Cobourg, Ont, incorporated as a town in 1837, population 18 519 (2011c), 18 210 (2006c). The Town of Cobourg is located on north shore of Lake Ontario, 112 km east of Toronto. Founded as a loyalist settlement 1798 by Eluid Nickerson, Joseph Ash and Asa Burnham, it was originally called Amherst but was renamed Cobourg (1819), in honour of the marriage of Princess Charlotte to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Cobourg.
By 1817-18 more settlers began to arrive, many of them half-pay officers and retired North West Co traders. By the 1830s Cobourg emerged as an important regional centre possessing a fine harbour and a populated hinterland. It received a further boost (1842) when Victoria College, established in 1835 by the Wesleyan Conference, was granted powers to confer degrees; the college remained in Cobourg until 1892. Meanwhile, civic leaders hired a prominent architect, Kivas Tully, to design an ornate town hall. Victoria Hall, completed 1860, survives as one of the most magnificent mid-Victorian structures in Ontario; a courtroom is a replica of London's Old Bailey.
In the 1850s, Cobourg citizens also financed construction of the Cobourg and Peterborough Ry, an ambitious enterprise designed to "capture" the hinterland. But the railway proved a failure, partly because of a tenuous bridge across Rice Lk, almost bankrupting the town in the 1860s. By the 1870s, however, wealthy Pittsburgh steel barons became interested in the railway and Marmora iron mines, which they later bought. Up to the stock market crash wealthy Americans built palatial summer homes in the area, making Cobourg one of the most fashionable summer colonies in the continent. After 1870, population showed little growth until after WWII. Today, it contains over 60 industrial firms (particularly plastics and food processing manufacturers) and is also a tourist centre.