|Nickname(s): The Imperial 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 Southwestern Ontario, Canada, and had a 2011 population of 72,366. It is the largest city on Lake Huron and in Lambton County. Sarnia is located on the eastern bank of the junction between the Upper and Lower Great Lakes where Lake Huron flows into the St. Clair River, which forms the Canada-United States border, directly across from 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-tonne barque "Le Griffon" up the almost four-knot current of the St. Clair River on 23 August 1679.
This was the first time anything other than a canoe or other oar-powered vessel had sailed into Lake Huron, and La Salle's voyage was thus germinal in the development of commercial shipping on the Great Lakes. Located in the natural harbour, the Sarnia port remains an important centre for lake freighters and oceangoing ships carrying cargoes of grain and petroleum products. The natural port and the salt caverns that exist in the surrounding areas, together with the oil discovered in nearby Oil Springs in 1858 led to the massive growth of the petroleum industry in this area. Because Oil Springs was the first place in Canada and North America to drill commercially for oil, the knowledge that was acquired there led to oil drillers from Sarnia travelling the world teaching other nations how to drill for oil.
The complex of refining and chemical companies is called Chemical Valley and located south of downtown Sarnia. The city has the highest level of particulates air pollution of any Canadian city because of its reliance on the petrochemical industry. Lake Huron is cooler than the air in summer and warmer than the air in winter; therefore, it moderates Sarnia's humid continental climate, which makes temperature extremes of hot and cold very rare. In the winter, Sarnia experiences large amounts of lake-effect snow because Arctic air blows across the warmer waters of Lake Huron and condenses to form snow squalls once over land.
Culturally, Sarnia is a large part of the artistic presence in Southern Ontario. The city's International Symphony Orchestra is renowned in the area and has won the Outstanding Community Orchestra Award given by the Detroit Music Awards in 2011. Michael Learned graced the stage of the Imperial Theatre for a 2010 production of Driving Miss Daisy  The largest event that happens in Sarnia is Sarnia Bayfest, which is a popular music festival that takes place during the summer. In 2013, organizers cancelled the event because of money troubles but look forward to securing funding in the future.
- 1 Name
- 2 History
- 3 Geography
- 4 Demographics
- 5 Economy and infrastructure
- 6 Culture
- 7 Attractions
- 8 Sports
- 9 Government
- 10 Education
- 11 Media
- 12 Notable people
- 13 References
- 14 External links
The name "Sarnia" is Latin for Guernsey, which is a British Channel Island. In 1829 Sir John Colborne, a former governor of Guernsey, was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. In this capacity, he visited two small settlements in 1835 that had been laid out on the shores of Lake Huron. One of these, named "The Rapids," consisted then of 44 taxpayers, nine frame houses, four log houses, two brick dwellings, two taverns and three stores. The villagers wished to change its name but were unable to agree on an alternative. The English settlers favoured the name "Buenos Aires" and the Scottish "New Glasgow". Sir John Colborne suggested Port Sarnia. On 4 January 1836, the name was formally adopted by a vote of 26 to 16, and Colborne also named the nearby village Moore after British military hero Sir John Moore. Sarnia adopted the nickname "The Imperial City" on 7 May 1914 because of the visit of Canada's Governor General, H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught, and his daughter Princess Patricia.
First Nations peoples have lived, hunted, and traveled across the area for at least 10,000 years, as shown by archaeological evidence on Walpole Island. These peoples were drawn from an amalgamation of Ojibwa, Ottawa, and Potowatami clans, which formed the Three Fires Confederacy, also called the Council of Three Fires, in A.D.796. 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.
During the 1600s and 1700s, The Three Fires Confederacy controlled much of the area known as the hub of the Great Lakes, which included the Canadian shore where Sarnia is now located. During this time, it maintained relations with many of the First Nations, including Huron, Sioux, and Iroquois, as well as the countries of Great Britain and France. In fact, their trading partners, the Huron, welcomed La Salle and the Griffon in 1679 after he sailed into Lake Huron. The Ontario Heritage Trust erected a sign under the Bluewater Bridge in commemoration of the voyage, as shown by the photo of the sign.
Because of this beginning of the incursion of Europeans into the area, the members of the Confederacy helped shape the development of North America throughout the 18th Century, becoming a center of trade and culture. Great Britain supported this strengthening of the tribes in the area as a set of allies against the French and the Iroqouis. The people of the Three Fires Confederacy, however, sided with the French during the Seven Years War and only made peace with Great Britain after the Treaty of Fort Niagara in 1764. It also fought on the side of the British during the War of 1812. The Three Fires Confederacy also broke several treaties with the United States prior to 1815, but finally signed the Treaty of Springwells in September of that year and ceased all hostilities directed at the United States. The Grand Council survived intact until the middle to late 19th century, when more modern political systems began to evolve.
After the War of 1812, the first Europeans in the area were French settlers loyal to the British Crown who moved north from Detroit. They successfully traded with the Three Fires Confederacy, which contributed to the growth of the area. After its foundation, Port Sarnia expanded throughout the 19th Century; 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 railroad 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.
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 1914.
Sarnia's grain elevator, which is the sixth largest currently operating in Canada, was built after the dredging of Sarnia Harbour in 1927. Two short years later, grain shipments had become an important part of Sarnia's economy. The grain elevator rises above the harbour, and next to it is the slip for the numerous bulk carriers and other ships that are part of the shipping industry that includes vessels from all over the world. The waterway between Detroit and Sarnia is one of the world's busiest, as indicated by the average of 78,943,900 tonnes of shipping that annually travelled the river going in both directions during the period 1993–2002. Lake freighters and oceangoing ships, which are known as "salties," pass up and down the river at the rate of about one every seven minutes during the shipping season. During this same period, The Paul M. Tellier Tunnel, which was 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.
While there had been a petroleum industry in the Sarnia area since 1858, the establishment of Polymer Corporation in 1942 to manufacture synthetic rubber during World War II was a great success and began Sarnia's rise as a major petrochemical centre. Because of Sarnia's importance in this industry, it appeared on a United States Government list of possible Soviet targets as part of its Anti-Energy nuclear 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, will contribute to a general decline shown by one August 2011 study, which 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.
Sarnia is located on the eastern shore of Lake Huron at its extreme southern point where it flows into the St. Clair River. Most of the surrounding area is flat, and the elevation ranges from 169 metres (554 ft) and 281 metres (922 ft) above sea level. The soil mostly comprises clay. Despite this high percentage of clay, the soil is remarkably rich for cultivation. Prior to the Ice Age, glaciers covered most of the area, as can be seen not only by the existence of the Great Lakes themselves but also of alluvial sand deposits, terminal moraines, and rich oil reserves, the entire area was submerged and plant and animal matter formed many layers of sediment as they settled after the waters receded. Sarnia is not part of the Canadian Shield and is located just beyond its southernmost reaches, 290 kilometres (180 mi) West of Toronto and 106 kilometres (66 mi) North of Detroit.
Wiltshire Park, Woodland, Oak Acres, Wees Beach, Oakwood Corners, Woodrow Shores, and Blackwell, are part of the North End of Sarnia, 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.  The village of Blue Water was built to house workers and their families in Chemical Valley during the construction of Polymer Corporation and at one point had nearly 3,000 residents. In 1961, all the residents were relocated, mostly to the North End, to make way for expansion of the chemical industry. The village was demolished, and all that remains now is an historical marker at the corner of Vidal Street and Huron Avenue. This neighbourhood was largely forgotten until historian Lorraine Williams penned two books about it and was instrumental in the dedication of the plaque. 
Sarnia has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb), which is mild by Canadian standards. Winters are cool except 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. 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. Sarnia averages 112.0 cm of snow per year, while London averages 194.3.
The lake creates a seasonal lag, and compared to the rest of Canada and 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. Daily lows less than −10 °C (14 °F) are seen an average of 30 days a year, and less than −20 °C (−4 °F) two days a year. 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 23.16 days on average per year) and humidex days at or above 30 °C (86 °F) (with 61.20 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 (1981−2010)|
|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)||−1.2
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−4.8
|Average low °C (°F)||−8.3
|Record low °C (°F)||−28.9
|Precipitation mm (inches)||51.5
|Rainfall mm (inches)||22.9
|Snowfall cm (inches)||31.0
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm)||15.0||11.9||12.9||14.0||12.6||10.9||10.9||10.4||11.4||12.2||13.7||14.2||150.0|
|Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm)||5.0||4.9||7.5||12.4||12.6||10.9||10.9||10.4||11.4||12.2||11.5||7.2||116.7|
|Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm)||11.3||8.4||7.0||2.4||0||0||0||0||0||0.19||3.0||9.0||41.4|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||81.7||100.3||139.9||185.2||236.6||266.3||299.1||254.3||191.3||151.2||87.6||67.4||2,060.9|
|Percent possible sunshine||28.0||33.9||37.9||46.2||52.2||58.0||64.3||58.9||50.9||44.1||29.9||24.0||44.0|
|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 2011, Sarnia had an overwhelmingly white population; only 8.54% were visible minorities. Of those, 63.77% were aboriginal representing the largest group. In 2011, 89.31% of Sarnians called English their mother tongue, 2.46% listed French, 0.87% stated both of those languages, and 7.37% said another language was their mother tongue.
The median age in Sarnia is 44.5 which is older than the Canadian median of 40.95, indicative of Sarnia's aging population. According to the 2011 Census, Sarnia is predominately Christian as 28.46% of the population were Catholic, 12.4% were members of the United Church of Canada, 7.3% were Anglican, and 20.06% were of other Christian faiths, Muslim, or Jewish; 28.38% professed no religious preference or were atheists. The median income counting all persons 15 years old or older in Sarnia in 2010 was $24,919, which is less than that Ontario as a whole with a median income of $29,335.
Economy and infrastructure
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 which contributed to the success of Chemical Valley. Chemical companies operating in Sarnia include NOVA Chemicals, Bayer (Lanxess and H.C. Starck), Cabot Corporation and Ethyl Corporation.
Dow ceased 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. It has created the Bluewater Energy Park on the former Dow site. Lanxess produces more than 150,000 tonnes of butyl rubber annually at its Sarnia location, and is the sole producer of regulatory-approved, food-grade butyl rubber, used in the manufacture of chewing gum. Within the boundaries of its Sarnia plant Lanxess has also created the Bio-industrial Park Sarnia.
Chemical Valley and the surrounding area are home to 62 facilities and refineries. These industrial complexes are the heart of Sarnia's infrastructure and economy. They directly employ nearly 8,000, and contribute to almost 45,000 additional jobs in the area. In 1971, the Canadian government deemed this area so important to the economic development of the country that it printed an image of a Sarnia Oil Refinery on the reverse of the Canadian $10 note. The huge industrial area is the cause of significant air and water pollution. The Canada Wide Daily Standard for airborne particulate matter and ozone pollution, regulation PM2.5, is 30 micrograms per cubic metre. Forty-five percent of this particulate air pollution in Sarnia comes from Chemical Valley, and the rest drifts over the St. Clair River from the neighbouring United States in the form of what is known as "Transboundary Air Pollution."
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 97 MW.
The 80-acre Western University Research Park, Sarnia-Lambton Campus was established in 2003 by the University of Western Ontario as a joint initiative with the County of Lambton and the City of Sarnia. The park is also the location of the Bioindustrial Innovation Centre, Canada's centre for the commercialization of industrial biotechnology.
In 2012 BioAmber began construction of North America's first biosuccinic acid plant at the Bio-Industrial Park. The company has since announced that it plans to double the original size of this $80 million plant. Solutions4C02 is developing a 50,000 square foot demonstration facility at the Bluewater Energy Park. This company captures waste gas/water streams to process into value-added co-products. PlantForm Corporation, a Canadian biotech startup company producing ultra-low-cost therapeutic antibody drugs, opened an office at the Western University Research Park in 2011, and the KmX Corporation began work on a pilot plant at the park in Summer 2012, for the production of biobutanol.
Retail and hospitality
Sarnia has two large malls: Lambton Mall with 72 stores, and the Bayside Centre with 14 stores, an art gallery and several government and medical services. These large malls combine with several smaller shopping centres, discount stores, dollar stores, convenience stores, and a collection of antique and specialty stores to form the crux of Sarnia's retail business. Travellers can choose from ten branded and many family-owned hotels and motels.
The Blue Water Bridge links Sarnia and its neighbouring village of Point Edward to the city of Port Huron in the United States. It spans the St. Clair River, which connects Lake Huron to Lake St. Clair. The bridge's original three-lane span, 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. Linking Ontario Highway 402 with the US I-94 and I-69, the bridge forms part of the NAFTA Superhighway, and is one of the most important gateways on the north/south truck routes.
Public transportation within the City of Sarnia, including conventional bus transit, transportation of people with disabilities, transportation support for major events, and charter services, is provided by Sarnia Transit.  From the city's local airport, Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport, Air Georgian operates services to and from Toronto Pearson International Airport on behalf of Air Canada Express. For rail travel, Sarnia is one of the two western termini, along with Windsor, of the Via Rail Quebec City – Windsor Corridor, over which a service departs Sarnia station in the morning and arrives 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. The hospital opened in 2010, following the amalgamation of several smaller facilities. Bluewater Health was recently recognized by Healthcare Insurance Reciprocal of Canada, one of the country's largest hospital insurers, for its continued improvement in patient safety and care quality.
Music, theatre, and arts
Sarnia's musical and theatrical presence in Southern Ontario is significant. The International Symphony Orchestra plays at the Imperial Theatre for an annual season lasting from September to April. In addition to symphonic concerts, the Imperial Theatre offers year-round dramatic productions; Michael Learned played the lead in Driving Miss Daisy at the theatre in 2010. Former Max Webster frontman Kim Mitchell has returned to his hometown on occasion to play a concert, including his visit in 2008 for Sarnia's popular Ribfest, a competition where local amateur chefs share their recipes for barbecued ribs and compete against each other.
Canadian composer and music educator Raymond Murray Schafer was born in Sarnia and developed his radical schizophonia techniques there. Musicians and groups such as Aerosmith, KISS, Keith Urban, John Bon Jovi and Rascal Flatts have played at Sarnia Bayfest in the past. The Sarnia Bayfest, which was preceded by the "Festival by the Bay," is an annual concert festival that features big-name rock and country bands, typically during the second or third weekend of July. 2013 would have marked the fifteenth anniversary of the annual festival, but financial problems caused the event's cancellation. Organizers state that it is "not the end," and that they plan on coming back on solid financial footing sometime in the future, as the festival's website states the event is on an indefinite hiatus.
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. Gallery Lambton offers 12 annual art exhibitions.
During the Christmas season, the city of Sarnia presents the annual "Celebration of Lights" in Centennial Park. The event was created in 1984 by Dr. Wills Rawana and a committee funded by the retail chain Hudson's Bay, and the national telecommunications company Telus. From modest beginnings the event has garnered numerous awards as it has grown, including second place in the 2002 Canadian Government's Canada WinterLights competition. The Celebration, was incorporated in its national prizewinning year and is now run by a voluntary Board of Directors.
There are over 100 parks in Sarnia, the largest being Canatara Park, which covers over 200 acres along the shore of Lake Huron. Canatara is an Ojibwe word that means Blue Water. The park was opened 24 May 1933. Within the park is Lake Chipican, a haven for 280 different species of birds on their migration routes. The park also maintains a Children's Animal Farm as part of Sarnia's commitment to wildlife. Canatara Park is one of the first parks in southern Ontario to feature an outdoor fitness equipment installation.
The largest recreational park in Sarnia is Germain Park, which incorporates five baseball diamonds, four soccer fields, an outdoor pool, and the Community Gardens. As a memorial to Canadian aviators who gave their lives in World War II, one of the remaining Canadair Sabres in Canada is on display in the park,
Centennial Park was opened on Dominion Day in 1967, as part of Canada's centenary celebrations. The City of Sarnia decided in 2013 to close much of Centennial Park, after the discovery of toxic lead and asbestos in the soil.
Sarnia has one remaining museum within its city limits: "Stones 'N Bones", which houses over 6,000 exhibits. The collection includes rocks, artifacts, fossils, and bones from all over the world. A previous museum, the Discovery House Museum, has been converted into to a hospice. This historic house, built between 1869 and 1875, is recognised as a testament to Victorian Era construction.
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 .
Sarnia's fresh-cut fries are another popular tourist attraction, and thousands of visitors annually visit the chip trucks parked under the Bluewater Bridge. Niagara-based cookbook author and food e-magazine publisher Lynn Ogryzlo visited the chip trucks in August 2012 and stated "“I was blown away by Sarnia," not only by the city's waterfront, where the chip trucks are located, but also by the chip trucks themselves. She also published an article in her e-magazine, The Ontario Table, recognizing the outstanding quality of the fresh-cut fries. Guelph-based travel writer Pat Brennan also recognized the quality of Sarnia's fries in his 2007 piece "Sarnia Boasts Best Fries in the World." In 2012, Sarnia officials even created a special detour to reach the chip trucks during a period of construction. Realizing the popularity of Sarnia's chip trucks, the Ontario Medical Association includes them in a campaign to have fries and other junk food labelled for being dangerous in the same manner as cigarettes.
Sarnia is home to the Sarnia Legionnaires ice hockey team, which plays in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. The team is successor to the Sarnia Legionnaires (1954–1970), who won five Western Jr.'B' championships and four Sutherland Cups during 16 seasons in the Ontario Hockey Association. Sarnia is also home to the Sarnia Sting, a junior ice hockey team in the Ontario Hockey League. Dino Ciccarelli, a former NHL player, is a part owner of the team. Former Sting player Steven Stamkos was selected first overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Sarnia has a successful tradition in Canadian football. As members of the Ontario Rugby Football Union, the local team Sarnia Imperials twice won the Grey Cup, in 1934 and 1936. The modern Sarnia Imperials are a semi-professional team playing in the Northern Football Conference.
The Sarnia-born world champion curler Steve Bice played as alternate for the Glenn Howard rink in the 2007 Tim Hortons Brier and 2007 Ford World Men's Curling Championship, winning both times.
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.
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.
At the provincial level, Sarnia is located within the Sarnia-Lambton provincial electoral district, represented in 2013 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 in 2013 was represented by Patricia Davidson of the Conservative Party of Canada.
Over the past 50 years, Sarnia's voters have proven to be remarkably moderate, and the party affiliation of its Members of Parliament, both provincial and federal, has swung back and forth between the Liberal and Progressive Conservative parties.   
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). In 2014, St. Patrick's and St. Christopher's are scheduled to merge, under the St. Patrick's name, on St. Christopher's North Sarnia site.
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, which offers two-year programs and diplomas, is one of Ontario's 21 colleges of applied arts and technology. It has a full-time enrolment of 3,500 and a part-time enrolment 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.
- CHOK, country/news/sports
- CFGX-FM The Fox, adult contemporary
- CHOK-1 (rebroadcaster of CHOK AM)
- CHKS, active rock
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. Report on Industry articles are available online.
Among Sarnia's distinguished residents are Chris Hadfield, who has flown two space shuttle missions and served as commander of the International Space Station. The Nobel laureate George Andrew Olah moved to Sarnia from his native Hungary to join Dow Chemical in 1957. James Doohan, the well-known Star Trek actor, attended high school in Sarnia. Many notable Sarnians are athletes and others associated with sports, such as former NHL star Pat Verbeek, retired NHL referee Kerry Fraser, current NHL star Steven Stamkos, champion curler Steve Bice, and golfer Mike Weir, who was the 2003 Masters Champion. 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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