The History of Essex – Plus Other Fun Things to Do

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August 31, 2017
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September 7, 2017

The History of Essex – Plus Other Fun Things to Do

Having experienced two damaging explosions and the burning of its once-proud tollgates, nobody can say that Essex has had a dull history. Shoppers and visitors can immerse themselves in the area’s rich past by visiting local museums or by taking a self-guided walking tour, where they can find murals depicting these fierce and memorable moments. But we can also give you part of the scoop right here.

An Explosive History

One of the two aforementioned blasts occurred at the historic Essex Railway Station site in 1907, when a boxcar carrying explosives ignited. Visitors can learn about the incident at the site itself, located at 87 Station St. Guests can also find out how instrumental the railway was to Essex’s development during the late 19th century. Staff at the historic Essex Railway Station can be reached at 519-776-9800 for more information.

The burning of the tollgates was another destructive yet fascinating day. In 1896, the town’s residents had enough of paying tollgate fees charged at the town’s entrances, and set them aflame.

The 1907 explosion and the burning of the tollgates each have their own murals in Essex Centre, which can easily be visited while shopping or utilizing services in the downtown core.

The most recent – and hopefully final – blaze occurred in 1980, when much of the downtown area was damaged or destroyed in a natural gas explosion. It was reconstructed shortly after.

A Place to Find out More

History buffs will be delighted to know that these incidences and several other parts of the town’s past can be researched at the Essex and Community Historical Research Society facility, located in the former Carnegie Library at 18 Gordon Ave. A group of volunteers work hard to preserve old documents such as land deeds, unique items, and artifacts. To learn more about the society’s hours of operation, email

 Some Other Fun Things 

Around 200 businesses are a part of the Essex Centre BIA, each providing unique programs, services, dining experiences, and retail items. However, if you find yourself needing a break from the hustle and bustle be sure to swing by the Essex Centre BIA Parkette, located on Talbot St. near the Wilson Ave. intersection. This relaxing space is available to shoppers, residents, and visitors as a place to unwind, be protected from the elements, and enjoy some friendly recreation. For instance, it’s easy to get caught up in a hearty game of chess on its giant outdoor chess tables. Bring your skills and play in Essex any day!

To learn more about the Essex Centre BIA, visit its website here

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