In 1999, as part of a reorganization of Essex County, unique features of three historic communities – the former Town of Tecumseh, the former Village of St. Clair Beach, and the former Township of Sandwich South were amalgamated into the new Town of Tecumseh. The new Town of Tecumseh offers residents attractive neighbourhoods, a thriving business and commercial sector, a healthy agricultural community, and a number of recreational alternatives.
From a small settlement of three families in 1792, Tecumseh, then known as Ryegate, has become a prosperous and flourishing community. In 1912 Ryegate was renamed Tecumseh in honour of Tecumseh, a Shawnee Warrior who was killed at battle in the War of 1812. The creation of Tecumseh Road in 1838 and the establishment of the Great Western Railway opened up the area for settlement. The town became an important railway depot and stopover for travellers. County residents took horse and buggy into Tecumseh and then transferred onto the train, journeying by rail the rest of the way into Windsor. Several popular hotels were started in Tecumseh to accommodate travellers. The Bedell Hotel, the Soulliere Inn, the Hebert and the Hotel Perreault were some of the places most frequented by travellers and locals alike.
The French were for the most part the original settlers of Tecumseh, the majority of them descendants of the Frenchmen who had established their seigneural land holdings along the banks of the river in the 1700's.
As the Town of Windsor grew, Tecumseh began to experience new blood when the overflow of immigrants coming to the city began to settle in the peripheral regions as well. Indicative of the change was the mix-up created by the introduction of the tomato to the area of Tecumseh. Many of the English residents of the community refused to touch the suspicious red vegetable believing it to be a "Love Potion"concocted by the amorous Frenchmen. The first post office was located on the northeast corner of Tecumseh and Lesperance and was operated by a Mr. Christie. Some of the first businesses in Tecumseh included a lumber mill operated by J.B.Cada; a grocery store operated by Arthur Cecile; a cheese factory on Banwell Road operated by Joseph Breault; a bakery owned by John Dugell; three butcher shops ; a canning factory and a brewery eventually closed under Carling Company.In 1921 it was felt that Tecumseh was not getting its fair share of improvements in proportion to the taxes paid to the municipality of Sandwich East. A group of people headed by Malcolm Clapp petitioned the legislature to separate from the township and incorporate as the Town of Tecumseh with a population of 978. Dr. Paul Poisson was appointed as the first mayor of the town. The real growth in Tecumseh occurred in 1931 with the establishment of the Green Giant Factory as Fine Foods of Canada. Green Giant (now Carriere) is still located in Tecumseh and continues to employ full and part time workers.
As the population grew, so did the demands for services. The Ontario Provincial Police started policing the Town in 1948 with 2 officers. In 1922 a fire chief was appointed although no fire department was in existence, the fires were fought by town volunteers.
St. Clair Beach
The Village of St. Clair Beach was incorporated in 1914. The village covered an area of 1.33 square miles or 773 acres. The lands which comprised St. Clair Beach were contained in the Township of Maidstone which was divided into parcels settled by the Champagne, Cada, and Grant families. The Champagne farm covered the southwest portion of the village, the Cada farm the northeast, and the Grant farm the northwest. Descendents of these families still reside in the former village today.
The first council of St. Clair Beach consisted of the following members:
|Mr. John H. Coburn||Clerk|
|Colonel Sidney C. Robinson||First Treasurer|
|Mr. John Cada||Reeve|
|Mr. Frank E. Fisher||Councillor|
|Mr. Sidney C. Robinson||Councillor|
|Mr. Charles W. Hoare||Councillor|
|Mr. Eugene Janisse||Councillor|
In 1861 the Township of Sandwich, which had incorporated all of the area within this township, was divided into Sandwich East and Sandwich West. In 1893, Sandwich East was further subdivided and Sandwich South was created. In 1966 Sandwich East was once again subdivided, and this time disappeared, being annexed into both the City of Windsor, and the Township of Sandwich South.
In 1893 Sandwich South was incorporated as a township and a first council was elected. The first reeve of Sandwich South was Abraham Cole, born on April 11, 1845. He was the son of Charles Cole, an Irish immigrant who had arrived in Canada in 1820, and who had settled in the Sandwich South area in 1830. Mr. Cole Jr. remained the reeve of our township until 1906, and in 1896, was also elected as Warden of Essex County. Previously, Mr. Cole had been auditor and tax collector for Sandwich, as well as being a county councillor for 12 years. The reeve died in 1928 at the age of 83.
The first council of Sandwich South consisted of the following members:
|Mr. John Moynahan||Clerk|
|Mr. James McAuliffe||First Treasurer|
|Mr. Edward Mooney||Councillor|
|Mr. Charles McGuigan||Councillor|
|Mr. John Greaves||Councillor|
|Mr. Edward J. O'Neil||Councillor|
|Mr. Abraham Cole||Reeve|
The first council meetings for the township of Sandwich South were held in, all of places, the bar of a hotel. The hotel was that owned and resided in by Mr. Michael McCarthy of Oldcastle, and was located directly across from the site of the old township hall on Talbot Road (Highway #3). Meetings continued here for three years until a Mr. Hon Wrotley was awarded the contract to build a new township hall for $640.00 on land donated by Mr. And Mrs. Robert Sylvester. The new red brick hall was replaced by yet another red brick structure built this time, by Morand and Russette for $3,038.28, in the spring of 1927. Thus the 'old' township hall, as we know it, was opened on August 5th, 1927.
In 1964 the Sandwich South township Municipal Garage was built behind the old municipal hall to house future fire department trucks. In 1965 offices were built adjoining the 'garage' and the municipal administration moved into the new headquarters, thus leaving the old township hall abandoned. The old hall was eventually used as a library and an antique store, before finally being torn down on February 21, 1980, to make way for Highway #3 road expansion plans which never materialized. It was an unfortunate loss of a significant historical landmark. A time capsule and plaque mark the location of this building adjacent to the E.R.C.A. greenway pavilion. The time capsule is to be opened in 2043.
The fourth and final home of the township municipal offices was situated in the building which was once the Frith Public School (SS No. 11) located on North Talbot Road, just east of Walker Road, over the Chesapeake and Ohio tracks. The official opening for these offices took place on March 18th, 1972. These offices were closed permanently on December 31, 1998 due to amalgamation.