Bruce County

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Bruce County

Gaelic: Siorramachd Bhruis
County of Bruce
"In Deo Imperium Sed Populus Administrat"  (Latin)
"Administration by the People, but under the authority of God"
Location of Bruce County In Ontario
Location of Bruce County In Ontario
Coordinates: 44°30′N 81°15′W / 44.500°N 81.250°W / 44.500; -81.250Coordinates: 44°30′N 81°15′W / 44.500°N 81.250°W / 44.500; -81.250
Country Canada
Province Ontario
County seatWalkerton, Ontario
 • WardenJanice Jackson
 • Chief Administrative OfficerSandra Datars Bere
 • Land3,978.76 km2 (1,536.21 sq mi)
 • Total66,491[1]
 • Density16.7/km2 (43/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
Primary Highways21, 9, and 6

Bruce County is a county in Southwestern Ontario, Canada comprising eight lower-tier municipalities and with a 2016 population of 66,491. It is named for James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin and 12th Earl of Kincardine, sixth Governor General of the Province of Canada. The Bruce name is also linked to the Bruce Trail and the Bruce Peninsula. It has three distinct areas. The Peninsula is part of the Niagara Escarpment and is known for its views, rock formations, cliffs, and hiking trails. The Lakeshore includes nearly 100 km of fresh water and soft sandy beaches. Finally, the Interior Region has a strong history in farming.


Bruce County comprises eight municipalities (in population order):

Municipality 2016 Population[3] Population Centres[4]
Town of Saugeen Shores 13,715 Port Elgin, Southampton
Municipality of Kincardine 11,389 Kincardine
Municipality of Brockton 9,461 Walkerton
Town of South Bruce Peninsula 8,416 Wiarton
Township of Huron-Kinloss 7,069 Lucknow
Municipality of Arran-Elderslie 6,803 Chesley, Paisley
Municipality of South Bruce 5,639 Mildmay
Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula 3,999 Lion's Head, Tobermory

Two First Nation communities are also included within the Bruce census division, but are separate from the county administration:


Territorial evolution[edit]

The territory of the County arose from various surrenders of First Nations lands:[5]

Municipal history[edit]

Huron County was organized in the Huron District in 1845,[6] and the District itself (which had been continued for judicial purposes) was abolished at the beginning of 1850.[7] Legislation passed later in the same session of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada provided instead for it to be reconstituted as the United Counties of Huron, Perth and Bruce, with the territory of the Bruce Peninsula withdrawn and annexed to Waterloo County.[8] The Bruce Peninsula was later withdrawn from Waterloo and transferred to Bruce in 1851.[9] The County of Perth was given its own Provisional Municipal Council at that time,[10] and was separated from the United Counties in 1853.[11]

In 1849, the Huron District Council initially united the area of the county with the United Townships of Wawanosh and Ashfield as a single municipality, which lasted until 1851 when Wawanosh and Ashfield were withdrawn.[12] The area then became known as the "United Townships in the County of Bruce", which lasted until its division into municipalities in 1854.[12]

Canada West in 1857. Bruce County is marked in light green.

A Provisional Municipal Council was established for Bruce County at the beginning of 1857,[13] Walkerton was initially proclaimed as the county seat, in preference to Kincardine,[14] but local opposition (including an abortive attempt to have the county divided into Bruce and Saugeen)[a] forced the proclamation to be deferred until each town and village had presented a case for its selection.[16] A subsequent proclamation confirmed Walkerton's selection.[14] In 1863, the provisional council promoted a bill in the Legislative Assembly to divide the county into the counties of Bruce and Wallace,[b] but it only went as far as second reading and did not proceed further.[17][18] The provisional council later asked for legislation to provide for a referendum as to whether Walkerton, Paisley, Kincardine or another place would be the most acceptable choice.[19] The referendum was held in September 1864, and Paisley received a plurality of the votes.[20] In early 1865, the provisional council asked for legislation to confirm the result, but changed its mind later in the year in favour of Walkerton.[21] Confirming legislation was passed in 1866 to provide for the dissolution of the United Counties on January 1, 1867, with Huron and Bruce becoming separate counties for all purposes.[22]

Indigenous issues[edit]

The Saugeen First Nation has offices near Southampton, Ontario. Parts of Bruce County (including reservations) are owned by the band.[23] In the areas around Sauble Beach and Southampton, some cottages are on land previously owned by a community or the county but now defined as part of the band's Native lands.[24] Years earlier, the Saugeen First Nation had successfully reclaimed the land that "runs south from the Sauble Beach sign toward Southampton, 18 kilometres away", according to one news report.[25] A lease relationship exists between the Saugeen First Nation and those who had built seasonal homes on most of the land in the lakeside area between urban Southampton and Sauble Beach. These cottagers pay an annual fee to the First Nation.[26] The current lease contract between the cottagers and the Saugeen First Nation is in effect until 30 April 2021.[27]

The Saugeen First Nation also owns and controls a large area of the beach (south portion) within the community of Sauble Beach, referred to as Sauble Park.[28][29]

In addition to the Sauble Park, the Saugeen First Nation claims the rights to another stretch of the public beach in the urban area, approximately 2 km long, west of Lakeshore Boulevard extending to a point between 1st St. South and 6th St. North. The matter has been in litigation since 1990 with the federal government backing the First Nation suit.[30]


Bruce County
2016[31], 2011[32], 2006[33], earlier[34]

Bruce County had a population of 68,147 based on the 2016 Canada census, representing a 3.1% growth since the 2011 census, lower than the provincial average of 4.6%. Residents of Bruce County are older and poorer than the Ontario average. Specifically, as of 2016, the median age of Bruce County is 48.5 years, much older than the Ontario median of 41.3. The median household income was $71,193 which is lower than the provincial average of $74,287.

Bruce County has basically no visible minorities, representing only 3% of the population compared to the provincial average of 29%, but has a relatively high aboriginal population representing 6% of the population, higher than the provincial average of 4%. Bruce County is also overwhelmingly English speaking, with 92% of the population having English as their mother tongue, but also has a German speaking population consisting of 3%.[31][c]


Map of Bruce County, on the Lake Huron shoreline of Ontario, Canada.[35]

The County of Bruce is governed by a council consisting of a warden and mayors of the area municipalities. County council meetings are held in the Bruce County Administration building in Walkerton, Ontario.

Economic Development[edit]

Business to Bruce[edit]

The function of the Business to Bruce Program is to support business development, business recruitment and business enhancement. This program focuses on "inspiring, attracting and supporting business owners and entrepreneurs by engaging and mobilizing the local business communities and municipalities while using County level resources to give the project reach and scale".[citation needed]

Explore the Bruce[edit]

Explore the Bruce, a tourism sub-brand of Bruce County, markets and promotes the area as a place to visit.

Explore the Bruce runs the annual Adventure Passport program. This program is a Bruce County-wide scavenger hunt that takes participants off the beaten track in Bruce County. It takes place from May 1 until October 31 each year and families, couples, and individuals of all ages can participate.[36] In 2015, the Adventure Passport program was presented with a Tourism Marketing Campaign Award at the Ontario Tourism Summit in Toronto.[37]

Spruce the Bruce[edit]

Spruce the Bruce supports local community efforts to facilitate long-term downtown revitalization plans, bringing together stakeholders to build community capacity and assist with strategic policy and capital investment.[citation needed] The program provides communities with the resources to develop strategies and implementation methods necessary to maintain and grow healthy commercial areas in association with the county and various partners.[citation needed]


Protected Areas[edit]

National Parks[edit]

Provincial Parks[edit]

Conservation Areas[edit]

Bruce County is home to a number of conservation areas with the jurisdiction of Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority and Grey Sauble Conservation Authority.

Endangered Species[edit]

Massasauga Rattlesnake

Hungerford's crawling water beetle

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Robertson, Norman (1906). The History of the County of Bruce, and of the minor municipalities therein. Toronto: William Briggs.


  1. ^ with Kincardine and Southampton contemplated as the respective county towns, and the proposed boundary being the Brant/Elderslie line, the 17th and 18th concessions of Greenock, and the 7th and 8th concessions of Bruce.[15]
  2. ^ with Kincardine and Southampton once more proposed as the respective county towns[17]
  3. ^ Figures are for the Bruce census division, which consists of Bruce County and two First Nations reserves.


  1. ^ Sum of Bruce County municipalities from 2016 Census Profile
  2. ^ "Bruce County census profile". 2011 Census of Population. Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2012-03-16.
  3. ^ Statistics Canada, Census Profile, 2016 Census: Ontario: Census subdivisions (municipalities)
  4. ^ Statistics Canada, Census Profile, 2016 Census: Ontario: Population centres
  5. ^ Surtees, R. (1984). Indian Land Surrenders in Ontario, 1763-1867 (PDF). Ottawa: Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. pp. 89–94, 100–105.
  6. ^ An Act for better defining the limits of the Counties and Districts in Upper Canada, for erecting certain new Townships, for detaching Townships from some Counties and attaching them to others, and for other purposes relative to the division of Upper Canada into Townships, Counties and Districts, S.C. 8 Vic., c. 7, s. 8
  7. ^ An Act for abolishing the Territorial Division of Upper-Canada into Districts, and for providing temporary Unions of Counties for Judicial and other purposes, and for the future dissolutions of such Unions, as the increase of wealth and population may require, S.Prov.C. 1849, c. 78, Sch. C
  8. ^ An Act to divide the District of Huron, in the Province of Canada, and for other purposes therein mentioned, S.Prov.C. 1849, c. 96
  9. ^ An Act to make certain alterations in the Territorial Divisions of Upper Canada, S.Prov.C. 1851, c. 5, Sch. A, par. 29
  10. ^ S.Prov.C. 1849, c. 96, s. 3
  11. ^ An Act to authorize to Governor General to issue a Proclamation to declare the County of Perth to be separated from the United Counties of Huron, Perth and Bruce, and for other purposes therein mentioned, S.Prov.C. 1852, c. 31
  12. ^ a b Robertson 1906, p. 104.
  13. ^ An Act to separate the County of Bruce from the County of Huron, S.Prov.C. 1856, c. 19
  14. ^ a b Robertson 1906, p. 92.
  15. ^ Robertson 1906, pp. 93-94.
  16. ^ An Act to provide for the selection of a County Town for the County of Bruce, S.Prov.C. 1856, c. 111
  17. ^ a b Robertson 1906, p. 95.
  18. ^ Bill 292, 2nd Session, 7th Parliament (1863)
  19. ^ An Act to avoid the Proclamation declaring Walkerton the County Town of the County of Bruce, and to enable the Municipal Electors of the said County to select a County Town, S.Prov.C. 1864, c. 77
  20. ^ Robertson 1906, p. 99.
  21. ^ Robertson 1906, p. 101.
  22. ^ "Proclamation". Canada Gazette. 25 (48): 4606. December 1, 1866., implementing An Act to facilitate the separation of Huron and Bruce, and to appoint Walkerton the County Town of the County of Bruce, S.Prov.C. 1865, c. 66
  23. ^, Saugeen Land Management
  24. ^, Saugeen Land Management
  25. ^, Sauble Beach is changing but it is still a place for family
  26. ^, Let us back into our cottages
  27. ^, Saugeen Cottager’s Organization Incorporated
  28. ^, Sauble Park
  29. ^, Parking changes this summer at Sauble Beach
  30. ^ "Saugeen First Nation seeks court ruling on century-old boundary dispute in Sauble Beach". CBC News. 7 August 2019. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  31. ^ a b "2016 Community Profiles". 2016 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. February 21, 2017.
  32. ^ "2011 Community Profiles". 2011 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. July 5, 2013.
  33. ^ "2006 Community Profiles". 2006 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. March 30, 2011.
  34. ^ "2001 Community Profiles". 2001 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. February 17, 2012.
  35. ^ "Bruce County Maps". Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  36. ^ "Explore the Bruce Adventure Passport launched | Kincardine News". Archived from the original on 2016-06-24. Retrieved 2016-05-31.
  37. ^ "Bruce County Wins Tourism Marketing Award". Blackburn News, By John Chippa November 13, 2015
  38. ^ "Bruce County Maps". Retrieved 7 July 2018.

External links[edit]