Dresden, Ont, urban area, population 2446 (2011c), 2496 (2006c). Dresden is a community located in southwestern Ontario on the Sydenham River. It had the status of town for over 100 years (incorporated 1882) until it was merged into the new municipality of Chatham-Kent (1998). Dresden was founded in 1825 by a lumber merchant and named after the German city. It grew slowly as a lumber centre until the 1860s, when there was an influx of settlers onto the cleared land. By 1872 it reached a sufficient size to be incorporated as a village and 10 years later received town status. With the trees cut down the town evolved into a local agricultural service centre. Today the 2 largest industries are the manufacture of automotive parts and food processing, which utilizes the local tomato harvest.
In 1841 Reverend Josiah Henson, a former slave from the US, helped establish the British American Institute, a vocational school and refuge for fugitives from slavery. Henson is reputed to have been the model for Uncle Tom in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852). His 2-storey house, built around 1842, is now part of the Uncle Tom's Cabin historic site in Dresden.