Brantford, ON, incorporated as a city in 1877, population 93 650 (2011c), 90 192 (2006c).

Brantford, ON, incorporated as a city in 1877, population 93 650 (2011c), 90 192 (2006c). The City of Brantford is located on the Grand River, 104 km southwest of Toronto. Originally inhabited by the Neutral, the surrounding area was part of a large land grant of the British government in 1784 to the Six Nations in gratitude for their loyalty during the American War of Independence and in compensation for the loss of their land in the Mohawk Valley (see Iroquois). In 1825 the centre of the settlement was named Brant's Ford after Mohawk leader Joseph Brant.

Brant, Joseph
William Berczy, circa 1807, oil on canvas (courtesy NGC/5777).

European settlers began arriving in 1805 and were welcomed by the Six Nations, who surrendered title to the townsite in 1830 and moved to reserve lands across the river. With the arrival of the railway in 1856, Brantford became the distribution centre of a rich agricultural area. In the 20th century manufacturing flourished and continues to drive the economy. Brantford is also noted for being an educational centre, with Mohawk College, a campus of Wilfrid Laurier University, and W. Ross Macdonald School for the Blind (opened in 1872).

The city is the site of the oldest Protestant church in Ontario, St Paul's, Her Majesty's Chapel of the Mohawks, built in 1785 with a grant from George III; Joseph Brant and his son are buried in the churchyard. Brantford is referred to as Telephone City because it is here that Alexander Graham Bell worked on the invention of the telephone at his home and in August 1876 made the first long distance call to Paris, Ont, 11 km away. The Bell Homestead, a national historic site designated in 1997, includes Bell's restored residence and Henderson House - the first telephone office in Canada. The Woodland Cultural Centre traces the history and culture of the Six Nations while Kanata Village is a living museum of a 17th-century Iroquoian village. Well-known personalities associated with Brantford include painter Robert Whale, manufacturer Alanson Harris, Ontario premier Arthur Hardy and hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky.

Alexander Graham Bell, inventor, home in Brantford
Alexander Bell and party at the home of the telephone, 1906, Brantford, Ontario (courtesy British Library).

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