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Municipality of Chatham-Kent

Some basic information about Chatham-Kent:

Population:The Municipality of Chatham-Kent has a population of 110,000. Outside of its largest community, Chatham, which has a population of 43,500, the muncipality is largely rural, with small towns interspersed between large areas of agricultural land.

Location:Chatham-Kent is located in the southernmost region of both Ontario and Canada, on the shores of Lake St.Clair and Lake Erie. In relation to other major area cities, Chatham-Kent is located at a distance of:

Chatham-Kent's precise geographic location is at the coordinates of 42 degrees north latitude and 82 degrees west of Greenwich longitude.

Communities:The Municipality of Chatham-Kent is composed of 9 major communities and the surrounding rural areas which were amalgamated toghether by provincial edict on January 1st, 1998. The following are the major communities of Chatham-Kent, with their respective populations as of 1994.


Topography:Chatham-Kent is predominantly flat, with the elevation rising slightly as one ventures towards the northeastern portion of the municipality. Agricultural land dominates, on which the predominant crop is corn. Small sections of Carolinan forest remain in protected areas, while sections of marshland remain along the shores of Lake St. Clair.

Climate:Chatham-Kent boasts one of the most temperate climates in Canada, surpassed only by coastal regions of British Columbia. Winters are cool to mild, with snow rarely staying on the ground in excess of one week, while summers are hot and humid, with temperatures in excess of 35 degrees not being uncommon.

Origin of the name "Chatham-Kent" The name Chatham was chosen for the community upon its founding in honour of William Pitt, the earl of Chatham, England. Kent's namesake is a county along the Thames River in England, downstream from London, just as Chatham-Kent is a municpality along the Thames river in Ontario, downstream from London, Ontario. These facts belie the English heritage of the region.

Some more detailed information about Chatham-Kent:

Political System: As with all Ontario municipalities, ultimate control lies in the hands of the provincial government, in particular the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. Despite this, there is a local municipal governement that has effective power to govern its own affairs. In Chatham-Kent, this government is composed of a mayor, and seventeen councillors who represent the six wards or regions of Chatham-Kent. At this present time, the mayor of Chatham is Bill Erickson. Council meets in the unofficial capital of Chatham-Kent, in Chatham, Ontario.

History: Chatham-Kent has a rich cultural heritage that extends back over two hundred years, to its original founding by Sir John Graves Simcoe in 1793 as a military post. During the War of 1812, the area that is now Chatham-Kent saw much in the way of combat between the British and the Americans. Portions of the region were invaded by the Americans, and several key battles of the war were fought in Chatham-Kent. Over the course of an 1813 battle in the region, Tecumseh, the great Shawnee Indian chief lost his life.

Following the war of 1812, Chatham prospered as an important shipbuilding, industrial and agricultural region. By the time of its incorporation as a town in 1855, Chatham boasted many stores and businesses. At this time, the settlement had also served as the northern terminus of the underground railroad which had brought slaves from the southern states of the U.S to freedom.

In the post-American civil war period, Chatham prospered as a result of its strong manufacturing-based economy. This became evident through the incorporation of Chatham as a city that came in 1895. Chatham continued to grow into the early 20th century, with the proliferation of industry, including some of the first automobile production facilities in Canada. World War I, the great depression and World War II effectively halted economic growth, yet in the post war period Chatham experienced a sustained growth, which continues to this day.

Though Chatham, like other municipalities, effecitively manages its own affairs, ultimate control and funding is derived from the province. This became evident in the late 1990's, as the province was undergoing a campaign of restructring in order to improve its effeciency and eliminate the fisical mismanagement that had plagued the province during the previous two decades. Municpalities were not immune to this programme of restructuring, as they were faced with pressure by the provincial governement to amalgamate in order to reduce administration costs. Chatham and the municipalities of Kent County were no exception to this rule, as they too were under pressure to amalgamate or face cutbacks. After a considerable period of discussion, the municpalities of Chatham-Kent were unable to come up with a solution in which they were all in agreement with. Therefore, it became necessary for a provincial commisioner to end this impasse and impose an amalgamation plan. After careful consideration, the provincial commisioner formulated a plan to amalgamate the 22 consituent municipalities of Kent County and the City of Chatham into one municipality, Chatham-Kent. With this provinical edict, the new municpality of Chatham-Kent was founded on January 1st, 1998. At this present time, the process of restructuring the former municipalities into the municipality of Chatham-Kent are nearing completion.

But this isn't the end of the story. There's still resistance to the idea of an amalgamated municipality. Let's hear it for the rebels in Highgate!

For more information about Chatham-Kent, contact:

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Last Updated: March 7th, 1999 by Michael Sullivan.