WDEL Blog: Eclectic Hobbies with Allan Loudell

Welcome to Delaware --- in Canada

A few days ago - driving in the Canadian province of Ontario - I happened to notice that the town of Delaware was not far off the highway from London, Ontario.

I was aware of Delaware, Ontario's existence, but didn't know its location.

So I turned off the highway and headed for Delaware.

The sign entering the town simply said "Delaware", and before long, I came upon the Delaware post office of Canada Post inside a small variety store (reminding me of the little U.S. Postal Service window at the little store in Red Lion leading to Lums Pond State Park).

But in the case of Canada Post's Delaware post office, a more elaborate sign could be seen outside...

Here was that variety store (with my car - displaying a Delaware seashore license plate - parked in front of it)...

And the fire station in Delaware, Ontario...

From my research, Delaware, Ontario, Canada got it name from the tribe of native Canadians "First Nations", but that, in turn, connects to the Delaware Indians (Lenni-Lenape) south of the border, and that name (from outsiders) goes back to Lord De La Warr. A unifying theme between Delaware, Ontario, and the First State!

And, it wasn't settlers from Britain, but Americans, who settled the village of Delaware. Some were United Empire Loyalists who had battled for the Crown during the American Revolutionary War. Delaware was a rugged frontier town in those days.

Then came the War of 1812 which cemented the British stranglehold on southwestern Ontario, which some Americans thought should be part of the United States. Any remaining pro-U.S. sentiment in Delaware was temporarily extinguished. Just as the American Civil War split families in Virginia, the War of 1812 divided families in Delaware, Ontario. (U.S. settlers had settled in the region, taking advantage of an offer of inexpensive land, and easily dominating the original United Empire Loyalists.) The residence of Delaware town clerk Joseph Kilbourn went up in flames, and some early Delaware historic records went up in smoke. Later, some activists from the Delaware area - temporarily in the U.S. - started their own Patriot War in 1838, declaring their own provisional "Republic of Canada" and establishing a Republican Bank of Canada. A raid on Windsor, Ontario, led to trials and hangings... and some banished to Australia. Those conflicts - which most people south of the border never learn about - led directly to the proclamation of the British North American Act, establishing the dominion of Canada in 1867.

And modern-day Delaware, Ontario, has stock car racing -- on Delaware Speedway, one of Canada's oldest racetracks. Also, a reconstructed Iroquoian settlement.

Posted at 3:02pm on July 29, 2014 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Thu, Jul 31, 2014 4:17pm
I've driven that area - I presume you are referring to King's Highway - many times and never noticed the town of Delaware. I'll definitely look for it the next time I'm in the area.

Thanks for the history lesson.

As an aside, how do the Canadians in Delaware refer to themselves? Years ago when the TV show "Taxi" was running, they aired a show with a Delaware story line. Jim - the spaced out former Harvard man turned taxi driver - was enthralled watching the Delaware Legislature debate whether people from Delaware should be referred to as "Delaweenians" or "Delawareans." His assessment was that the "Delaweenians" has the upper hand. In this Delaware, we know how the argument turned out. We know locally we refer to ourselves as Delawareans. Given the Canadian love/hate with the U.S., I expect that in Delaware. Ontario, they refer to themselves are Delaweenians.

Mike from Delaware
Sat, Aug 2, 2014 9:09am
Interesting history Allan, thanks !

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