- Point Pelee became a national park in 1918. The park has been designated an “Important Bird Area” and UNESCO “Wetland of International Significance.”
- Pelee was visited by aboriginal people thousands of years ago, and inhabited by them dating back to about 700 AD. In 1790, a treaty was negotiated with indigenous communities that ceded a large tract of land—including Point Pelee—to the British Crown. Unfortunately, the Caldwell Chippewa people, who inhabited Point Pelee, were not signatories of the treaty. However, the Crown did not realize this, and their land was ceded nonetheless. Subsequently, they were forced off their land, and Point Pelee remains unceded indigenous land.
- The first white men to visit the area were French explorers/missionaries from Montreal: Robert Chevalier de LaSalle, Rev. Francois Dollier de Casson, and deacon René Bréhant de Galinee. Dollier and Galinee camped at Point Pelee in the spring of 1670.
- It was named “Pointe-Pelée” by the French because the eastern side was peeled, stripped and void of trees.
- The H.J. Heinz Company established a food-processing plant in Leamington in 1909. By 1959, Leamington was the source of 2/3 of the tomatoes produced in Canada. Further, the plant produced over 480 products including ketchup, condiments and sauces, infant foods, canned beans and pasta. Ketchup (or catsup) was produced at 220 to 300 bottles per minute or 96 million bottles a year. Leamington’s was the second largest Heinz plant in the world.
- After Warren Buffet acquired Heinz in Feb. 2013 for $23.3 billion, it was announced that the Leamington plant (along with others in the U.S. and Europe) would close. Since then, the investor consortium of Highbury Canco Corporation acquired the Leamington plant and resumed operations in summer 2014; the new organization continues to provide some products to Heinz, and saved about 250 of the nearly 800 jobs lost.
- The Leamington Tomato Festival is held the third weekend in August each year as a kickoff to the tomato-harvesting season. Includes a parade, three days of Main Stage live entertainment, children’s village, car show, golf tournament, beauty pageant, crafts, food and wine vendors (featuring wineries from the Lake Erie North Shore and Pelee Island Wine Region).
- Lake Erie’s commercial fishing industry accounts for 80% of the total value of Ontario’s commercial fishing industry. Most of the fish are caught in the western & central parts of the Lake area and processed in Wheatley. More than 11,000 metric tonnes (25 million pounds) of fish are shipped to markets in Ontario, the United States and Europe each year. (Source: Taylor Fish Company)
- Pelee Island is one of Canada’s oldest grape growing regions. Located 497 miles (800 km) south of Vancouver, BC, the island’s micro-climate boasts a longer growing season than any other wine region in Canada, the highest heat units in the country, and the longest frost-free season in Ontario. Canada’s first commercial wine growing operation began here in 1866 at the Vin Villa Winery. By 1890 there were 23 wineries in the corridor between Windsor and Pelee Island, making up the majority of the 41 total wineries in Canada. World War I, the Great Depression, and competition from European wines, beer and hard liquor lead most wineries in the region to close. Grape growing and winemaking disappeared for over half of a century until 1979 when grapes were reintroduced and Pelee Island Winery was established.