 to become Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. Also in 1829, Sarnia and Moore were surveyed by Boswell Mount, and named by Sir John Colborne, who first visited "The Rapids" in 1835 when the village was composed of 44 taxpayers, 9 frame houses, 4 log houses, 2 brick dwellings, 2 taverns and 3 stores. Previous to his visit, the villagers had decided that a change of name was necessary, but found it impossible to agree on a new name. The English settlers favoured the name "Buenos Aires" and the Scottish "New Glasgow". To break the deadlock, Sir John Colborne suggested Port Sarnia and on 4 January 1836, the name was formally adopted by a vote of 26 to 16.
First Nations peoples have lived, hunted, and traveled across the area for as many as six-thousand years as shown by archaeological evidence on Walpole Island. These peoples were drawn from an amalgamation of Ojibwa, Ottawa, and Potowatami, clans, forming the Three Fires Confederacy, also called the Council of Three Fires. These clans came together through common links in both language and culture, developing a self-sufficient society where tasks and responsibilities were equally shared among all members. The Three Fires Confederacy helped shape the development of North America throughout the 18th Century, becoming a center of trade and culture. When war came to the new continent, the peoples of the Three Fires fought against the British in the Seven Years' War and on the side of the British in the War of 1812. Despite breaking numerous treaties with the United States prior to 1815, The Three Fires Confederacy finally signed the Treaty of Springwells in September of that year and ceased all hostilities directed at the United States.
After the War of 1812, the first European settlers were French loyalists who moved north from Detroit. They successfully traded with the Three Fires Confederacy, which contributed to the growth of the area. Sarnia grew further throughout the 19th Century, and on 19 June 1856, the residents passed the Act to Incorporate the Town of Sarnia and the name Port Sarnia was officially changed to Sarnia effective 1 January 1857. The Act mentioned 1,000 inhabitants in three wards. The wealth of adjoining stands of timber, the discovery of oil in nearby Oil Springs in 1858 by James Miller Williams, and the arrival of the Great Western Railway in 1858 and the Grand Trunk Railway in 1859 all stimulated Sarnia's growth. The rail lines were later linked directly to the United States by the opening of the St. Clair Tunnel under the St. Clair River at Sarnia in 1890 by the Grand Trunk Railway, which was the first tunnel ever constructed under a river. The tunnel was an engineering marvel in its day, achieved through the development of original techniques for excavating in a compressed air environment. The Paul M. Tellier Tunnel, named after the retired president of CN in 2004, was bored and began operation in 1995. It accommodates double-stacked rail cars and is located next to the original tunnel, which has been sealed.
A stonemason by trade, Alexander Mackenzie came to Sarnia in 1846. He founded and then edited the Sarnia Observer for many years, and had many editorial battles with a Sarnia timber cutter named Malcolm Cameron. Mackenzie finally got the upper hand by printing an article showing Cameron had dealt unfairly with the Three Fires Confederacy. Although Cameron served two terms in Parliament, his further ambitions were thwarted because of the scandal. Mackenzie went on to serve as the second Prime Minister of Canada. He died in Toronto in 1892 from a stroke related to a fall and was buried in Sarnia. He was 70 years old.
Canada Steamship Lines formed in 1913 from many previous companies that plied the waters of the St. Clair River. One of these companies was Northwest Transportation Company of Sarnia, which was founded in 1870. By 20 April 1914, when the residents passed Act to Incorporate the City of Sarnia, the population had grown to 10,985 in six wards. Sarnia officially became a city as of 7 May, also adopting the title "The Imperial City" because of the visit of Canada’s Governor General, H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught, and his daughter Princess Patricia.
The city became a prominent deep water port during the 1920s when many of the shipping facilities that exist today were constructed. Sarnia’s port and harbour facilities regularly accommodate ships from all over the world. The waterway between Detroit and Sarnia is one of the busiest in the world with 100 million tons of shipping passing along this route each year. Ships pass up and down the river at the rate of about one every seven minutes during the shipping season. One of the largest grain elevators in Canada rises above the harbour, and next to it is the slip for the numerous bulk carriers that are part of the aforementioned 100 million tons of shipping.
While there had been a petroleum industry in the Sarnia area since 1858, the establishment of the Polymer Corporation in 1942 to manufacture synthetic rubber during World War II was the first step in establishing Sarnia as a major petrochemical centre. Because of Sarnia's importance in this industry, it became one of the primary targets of the Soviet Union's Anti-Energy strike strategy during the Cold War.
On 1 January 1991, Sarnia and the neighbouring town of Clearwater were amalgamated as the new city of Sarnia-Clearwater. The amalgamation was originally slated to include the village of Point Edward, although that village's residents resisted and were eventually permitted to remain independent of the city. On 1 January 1992, the city reverted to the name Sarnia.
Sarnia's population experienced a continual growth from 1961 to 1991, with a 1991 population of 74,376. In 2001 the population had declined by approximately 3,000. Since 2001 Sarnia's population has been growing slowly, with a 2011 population count of 72,366. Despite these modest gains, an April 2010 report "Sarnia-Lambton's Labour Market" states: "Large petrochemical companies are the community's main economic drivers. Over the recent past, several plants have shutdown, and of those still in operation, increased automation and outsourcing has led to significantly fewer workers" . These shutdowns and the resulting loss of jobs, and therefore population as workers search for employment elsewhere, have contributed to a general decline since the 1960s. In fact, one August 2011 study shows that the population will decline by 17% over the next twenty-five years. The Monteith-Brown study cited outlines a plan for restructuring the city based on hybrid zoning areas, which will bring work opportunities closer to the neighborhoods where people live. The City of Sarnia and Lambton County are also implementing an economic development plan with an emphasis on bioindustries and renewable energy. In the same article, Mayor Mike Bradley jokes that he'll attract new developers by giving them a ride in his vintage Mustang and providing them with a plate of Sarnia's world famous fresh cut fries under the Bluewater Bridge.
Sarnia is located where Lake Huron empties into the St. Clair River. Most of the surrounding area is quite flat, and clay comprises most of the soil. Despite this, the soil is remarkably rich for growing and planting since the entire area was submerged prior to the Ice Age and plant and animal matter formed many layers of sediment as they settled after the waters receded. During the Ice Age, glaciers covered most of the area as evidenced by the existence of the Great Lakes. The terminal moraines dumped even more nutrients into the already very rich soil. Sarnia is not part of the Canadian Shield, being just beyond its southernmost reaches. The Canadian Shield itself has been largely untouched by water since long before the seas covered Sarnia. Sarnia is located 280 km West of Toronto and 90 km North of Detroit.
Wiltshire Park, Woodland, Oak Acres, Wees Beach, Oakwood Corners, Woodrow Shores, and Blackwell, are part of the more affluent North End, which begins immediately north of Ontario Highway 402 and terminates at the shore of Lake Huron. Coronation Park, Heritage Park, College Park, The Tree Streets, and Sherwood Village are some of the neighbourhoods south of the highway.  One Sarnia neighbourhood no longer exists: all that remains is a historical marker. The village of Bluewater was built to house workers and their families during the construction of Polymer Corporation and at one point had over 2300 residents, many of them French-Canadian. In 1961 all the residents were relocated, mostly to the North End, to make way for expansion of the chemical industry.
The climate of Sarnia is considered mild by Canadian standards. It has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb). Winters are cool but not very cold, spare for a few short-lasting Arctic air masses that dip far enough south and bring with them daily high temperatures lower than −10 °C (14 °F) . Sarnia is located in a snowbelt and sometimes receives large quantities of lake-effect snow. A Windsor Star article printed 15 December 2010 states the following: "Snowbelts, like the one that stretches from the south of Sarnia through London to Woodstock, are created by lake effects—largely defined by water and wind" and "Making matters worse for this storm is extreme wind. (Environment Canada Senior Climatologist David Phillips) said Sarnia collected between 30 and 40 centimetres of snow, combined with sustained winds of more than 40 km/h, gusting up to 80 km/h. The wind sculpted massive snow drifts and reduced visibility to near zero, making travel impossible.". Otherwise, as also shown by the National Climate Data and Information Archive, Sarnia has very little regular snowfall, a result of its position at the southern tip of Lake Huron. Lake Huron moderates the city in several ways. It creates a seasonal lag: compared to the rest of Canada and to inland Ontario, Sarnia has a noticeably longer warm period following summer. However, cooler temperatures tend to prevail for longer after winter. Lake Huron can also create large temperature differences within the city in spring and early summer, particularly on hot days in late May, early June. Finally, extreme temperatures, particularly lows, are rarely ever seen. Weather in the Great Lakes Region tends to be more predictable than any other non-coastal area of the continent. Summers are warm to hot and usually humid. Humidex readings can be very high at times from late May to late September. In fact, Sarnia has the second greatest number of high humidex days at or above 35 °C (95 °F) (with 21.67 days on average per year) and humidex days at or above 30 °C (86 °F) (with 59.13 days on average per year) in Canada, both after Windsor, Ontario. Thunderstorms can become quite severe from April to September. Destructive weather is very rare in the area but has occurred, such as the tornado event of 1953.
|Climate data for Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport|
|Record high Humidex||17.2||21.5||30.0||35.0||38.8||44.3||49.9||47.3||43.8||34.9||26.1||22.4||49.9|
|Record high °C (°F)||15.0
|Average high °C (°F)||−1.7
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−5.4
|Average low °C (°F)||−8.9
|Record low °C (°F)||−28.9
|Precipitation mm (inches)||50.1
|Rainfall mm (inches)||22.1
|Snowfall cm (inches)||31.6
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm)||14.6||12.4||13.0||13.2||11.6||10.9||10.7||10.3||11.3||11.3||13.3||14.4||147.1|
|Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm)||4.4||4.6||7.9||11.6||11.6||10.9||10.7||10.3||11.3||11.0||10.6||6.9||111.8|
|Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm)||11.6||9.1||6.9||2.4||0||0||0||0||0||0.5||3.7||9.9||44.0|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||82.7||101.4||134.1||186.8||245.7||269.0||297.7||250.3||189.1||149.4||89.3||66.6||2,061.9|
|Source: Environment Canada |
Population figures reflect Sarnia's amalgamation with Clearwater in 1991.
In the 2011 Census, the City of Sarnia had a population of 72,366, an increase of 1.3% from the 2006 Census. With a land area of 164.71 km2 (63.59 sq mi), it had a population density of 439.354/km2 (1,137.92/sq mi) in 2011.
In 2006, Sarnia had a predominately white population; only 6.13% were non-European. Of those, 34.06% were aboriginal representing the largest group. In 2006, 85.32% of Sarnians counted English as their mother tongue, 3.11% listed French, 0.29% counted both of those languages, and 9.76% counted another language as their mother tongue. The median age in Sarnia is 43.2 which is older than the Canadian median of 40.95, indicative of Sarnia's aging population. According to the most recent data on religion (2001 Census), Sarnia is predominately Christian as 32.8% of the population were Catholic, 45.94% were Protestant, 3% were of other Christian faiths, 0.37% were Muslim, 0.19% were Jewish, 0.81% were other faiths. 16.86% professed no religious preference or were atheists.
The median income in Sarnia (all census families, 2006) is $69,731 which is roughly the same as Ontario as a whole with a median income of $69,156. The median cost of a home in Sarnia of $175,214 (2006) is much lower than Ontario with a median value of $297,479.
Economy and Infrastructure
The petrochemical industry is the main economic force in Sarnia. The Sarnia-Lambton Workforce Development Board states in its March 2011 Labour Market Report that: "Even though employment in both the petrochemical and agricultural industries has declined significantly in recent years, these two industries remain central drivers of the Sarnia Lambton economy."
When World War II threatened tropical sources of natural latex for rubber, Sarnia was selected as the site to spearhead development of synthetic petroleum-based rubbers for war materials, and Polymer Corporation was built by Dow Chemical at the request of the Government of Canada. Large pipelines bring Alberta oil to Sarnia, where oil refining and petrochemical production have become mainstays of the city's economy. Shell Canada, Imperial Oil, and Suncor Energy (Sunoco) operate refineries in Sarnia. Large salt beds found under the city became a source of chlorine and other significant ingredients in the success of Chemical Valley. Chemical companies operating in Sarnia include NOVA Chemicals, Bayer (Lanxess and H.C. Starck), Imperial Oil, Royal Group Technologies, Cabot Corporation and Ethyl Corporation.
Dow ceased the last of its operations at its Sarnia site in 2009. The plant was decommissioned, and the land has been sold to neighbouring TransAlta Energy Corporation. TransAlta produces power and steam for industry, and is the largest natural gas co-generation plant in Canada. TransAlta has created the Bluewater Energy Park on the former Dow site.
Lanxess is the sole producer of approved food-grade butyl rubber, which is used to make chewing gum, and its Sarnia facility is the only one which currently makes the material. Lanxess has created the Bio-industrial Park Sarnia within the boundaries of its Sarnia plant.
Chemical Valley and the surrounding area are home to sixty-two facilities and refineries. These industrial complexes are the heart of Sarnia's infrastructure and economy. They provide thousands of jobs, not only in the plants and complexes themselves, but also in surrounding businesses. The huge industrial area also causes many environmental problems with both air and water pollution (see separate section).
Sarnia is the location of Enbridge's Sarnia Photovoltaic Power Plant. The facility went into full commercial operation in December 2009, with 20 MW of power. As of September 2010, the plant was the largest photovoltaic (PV) solar power generation facility in the world, putting out 97MW.
The University of Western Ontario established a Research Park in Sarnia as part of its expansion. "The 80-acre Western University Research Park, Sarnia-Lambton Campus was established in 2003 as a joint initiative of the County of Lambton, the City of Sarnia, and Western University." The Research Park is also the location of the Bioindustrial Innovation Centre, Canada’s centre for the commercialization of industrial biotechnology.
Bio-based industries are locating in Sarnia. In 2012 BioAmber began construction of North America's first biosuccinic acid plant at the Bio-Industrial Park Sarnia. The company has announced that it already plans to double the size of this new $80 million plant. Solutions4C02 is developing a 50,000 square foot demonstration facility at the Bluewater Energy Park in Sarnia. The company caputres waste gas/water streams to process into value added co-products. PlantForm Corporation, a Canadian biotech startup company focused on producing ultra-low-cost therapeutic antibody drugs, opened an office at the Western University Research Park, Sarnia-Lambton Campus, in 2011. KmX Corporation began setting up a pilot plant at the Western University Research Park, Sarnia-Lambton Campus, in Summer 2012. The pilot plant will produce biobutanol.
Retail and Hospitality
Sarnia has two large malls: Lambton Mall has seventy-two stores, and the Bayside Centre, which has fourteen stores, including an art gallery, and houses several government and medical services. Combined with several smaller shopping centres, major discount stores, dollar stores, convenient stores, and a collection of antique and specialty stores, they offer a wide range of shopping experiences. Travellers can choose from ten branded and many family-owned hotels and motels.
Sarnia is a border city, on the Canadian side of the Blue Water Bridge linking Sarnia's neighbouring village of Point Edward to the city of Port Huron in the United States of America. The Blue Water Bridge spans the St. Clair River, which connects Lake Huron to Lake St. Clair. The original three-lane span, which was opened in 1938, was twinned on 22 July 1997, making the bridge the fourth busiest border crossing in Ontario. The Blue Water Bridge border crossing makes use of both the NEXUS (frequent traveler program) and the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program. Today linking Ontario Highway 402 with the US I-94 and I-69, the bridge is one of the most important gateways on the north/south truck routes as part of the NAFTA Superhighway.
Sarnia Transit provides public transportation within the City of Sarnia. This includes conventional bus transit, transportation of people with disabilities (Care-A-Van), transportation support for major events, and charter services. Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport is located in Sarnia. Air Georgian operates to and from Toronto Pearson on behalf of Air Canada Express. Sarnia is also one of the two western termini (along with Windsor) of the Via Rail Quebec City – Windsor Corridor, over which there is service departing Sarnia station in the morning and arriving in the evening.
Sarnia is served by Bluewater Health, a hospital with 188 acute care beds, 70 complex continuing care beds and 27 rehabilitation beds. Prior to 2003, there were three separate hospital buildings in Sarnia, which included the St. Joseph's Health Centre and Sarnia General Hospital. In 2003, they amalgamated into a single corporation. A new hospital was planned under the single banner of Bluewater Health and the new hospital building opened its doors in 2010. Bluewater Health was recently recognized by HIROC, one of the largest hospital insurers in Canada, for its continued improvement in patient safety and care quality.
Arts and Culture
Sarnia has much to offer in the arts. The International Symphony Orchestra plays at the Imperial Theatre, and their season lasts from September to April each year. Michael Learned headlined Driving Miss Daisy at the same theatre in 2010. Former Max Webster frontman Kim Mitchell has also returned to his hometown on occasion to play a concert, most recently in 2008 for Sarnia's popular Ribfest. Canadian composer and music educator Raymond Murray Schafer was born in Sarnia and developed his radical schizophonia techniques there.
The Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership relates that the Imperial Theatre offers year round productions, and Gallery Lambton offers exhibitions of some of the most influential artists working in Ontario today, many with national and international reputations. Besides the single museum in Sarnia proper, six other museums in the local area document Sarnia's history, including its legacy as the home of the North American Oil Industry .
During the Christmas season, the city of Sarnia presents the annual Celebration of Lights in Centennial Park. It was originally created in 1984 by Dr. Wills Rawana and a committee which was originally funded through the Centre by the Bay and Telus. Rogers Communications, TransAlta Corporation, and Ontario Power Generation sponsored the event in December 2011. In its first year, nine displays comprised only 650 lights. Throughout the last eighteen years the event has garnered numerous awards as it has grown, including second place in the 2002 Canadian Government's Canada WinterLights competition following the extensive judging of festivals across the country. The Celebration was incorporated in its national prizewinning year and now offers motor coach tours not only of the displays in Centennial park itself, but also throughout all of Sarnia.
Sarnia Bayfest, which was preceded by the "Festival by the Bay," is an annual concert festival that features rock and country bands, typically during the second or third weekend of July. Big name bands highlight the festival annually. 2013 would have marked the fifteenth anniversary of the annual festival, but financial woes have scuttled the event. Organizers state that it is "not the end," and that they plan on coming back on solid financial footing in 2014. 
Portions of several films have been shot in Sarnia. Scenes from the 1994 film Renaissance Man and the 2000 film Bless the Child were both filmed at the Blue Water Bridge. In 2002, Michael Moore filmed segments of his documentary Bowling for Columbine in Sarnia. He interviewed residents outside the local Taco Bell, the plaza beside it, the Famous Players' Lambton 9 movie theater and at a gun show in nearby Point Edward. In the summer of 2004, Sarnia mayor Mike Bradley (who was also interviewed in the film), offered to name Moore an honorary citizen of Sarnia. In his 2007 film Sicko, Michael Moore returned to Sarnia to film and interview his relatives at Sears and in the Marina restaurant at the former St. Clair Parkway site, as well as interview a golfer at the Holiday Inn Golf Course.
There are over 100 parks of different sizes in Sarnia. The largest of these is Canatara Park, which covers over 200 acres along the shore of Lake Huron . Canatara is an Ojibwe word that actually means Blue Water. An important donor in 1932, Mrs. W. J. Hanna, named the park after helping purchase the land upon which the park now rests. The park was opened 24 May 1933.
Within the park is Lake Chipican, which is a haven for 280 different species of birds on their migration routes. The park also maintains a Children's Animal Farm on the property as part of Sarnia's commitment to wildlife in Canatara Park. Canatara Park is also one of the first parks in southern Ontario to feature an Outdoor Fitness Equipment installation. A company called ActiveFit Outdoor Fitness Equipment installed the equipment in the late summer of 2011.
Germain Park is the largest recreational park and incorporates five baseball diamonds, four soccer fields, an outdoor pool, and the Community Gardens. Also, one of the last thirteen remaining Canadair Sabres in Canada is on display as a memorial to Canadian aviators who gave their lives in World War II.
Sarnia now has one museum within the city limits as Discovery House Museum, an historic house built sometime between 1869 and 1875 by a Sarnia lawyer, has since been converted to a hospice, though it is still a testament to Victorian Era construction. Since it underwent renovation on 1 May 2001 Stones ' N Bones has grown to house over 6000 exhibits spread over 10000 square feet. The collection includes rocks, artifacts, fossils, and bones from all over the world.
The city's sandy fresh water beaches are a popular tourist attraction, while the sheltered harbour houses marinas for recreational sailing. Since 1925, the 400 km (250 mi) Mackinac race from Sarnia/Port Huron to Mackinac Island, at the north end of the lake, has been the highlight of the sailing season, drawing more than 3,000 sailors each year .
There were two casino operations in the Sarnia area prior to 2012. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, or OLG, ran a slot machine establishment at the Hiawatha Horse Park in Sarnia but has since ceased operations of the slot machines. The Horse Park remains as a harness racing venue. In neighboring Point Edward, there is a full casino.
Fries Under the Bridge
Sarnia's world famous fresh cut fries are another popular tourist attraction. Thousands of visitors sample a steaming hot plate of these potatoes annually by visiting the trucks parked under the Bluewater Bridge. In fact, The Toronto Star mentions that a popular Sarnia fry establishment garnered enthusiastic support from the local population when forced to move to a brick and mortar location down the street from its familiar parking spot under the Bluewater Bridge in 2010. It had sold its fries in the previous location since before 1960. The same Toronto Star article quotes Canadian author Ian Chadwick as follows: “There is one single, unifying element that defines our Canadian culture in absolute terms,” writes Chadwick, “a skein that runs through the warp and weft of the Canadian psyche. It’s not our language, not our universal social programs. . . It’s not even the animosity we hold each other in — the bipolarization of English versus French, east versus west, everyone versus Ontario. No, — it’s the chip wagon. Yes, the glue of our national identity is the grease of the french fry.”
Sarnia is home to the Sarnia Legionnaires (1954–1970), the most successful Jr. 'B' hockey team in Ontario history with five Western Jr. 'B' Hockey League championships and four Sutherland Cups as Ontario Hockey Association Junior B champions in the league's 16 seasons. Today a new Sarnia Legionnaires play in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. It is also home to the Sarnia Sting, an Ontario Hockey League team. Dino Ciccarelli, a former NHL player, is a part owner of the team. Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning is the most successful Sarnia Sting product, as he was selected first overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and went on to win the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy in 2010 and 2012. He also joined the 60 goal club in 2012, joining the likes of Wayne Gretzky and Brett Hull as one of only 19 players to achieve that feat. Sarnia also boasts having a World Champion from its population. Curler Steve Bice played as alternate for the Glenn Howard rink in the Tim Hortons Brier and 2007 Ford World Men's Curling Championship, winning both. Twice, in 1934 and 1936, the Sarnia Imperials won the Grey Cup as the Champions of Canadian Football. Today the Sarnia Imperials are a semi-professional team in the Northern Football Conference.
Sarnia City Council consists of nine elected members: the Mayor, four members from the city, and four members from the county. The Mayor and all Council members are elected to four-year terms. The four Lambton County Council members serve both County and City Council while the four Sarnia City Councillors do not.
The current mayor, Mike Bradley, has held the position since December 1988 and is the longest-serving mayor in the city's history. Past mayors of the city have included Andy Brandt, Marceil Saddy, Paul Blundy and Thomas George Johnston.
Right now, the four County/City Councillors are David Boushy, Jim Foubister, Bev MacDougall and Anne Marie Gillis. The four City Councillors presently representing citizens include: Andy Bruziewicz, Jon McEachran, Mike Kelch and Terry Burrell.
At the provincial level, Sarnia is located within the Sarnia—Lambton provincial electoral district which is currently represented by Bob Bailey, a member of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. At the federal level, Sarnia is located within the Sarnia—Lambton federal electoral district which is currently represented by Patricia Davidson of the Conservative Party of Canada.
The Lambton Kent District School Board is responsible for the 13 elementary and four secondary public schools (Northern Collegiate Institute and Vocational School, Alexander MacKenzie Secondary School, Sarnia Collegiate Institute & Technical School and St. Clair Secondary School) located within Sarnia's boundaries.
The St. Clair Catholic District School Board is responsible for the city's seven elementary and two secondary Catholic schools (St. Christopher's and St. Patrick's). Both boards also provide French immersion education. In 2014, St. Patrick's and St. Christopher's are scheduled to merge into St. Christopher's North Sarnia site and retain the St. Patrick's name. The Conseil scolaire de district des écoles catholiques du Sud-Ouest represents the two French Catholic schools in the city, Saint-François-Xavier and Saint-Thomas-d'Aquin, while the Conseil Scolaire de District du Centre Sud-Ouest operates two French public schools, the elementary École Les Rapides and the secondary École Secondaire Franco-Jeunesse. There are also two independent Christian elementary schools in Sarnia—Sarnia Christian School and Temple Christian Academy  .
Lambton College is one of Ontario's 21 colleges of applied arts and technology. It has a full-time enrollment of 2,500 and a part-time enrollment of about 8,000. It is the city's only post-secondary school.
There are four radio stations that originate from Sarnia, although other stations rebroadcast their signal there, notably CKTI-FM, a First Nations produced station from Kettle Point, and CBEG-FM, a simulcast of CBC Radio One from Windsor, Ontario
- 1070 AM — CHOK, country/news/sports
- 99.9 FM — CFGX-FM 99.9 The Fox, adult contemporary
- 103.9 FM — CHOK-1 (rebroadcaster of CHOK AM)
- 106.3 FM — CHKS, active rock
Sarnia does not have any network television stations of its own, although the city does have a community channel, TVCogeco, on Cogeco, along with several rebroadcast stations from Detroit, Windsor, and London, Ontario.
Sarnia has a dedicated Sports only website - Sarniasports.com. This News and Information website has been in operation since 1999 and is a pioneer in local internet media being the first local media website to report sports. http://www.sarniasports.com
The city's main daily newspaper is the Sarnia Observer, owned by Osprey Media, a division of Sun Media, itself a division of Quebecor. The community publications Sarnia This Week, Lambton County Smart Shopper and Business Trends are owned by Bowes Publishing. The monthly business oriented newspaper First Monday is owned by Huron Web Printing and Graphics. Lambton Shield Publishing has been in operation since November 2010 and runs an on-line only news website, lambtonshield.com, delivering local news and services to the Sarnia-Lambton area.
There are two magazines currently published in Sarnia, Business Trends and Report on Industry. Business Trends is distributed through City Hall and Report on Industry is sent to executives in surrounding businesses. One may also view Report on Industry articles online . Fix Magazine, an arts publication, was formerly published monthly in Sarnia but its website indicates it is on hiatus and "under construction" .
Many notable people call Sarnia home. Chris Hadfield returned to Earth from commanding the International Space Station on 13 May 2013 . Nobel laureate George Andrew Olah, although born in Hungary, called Sarnia home. James Doohan of Star Trek fame attended high school in Sarnia. Most notable Sarnians, however, are athletes and others associated with sports and include former NHL star Pat Verbeek, NHL referee Kerry Fraser, current NHL star Steven Stamkos, champion curler Steve Bice, and 2003 Masters Champion Mike Weir. Dominique Pegg, a Sarnia gymnast, won a Bronze Medal in Floor Exercise, at the World Cup event in Cottbus in March 2012.
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