Origins of the Niagara Region

Niagara was first settled by indigenous people of the Neutral Nation. Early English settlements included Newark (the first seat of government) now called Niagara-on-the-Lake and St. Catharines (site of the first Welland Canal).

Following the American Revolutionary War, a strong influx of British settlers migrated to the counties of Lincoln and Welland. They brought with them strong roots of loyalty to King and country. Many played key roles in the agricultural, economic, industrial and educational development of the area.

Niagara Region is the successor government to the former counties of Lincoln and Welland created in the late 1860's. Over the next century the counties prospered as 26 cities, towns, townships and villages were born.

26 Original Municipalities in 1966
Municipality NamePopulation
Beamsville3,886
Bertie Township9,281
Caistor1,822
Chippawa3,877
Clinton5,815
Crowland2,081
Crystal Beach1,857
Fonthill2,790
Fort Erie9,793
Gainsborough2,852
Grimsby6,634
Grimsby North7,180
Grimsby South2,669
Humberstone4,783
Louth5,677
Niagara9,350
Niagara Falls56,891
Pelham5,270
Port Colborne17,986
St. Catharines97,101
Thorold8,843
Township Of Niagara3,113
Township Of Thorold8,111
Wainfleet5,121
Welland39,960
Willoughby1,881

Source: 1966 Census

Work on local government reform began in 1963 with the creation of the "Niagara Peninsula Municipal Committee on Urban and Regional Research". Dr. Henry Mayo was commissioned in 1965 to report on such a restructuring to the provincial government's minister of municipal affairs, the Honourable J. W. Spooner. The Mayo Report, released in 1966 recommended that the Regional Municipality of Niagara be created.

A movement to reform local government in the decade of 1965 to 1975 saw many county governments (in place since confederation in 1867) reorganized in the populated industrial corridor around the Great Lakes.

Niagara became part of the reform movement to create new forms of governance - Regional Governments. On June 26, 1969, the provincial legislature enacted The Regional Municipality of Niagara Act. On January 1, 1970 12 area municipal governments and one regional government replaced the 2 counties and 26 municipal structures.

In 1971, a single policing unit was also created through an amalgamation process. The Niagara Regional Police Service celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2001.

The Niagara Regional Council is comprised of a Chair, and 30 Councillors representing five cities, five towns and two townships. The Niagara region covers 715 square miles (1,852 square km.) and has a population of 435,126. Source: Stats Canada 2006

Over 430,000 people live, work and play in Niagara region. Millions more visit our tourist attractions each year.

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