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Located along one of the oldest trade routes in North America, the territory of the Town of Hawkesbury has long been a strategic location. It was formerly occupied by native groups for whom the Ottawa River was an important link between the Great Lakes and the northeastern portion of the continent.

With the arrival of Europeans, the islands in front of Hawkesbury were certainly deemed strategic emplacement for camps  on  the fur trade route. the birth of the Town occurred in the early 19th century. It was at this time that the first logging mills were established in Hawkesbury, an event that deeply marked the industrial use of the site and islands.

Even though Hawkesbury was recognized as an industrial and commercial center, it first-handedly felt the repercussions of the 1873 – 1878 economic crisis. Logging activities were gradually replaced by the pulp and paper industry during that time.

At the turn of the 20th century, small industries were replaced  by large players that increasingly dominated the labour market. The economic impact of the Great Depression in the 1930s was lessened by the construction of Pearly bridge that served as connector between Hawkesbury to the village of Grenville. this new strategic relationship between the  two  provinces  begat  an economic vitality which led to the town’s recognition a true regional center for trade and services.

The mid-20th century was marked by the construction of the Carillon dam and expropriation of an entire sector on the Chenail Island. Despite protests, the residents had no choice but to leave their land. At this point, the Town begins it southern expansion that includes new residential areas and an industrial park.

The last thirty years have inflicted a heavy blow to the local and regional economy. Hawkesbury witnessed the closure of several large companies including the Canadian International Paper (CIP) in 1983 and  Amoco,  in  the  early  2000s.  These  closures  were a setback not only to the local economy but also to the Town’s collective identity.

As a result, a greater economic diversification in the businesses operating in the industrial and services sector can be noted today.

Just like that of many first generation industrial towns, Hawkesbury’s history is punctuated by important events that had major impacts on local social and economic development scene. Nevertheless, the Town and its residents have demonstrated the ability to adapt. It is in this context of tradition and resilience to cope with change that this strategic planning exercise was conducted with the citizens of the Town of Hawkesbury.

If you want to know more, you can download the document published for the 150th birthday of the Town called 'pdfHawkesbury. 150 facts and memories'.

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