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About Prescott

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The Town of Prescott is a welcoming riverside community, rich in natural splendor and culture. Residents enjoy the scenic waterfront atmosphere of the St. Lawrence River, and enjoy the best of small-town living with all the conveniences of a large urban setting.   

Located on the South Shore of the St. Lawrence River, the Town of Prescott is ideally located near Highway 401, Highway 416 and close to the international bridge; a strategic connection to the Canadian and US markets. Its key location, with access to major Canadian cities, makes Prescott a sensible choice for existing and new business investments.

The arts and culture in the Town of Prescott are also noteworthy attributes that not only attract tourists to the area, but provide unique opportunities for residents to enjoy. The Prescott Golf CourseThe Forwarders' MuseumFort Wellington and historic walking tours are just some of the attractions. In the summer months, tourism peaks with the St. Lawrence Shakespeare FestivalA Taste of Prescott, the Farmers' Market, and the newly developed RiverWalk Park.

The residents of the Town of Prescott benefit from the addition of new commercial business and the growing cultural scene in the area. Volunteer organizations, a forward-thinking council and residential developments provide new and current residents with great opportunities to enjoy the excellent quality of life that the Town of Prescott offers.

Get Here
The Town of Prescott is located on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River in southeastern Ontario.

Highway 401 and Highway 2 pass through the town while Highway 416, also known as the Veterans Memorial Highway, borders the community.

We are within easy access to many of the region's cities, points of interests, attractions and special activities.

It's easy to find us with detailed driving instructions

Move Here
There are many reasons to choose the Town of Prescott as your home. Upon entering, it is evident that the community puts quality of life at the top of its list. There is growing economic development, an evolving social and cultural scene and an abundance of parks and recreation facilities to enjoy on a daily basis.

Our geographical location allows our residents to work either in town or in nearby urban centres. This allows choice in employment to ensure those wishing to live here can use their acquired skill set.

The Town of Prescott offers a large variety of services to make every day living as enjoyable and convenient as possible.

Housing & Services

Prescott offers a full range of urban services, including water and sewer systems that include capacity for residential growth. Expanding subdivisions and new condominium developments continue to offer new homes to existing and potential residents. There are also a number of heritage and historic homes that provide a glimpse into Canada's 19th century past, as well as beautiful residential and commercial opportunities.

Founding of the Town
Major Edward Jessup (1735-1816) was awarded the 1200 acres on which Prescott is located by King George III for his loyalty to the Crown during the American War of Independence. Jessup led his troops to Augusta Township, which was established in 1784, along with the other seven Royal Townships along the St. Lawrence River from Cornwall to Kingston. Jessup decided to convert a portion of his farm in Augusta into a town site in 1810 and surveyed the land in order to sell town lots. He named the town after General Robert Prescott, governor of Canada from 1796 to 1799.

Prescott was a strategic site on the St. Lawrence River for various reasons, including the fact that it stood at the head of the series of rapids between it and Montreal. All boats and ships between Montreal and York (later named Toronto) had to transfer goods and people at Prescott between smaller and larger vessels. Prescott's first major business was the forwarding trade to facilitate these transfers. When war broke out in 1812 between America and Britain, the British decided to build a fort at Prescott to safeguard the border and maintain the flow of traffic along the St. Lawrence River. Fort Wellington was built between 1813 and 1815 to accommodate British soldiers on land that had been owned by Major Jessup.

Early Town Development
The Town of Prescott grew quickly because of its location and the availability of land for sale to settlers who began arriving immediately after the war in 1816. The immigrants were largely from the British Isles and the United States. Britain had just successfully concluded the Napoleonic wars and there was pressure on large numbers of the population to emigrate to Canada to seek a better life. This was intensified a few decades later with the Great Irish Famine. A post office was established in 1816 and in 1823 a customs house. Alpheus Jones, descended from the Loyalists, was put in charge of both. He built what is still regarded by many as the grandest home in Prescott on Dibble Street, beside today's town hall.

By 1834, when the town was incorporated as a Police District, the population had grown to around 1700. By that time the town boasted a large number of substantial and handsome stone residences and commercial establishments.

Trade was thriving. The town had four churches, a college, three Common schools and a female seminary. The political unrest of 1837 in Upper and Lower Canada came to Prescott in 1838 with the Battle of the Windmill. The local militia and British soldiers successfully repulsed an invading force of self-styled Patriot Hunters from the United States attempting to liberate Canada from British rule.

Early Prescott industries included iron forges, shipbuilding, tanneries, breweries and distilleries. Many smaller businesses sprang up including carriage makers, harness makers, shoe and boot makers, blacksmiths, cabinet makers, grocers and dry goods merchants. By 1850, the town had grown to about 2400, sufficient to warrant the establishment of a municipal government. In the years following Confederation in 1867, Prescott grew quickly. Railways connecting it to Ottawa and Montreal and Toronto had been built.

Post-Confederation Developments
The completion of the canals bypassing the rapids on the St. Lawrence in 1848 spelled the eventual demise of the forwarding trade but other industries thrived. J.P Wiser built one of Canada's largest distilleries at the west end of the town. Nearby was the Labatt's Brewery, an offshoot of the large London Ontario firm. With prosperity came banks, telegraph offices, newspaper publishing, a high school, doctors' offices, dentists, a library and many features of urban centres many times Prescott's size. Prescott was early to get telephone service, electricity, and water and sewers. Many volunteer organizations and service clubs appeared and were widely supported. Sporting clubs offered diversions in both summer and winter.

The history of Prescott mirrors the history of Canada. From a frontier settlement to a prosperous town integrated into its surroundings, Prescott today still reveals its proud past by the many historic buildings that are lovingly preserved. Take a walk in our historic downtown or along the shady residential side streets and you will be a witness to this history.

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