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Unique Rural History



Our History takes you back to the late 1700s, a time of rapid change in North America's political landscape.

As early as 1787, soldiers and loyalists were settling on farm lots running inland from Lake Erie. During the 1800s, fugitive slaves and European settlers carried on the pioneer spirit by building small communities throughout Colchester Township. Villages that endure today arose at Colchester, Harrow, McGregor and Essex Centre.

Start your journey through time in Essex Centre at the historic Essex Railway Station. This is not just any train station. It's a train station with an explosive past!


Essex Railway Station

Essex Railway Station

The natural gas explosion that literally shook people out of bed on Valentine's Day 1980, as well as the boxcar explosion that occurred just feet away from the station on a hot August morning in 1907. The station has been fully restored by Heritage Essex and is home to a variety of railway memorabilia,  photographs and historical artifacts.

Over a thousand names have been added to the surrounding Honour Wall dedicated to the men and women who served with the Royal Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War Two.






Our town has many stories to tell. From explosions to inventions, the town has faced many challenges and triumphs. The Arts, Culture and Tourism (ACT) Committee, formerly the Mural Committee, maintains our inventory of outdoor murals, which include large scale murals and Bell Box murals. The history of the area and its landscape are portrayed in the murals and can be found throughout Essex Centre and Harrow. Grab an Essex Mural brochure when you're at the train station and see if you can spot all 13 large scale murals and 8 Bell Box murals!


black old model x car

Canadian Transportation Museum and Heritage Village

Drive on down Arner Townline until you reach the Canadian Transportation Museum and Heritage Village. Inside, learn about this region's automotive history as you check out some of the rarest and most unique vehicles ever made. Outside, take a walk through Heritage Village which showcases 20 historic buildings dating from 1820 to 1930. Grab a bite at the 50's style diner inside the museum before you continue your journey south.





John R Park

John R. Park Homestead

Continue down the Arner Townline to County Road 50 and your final stop at John R. Park Homestead. Built in 1842 on the banks of Lake Erie, the magnificent Classical Revival home of John and Amelia Park has been fully restored. Costumed guides welcome visitors all year round. Taste baking from the kitchen fireplace or play with a wooden toy in the children's bedrooms. Witness the workings of an 1885 steam engine powered sawmill and stop by the blacksmith shop to see what's happening today at the coal-fired forge. End your tour with a scenic walk on the lakeshore boardwalk




Find out more about heritage properties on the Town of Essex Heritage Tour page. Heritage plaques have been installed at key locations to help broaden public knowledge surrounding the historical and cultural resources within the municipality.

Find out more about our unique history and cultural identity by visiting more of our local museums or historical societies.

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