REFUGE FOR TOURISTS
Dubbed as the “Place of Refuge”, Chatham-Kent has been through many tough times in the past. For tourists, the city welcomes you with its rich history and commercial progress. This city will never bore you because each moment will be an adventure.
HOW IT BEGAN
In 1793, Sir John Graves Simcoe set foot on Chatham-Kent. He wanted the place to become an agricultural Center where he can also build settlements joined by roads and water systems. Although he had an influential person by his side (Sally Ainse, an Oneida princess and diplomat), Simcoe was not able to fulfill his dreams. He had to leave the place in 1796 because of an illness. However, he made a legislation preventing the slavery of the locals. Simcoe came to North America with an aide named Thomas Talbot. Talbot received a piece of land in Southern Ontario when he retired and he decided to become a land agent. Because he had worked with Simcoe, he knew of the former’s plan. Talbot had managed to build the settlement and roads. The Talbot road was impressive but an undeveloped “Ten Mile Bush” remained for years. During the War of 1812, the Scottish settlers led by Lord Selkirk had to move out of the swamp and took refuge at Chatham-Kent. Many died from swamp fever and malaria. This place was called Baldoon. Along the settlers came the slaves who escaped from the United States. Chatham-Kent became their home away from slavery. The Blacks also took refuge here. Oil was also found in Chatham-Kent (by Simcoe in 1792) and not until the 1850s that the oil supply was marketed through Bothwell. The town grew fast and establishments were built. However, after the American Civil War, the oil price had dropped and many of the establishments were consumed by fire.
Chatham-Kent was indeed a place of refuge for the first settlers and slaves. It has stood as a town where people can start all over again and create a place where they can be safe and free.
YOU MIGHT WANT TO CHECK OUT...
╣various birdwatching hotspots in Chatham-Kent. The municipality is blessed with luscious greenery and wildlife. You can go bird watching several hotspots including the Rondeau and Wheatley Provincial Parks, the Blenheim Lagoon and the St. Clair National Wildlife Area.
╣the Rondeau Park. It is home to the endangered animal, Prothonotary Warbler. It is also the second oldest provincial park. Admission from April to October ranges from $8.00 to $16.00 per person, $107.50 for a regular bus permit, $86.00 for an Ontario Senior Bus Permit and $53.75 for an Ontario Disabled Bus Permit and School Bus Permit. The admission from November to March is slightly lower at $5.25 to $10.75. The bus permits are the same. Aside from bird watching, you can also do outdoor activities like skiing, canoeing and hiking. Camping is allowed from April to October.
╣the Wheatley Park. It is the best place to see waterfowls. If you are lucky, you might spot some Little Blue Heron or Mississippi Kites. The park includes facilities for camping (electric campsites), playground and park store. You can also enjoy outdoor activities like fishing, swimming and boating. Camping fees range from $19.75 to $46.50 for the premium accommodation, $18.00 to $42.75 for the middle-level accommodation and $15.25 to $37.25 for the low-level accommodation. Other parks include the St. Clair Park; it is the place to have a relaxing moment with nature. It is also near a French community.
╣War of 1812 memorial sites. One of the significant periods relevant to Chatham-Kent was the war of 1812. A monument, museum and a natural historic site was built to commemorate this event. You can book for a guided tour where you can revisit the places linked to Chief Tecumseh leading to the 1813 Battle of the Thames. The tour stops at momentous sites, which include the Tecumseh Park, historic site of the Battle of the Thames, Fairfield Museum and the National Historic Site.
╣outdoor touring Chatham-Kent style. If you find simply riding the tour bus a boring way to spend your vacation, you should try this out. You can choose to ride the motorcycle and feel free as you travel across awesome scenery like the Lake Eerie, Lake St. Clair and Thames River. You can also catch the Underground Railroad and learn from every stop the tour offers. When you tour through the Underground Railroad, you can visit the Buxton National Historic Site and Museum, which houses original structures from the early century Buxton. You can also tour old schoolhouses, log cabins, churches and cemetery. You can also visit Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site, which displays the life of an important person, Rev. Josiah Henson.
╣the Chatham-Kent Museum. It has welcomed locals and visitors for more than six decades. The museum is home to artifacts, which are relevant to the city’s history and prosperity. It displays 2-D and 3-D objet d’art, science specimens, artifacts from the War of 1812, Gray Dort automobile, and the famous mummy. The museum’s main floor features the “Horse Power” exhibit, which was created to share the history of automobile manufacturing in Chatham-Kent. The museum also holds relevant archives and photographs that are mainly used by many researchers and students. The museum’s famous “mummy” was donated by the Sulmans, George and Mary Agnes, who traveled the world and brought back the mummy as a souvenir. Their son, C.D., was involved in the establishment of the museum and the family decided to donate their “souvenir”. The family was led to believe that the mummy was that of an Egyptian princess. However, this seems to be false on closer examination. The mummy was a Nubian female, about 2,200 years old. The Gray Dort is another Chatham-Kent pride. The 1919 Gray Dort Model 11 Touring served as a reminder (or perhaps, an inspiration) how the North Americans began to utilize gasoline engines for transportation. The Chatham-Kent Museum is located at 75 William Street North Chatham. They accept donations.
╣the Thames Art Gallery. The Gallery houses visual arts for many to see. They are dedicated to educating people about understanding, appreciating and conserving public arts. Collections include works from visual artists, both historical and contemporary, that portray relevance to Chatham-Kent’s past and present. It is home to around 500 paintings, photographs, drawings, and sculptures. The gallery is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm, Monday to Friday. Admission is free.
TOURISTS SHOULD KNOW
You can take the VIA Rail Train to Chatham-Kent and the station is at 360 Queen Street, Chatham. The Station is open from Monday to Sunday. You can also get to the city by the Greyhound Bus Service.
Chatham-Kent is a city you can tour all day without doing anything twice. You can choose from going to historical places, touring the city riding the motorcycle, swimming and canoeing and other fun stuff. Chatham-Kent was once a place of refuge, but now, it is a place of learning, fun and relaxation!