Leamington is a municipality in Essex County, Ontario, Canada. With a population of 28,403, it is the second largest municipality in the Windsor-Essex County area (after the separated municipality of Windsor, Ontario). It includes Point Pelee, the southernmost point of mainland Canada. It has a large H. J. Heinz Company factory and is known as the “Tomato Capital of Canada”, with 4 km² of this crop in the vicinity. It also lays claim to being the “Sun Parlour” of Canada due to its southern location.
Leamington was incorporated as a village in 1876. It was a crossroads hamlet with about 300 residents and was known for its lumber products rather than its tomatoes. There were several docks, and fish were plentiful in Lake Erie, so much so that sturgeon could be speared from the shore and fish was the cheapest food available. Leamington once had many tobacco farms but now they are virtually nonexistent. In 1908 the H. J. Heinz company came to Leamington, bringing many jobs to the area and contributing to Leamington’s growth.
Leamington enjoys the second warmest climate in Canada, after the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Leamington lies on the 42nd Parallel, the same latitude as Chicago, Rome, the northern border of California, and Zaragoza. Leamington is situated on the north shore of Lake Erie and is home to Point Pelee National Park, a major site for migrating birds especially in the autumn. As such, it plays host to many birdwatchers from Canada, the United States and from all around the world. The region is also known for the migration of Monarch butterflies, which congregate in the fall at Point Pelee before making their way across Lake Erie on their route to winter quarters in central Mexico. Another important natural area near Leamington is the wetland at Hillman Marsh, located six kilometres east of the town.
Leamington has been known for its tourism and attractions and is known as the tomato capital of Canada. Leamington’s attractions include bicycle paths and nearby Point Pelee National Park. Leamington also has a large and modern marina. The town’s water tower, visible for miles in the flat southern Ontario landscape, is also in the shape and colour of a giant tomato. Celebrating its position as an agricultural powerhouse and its heritage as the H. J. Heinz Company’s center for processing “red goods,” the city hosts a “Tomato Festival” each August, as a kickoff of the tomato-harvesting season. Car shows, beauty pageants, parades, and a fair are featured at the festival.
Leamington’s position on the north shore of Lake Erie makes it an important recreational centre. The tourist information booth in the centre of town is a large fiberglass tomato. Leamington has several parks including Seacliff Park, The Marina Park, Mersea Park and Garrison Gardens,Henry Park and Chestnut Park.
Leamington has a variety of transportation. It has a bicycle path going from the middle of town to the Marina, previously the rail line for Heinz. Leamington has two ferries, the (M/V Jiimaan and M/V Pelee Islander) owned by the Owen Sound Transportation Company run on a regularly scheduled seasonal basis from Leamington to Pelee Island. Transportation around Leamington is offered by the Leamington Transit bus system. Leamington has a small private airport located four kilometres to the east of town. The town is also connected to the provincial highway network by Highway 3 (to Windsor), and Highway 77 (to Highway 401).
Leamington In media
- Aspects of the fictional town of Port Ticonderoga in The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (including street names, demographics and a store name) appear to have been derived from Leamington. Atwood is a part-time resident of Pelee Island, which is accessed by ferry from Leamington.
- The fictional town of the Sun Parlour in the book Lives of the Saints by Nino Ricci is based on Leamington.
- The book Splat! By Eric Walters takes place in Leamington at the tomato festival.
- Stompin’ Tom Connors mentions Leamington in his tune The Ketchup Song
- David Letterman referred to Leamington as the tomato capital of Canada in a monologue in July 2009.
Notable people from Leamington
- Major league pitcher Bob Hooper and infielder Danny Klassen.
- NHL players Brad Selwood, Pat Ribble, Randy Manery, Darren McCarty, Kirk Bowman
- Environmentalist David Suzuki
- Authors Bill Sherk, Nino Ricci, Jean Brown, Lynsay Sands, Vesna Bailey,
- Sandra Campbell, Miss Dominion of Canada 1974, represented Canada in Miss Universe and Miss World beauty pageants.
- Musician Jody Raffoul
- Wally Tatomir the equipment manager for the Carolina Hurricanes of the NHL
- CBC Radio 3 personality Lana Gay
- Arena Football League Defensive Back Corey Petryschuk
- Actor Jeff Hammond
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