Why Windsor, Ontario is the Place to be this Summer

When you think of Windsor, Ontario you probably think of Chrysler, Caesars, and the place where 19 and 20-year-old Americans migrate every weekend to have a good time.

But did you know Windsor is also home to some of the best pizza in the world, four of the five safest communities in the country (Amherstburg, LaSalle, Tecumseh, and Lakeshore—who knew?), and one of the world’s largest fireworks displays?

How about the fact that Windsor, Ontario was once almost named Richmond, Ontario? Or that the city’s name is a tribute to Windsor Castle in Berkshire, England?

Recognized for our automotive contributions, hot summer months, and of course shawarma—Windsor is a diverse city with a rich history.

As Canada’s southernmost city, our city was once a hub for smuggling alcohol to the US during prohibition, and prior to that—a key stop along the Underground Railroad.

Following the State of Michigan’s ban on the sale of alcohol in 1916 (a whole three years before prohibition became national law), many Americans turn to Windsor to drink and party (sound familiar?).

Although Ontario had passed the Temperance Act that same year, alcohol was still legal to distill, thus making rum-running the craze in Windsor.

Among the gangs organized in the city, The Purple Gang was the most notable, supplying Canadian whisky and Old Log Cabin to Al Capone and his Chicago empire for years before falling apart in 1929.

In order for such gangs to smuggle alcohol from Windsor to Detroit, a B-13 clearance document had to be issued from federal customs officials with the destination (usually somewhere in South America) stamped on it.

Typically, rum runners would unload a boxcar into a boat at the docks in Windsor, and then using a permit stamped by a bribed customs officer, set sail for say—Cuba or Venezuela—before dropping the cargo off in Detroit. During the winter however, rum runners had no choice but to drive across the frozen Detroit river using lighter cars with six-cylinder engines—a task that proved far more challenging.

But Windsor’s history with cross border smuggling doesn’t end there.

As a key stop along the Underground Railroad, an estimated 30,000 to
potentially 100,000 African-American refugees escaped through Windsor during the American Civil War (1861-1865). Although many returned to America after slavery was abolished, a significant number of African Americans settled in Ontario, with many settling in what is now Windsor-Essex County.

Designated as one of Canada’s National Historic Sites, the Sandwich First Baptist Church was the first stop for those traveling the Underground Railroad through Windsor. As a headquarters for many anti-slavery activities, thousands were received, sheltered, and assisted at this church, making it one of the city’s most significant sights.

As of 2017, the Windsor metropolitan area (consisting of Windsor, Tecumseh, Amherstburg, LaSalle and Lakeshore) is home to over 344,000 people, many of whom are immigrants from around the world.

As the second most diverse city in Ontario, Windsor’s well-established tourism industry, rich history, blooming economy, and not to mention the fact that the largest U.S. city on any Canada–U.S. border is only minutes away from us—makes it a wonderful place to spend this summer.

When you think of Windsor, Ontario you probably think of Chrysler, Caesars, and the place where 19 and 20-year-old Americans migrate every weekend to have a good time.

But did you know Windsor is also home to some of the best pizza in the world, four of the five safest communities in the country (Amherstburg, LaSalle, Tecumseh, and Lakeshore—who knew?), and one of the world’s largest fireworks displays?

How about the fact that Windsor, Ontario was once almost named Richmond, Ontario? Or that the city’s name is a tribute to Windsor Castle in Berkshire, England?

Recognized for our automotive contributions, hot summer months, and of course shawarma—Windsor is a diverse city with a rich history.

As Canada’s southernmost city, our city was once a hub for smuggling alcohol to the US during prohibition, and prior to that—a key stop along the Underground Railroad.

Following the State of Michigan’s ban on the sale of alcohol in 1916 (a whole three years before prohibition became national law), many Americans turn to Windsor to drink and party (sound familiar?).

Although Ontario had passed the Temperance Act that same year, alcohol was still legal to distill, thus making rum-running the craze in Windsor.

Among the gangs organized in the city, The Purple Gang was the most notable, supplying Canadian whisky and Old Log Cabin to Al Capone and his Chicago empire for years before falling apart in 1929.

In order for such gangs to smuggle alcohol from Windsor to Detroit, a B-13 clearance document had to be issued from federal customs officials with the destination (usually somewhere in South America) stamped on it.

Typically, rum runners would unload a boxcar into a boat at the docks in Windsor, and then using a permit stamped by a bribed customs officer, set sail for say—Cuba or Venezuela—before dropping the cargo off in Detroit. During the winter however, rum runners had no choice but to drive across the frozen Detroit river using lighter cars with six-cylinder engines—a task that proved far more challenging.

But Windsor’s history with cross border smuggling doesn’t end there.

As a key stop along the Underground Railroad, an estimated 30,000 to
potentially 100,000 African-American refugees escaped through Windsor during the American Civil War (1861-1865). Although many returned to America after slavery was abolished, a significant number of African Americans settled in Ontario, with many settling in what is now Windsor-Essex County.

Designated as one of Canada’s National Historic Sites, the Sandwich First Baptist Church was the first stop for those traveling the Underground Railroad through Windsor. As a headquarters for many anti-slavery activities, thousands were received, sheltered, and assisted at this church, making it one of the city’s most significant sights.

As of 2017, the Windsor metropolitan area (consisting of Windsor, Tecumseh, Amherstburg, LaSalle and Lakeshore) is home to over 344,000 people, many of whom are immigrants from around the world.

As the second most diverse city in Ontario, Windsor’s well-established tourism industry, rich history, blooming economy, and not to mention the fact that the largest U.S. city on any Canada–U.S. border is only minutes away from us—makes it a wonderful place to spend this summer.

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