Old Sandwich Town
Old Sandwich Town (Olde Sandwich Towne) is located along the Canada–US border of the Detroit River, and was established in 1797. It is considered one of the oldest, most historically significant settlements in Ontario and has been the site of several historically significant events in Ontario's history. Many historic buildings remain in Old Sandwich Town and the area hosts an annual festival to celebrate its heritage. The area is now a neighbourhood of the city of Windsor.
The area was initially inhabited by various Aboriginal nations including the Chippewas, Ottawas, Potowatomis and Wyandots. In the year 1747, the first Jesuit Mission in all of Upper Canada was established in the area. Sandwich was essentially formed as a result of Detroit’s independence from Great Britain, which was achieved in 1796. The consequence to this achievement was a mass movement of Loyalists south of the Detroit River, to the Sandwich area. By 1797, this land was purchased “…from the Huron Indians for about 300 pounds worth of supplies…”. In 1858, Sandwich was properly acknowledged with “town” status. In 1935, Old Sandwich Town was amalgamated with East Windsor, Windsor, and Walkerville to formulate the city of Windsor, Ontario.
Sandwich has also played host to some considerably meaningful events, such as the beginning of the War of 1812, which also brought various influential military figures to Old Sandwich Town, such as; Chief Tecumseh, General Isaac Brock of the British Army, and Generals Henry Procter and Harrison of the United States. Sandwich also saw action during the Upper Canada Rebellion in 1837-1838; which pitted Sandwich and Windsor as likely targets for rebellion, and invasion from the United States. The Battle of Windsor commenced during December 1838, which confirmed suspicions of American invasion, as hundreds of “Patriots” stormed the Canadian frontier of the Detroit River, until they were thwarted by militia in Sandwich. It is evident that Sandwich is historically significant for many reasons.
Historic buildings and notable residents
Old Sandwich Town is home to some of Ontario’s oldest and most historically important buildings, such as Mackenzie Hall, and the Duff-Baby Mansion; of which, the latter is considered to be the oldest structure in all of Ontario. Not only is Sandwich home to historically significant buildings, but it has also been a dwelling place for some symbolic Canadian figures. Some of these figures include Alexander Mackenzie, the second Prime Minister of Canada; and Henry Bibb, a fugitive slave who initiated the first Afro-Canadian newspaper. In fact, Sandwich and the surrounding area became an established black settlement, where thousands of freed and fugitive slaves took refuge from slavery in the United States.
Olde Sandwich Towne Festival
Old Sandwich Town holds a strong historical presence, as many of its buildings are still standing. There is an annual “Olde Sandwich Towne Festival”, which has been celebrated for nearly 20 years. This festival commemorates the historically rich and unique area of Sandwich, through various events such as a re-enactment of the Underground Railroad, various tours throughout the community, a parade, and open houses for the local jail, as well as the Duff Baby House.
- Windsor Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee (WACAC). Historic Sandwich Town: Walk through Ontario’s oldest, continuous European settlement: a field study. (Windsor, Ontario: University of Windsor, Faculty of Education, 1987)
- Morgan, Carl. Birth of a City. (Tecumseh, Ontario: TraveLife, 1991)
- Windsor Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee (WACAC). Historic Sandwich: Welcome to Ontario’s oldest, continuous European settlement 1797. (Windsor, Ontario: Windsor Architectural Advisory Committee, 1990).
- Neal, Frederick. Township of Sandwich: Past and Present. (Windsor, Ontario: The Essex County Historical Association and The Windsor Public Library Board, 1979).
- Olde Sandwich Towne Festival: Home Page Archived September 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
- Olde Sandwich Towne Festival: Events Page[dead link]