Begin your walk at the site of the first bridge that linked the west and east communities of the Trent River. The original wooden covered bridge built in 1833 and it established a strong trade link from Kingston to York (Toronto). With increase in road traffic and steady growth on the waterway, a much-needed new steel swing bridge was erected in 1916. The swing bridge stood for over 70 years, before its aging condition warranted the construction of a new bridge.
The Veteran’s Skyway Bridge was completed in various steps in 1990; first, the bridge was constructed while resting on temporary piers, about 10 meters south of its current location; secondly, the traffic was rerouted to the new bridge. This allowed dismantling of the 1916 bridge without cutting off or delaying transportation across town. On November 19, 1990, the new bridge then was slid from its current position to align with Trenton’s downtown main street. The process used hydraulic jacks and took approximately four hours to complete. This was a FIRST for a North American bridge to be shifted in a lateral direction.
Take a brief stop to enjoy the Photo Mosaic Mural located on the side of the Quinte West Community Policing Building. Step up close to see the many photos used in the design. This mural commemorates our historical connections to the film industry.
The large industrial grey building, right along the water is Trenton Cold Storage, established in 1902, and is Trenton’s oldest business that is still standing today. This refrigerated warehousing and distribution company delivers across Canada and the United States.
Enjoy this downtown green space of Fraser Park. Ahead you will see the Fraser Park Gates, which were constructed by The Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire, a Canadian women’s organization founded in 1900. The gates were built as a memorial after the First World War and Second World War.
1910 photo of a mother & daughter boating, in what today is Fraser Park! The Clock Tower is visible in the background. Fraser Park was under water until mid-1920.
Straight ahead is the cenotaph. As a city with a Royal Canadian Air Force base, there are strong ties to our military community.
This location was previously the home to the Trenton Memorial Library, which served Trenton for 50 years until the new Quinte West Public Library opened in 2004 within the new City Hall.
In 1956, the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario began erecting plaques across the province. The Provincial plaque program remains their oldest and most well-known endeavour, with over 1,270 provincial plagues and 22 international plagues placed to date. The plaque which stands outside of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 110 describes the journey of Samuel de Champlain, a small party of Frenchmen, and around five hundred Wyandot peoples as they travelled down the Trent River. This plaque documents not only Franco-Ontarian and Indigenous heritage but serves as a reminder of Trenton’s historic ties to the Trent River. The Trent River continued to play an integral role in Trenton’s development. Trenton became first town in Ontario to develop commercial electricity from water power. The boating and tourism industry flourished in Trenton and on the Bay of Quinte. Two marinas were built to support this growth, one in Fraser Park and another at Centennial Park. In 2015 the new Trent Port Marina was completed, a premium-class municipal marina uniquely positioned to enable boaters’ easy access to our renowned waterways.
** if you wish to extend your walk to visit our new Trent Port Marina, continue past the Legion towards the red roof building which is the location of Quinte West City Hall and our library.
Dominion Architect of the Department of Public Works for the Government of Canada from 1881 to 1896, more than seventy monumental post offices of his design was constructed. The best quality limestone was selected from Ox Point Quarries near Belleville, for this project. The clocks of the tower were so impressive that the tower was raised ten feet higher than the original design, to a height of ninety feet, so that the clock faces could be seen clearly from the main street.
In 1971, the existing building was demolished to make way for City Hall and a parking garage. In 1979, the tower designated as a heritage property under the Ontario Heritage Act, for architectural and historic reasons. Today only sixteen of the almost eighty original Fuller post offices still exist.
As you walk, our “main street” note that it is a section of Dundas Street W, which is, part of Hwy #2 an original route between what is now Toronto and Montreal. Many banks held prominent positions along the main street of Trenton.
Before you turn right at the theatre, take a moment to look across Dundas Street. In the early 1900s the Central Ontario Railway had a downtown train station. Today, this location is home to Metro. This photo is from 1912.
In 1861, local limestone was used to construct the market building which architect Kivas Tully designed. Aside from being municipal offices, and farmers’ market it also became the home of the Trenton police force. One jail cell and a police officer shared space with butcher stalls on the ground floor. The upper floor of the building was the home of both the Town Council and the Courtroom. When the council moved out in 1917, the building became the Trenton Police Station and remained that for approximately 70 years. Today the renovated building no longer has a wraparound porch and is our Trenton Town Hall – 1861, home of Trent Port Historical Society. They have been a valued resource in creating this walk of Trenton’s downtown. In 1983, the building was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.
Below is a photo from across the street where once the Bank of Montreal was in the building with the small round windows – now home of Whitley Insurance.
The brick buildings that line our streets have hosted tourists and visitors alike for centuries.
The below picture from 1901 is the St. Lawrence Hall (Hotel) which boasted a fine dining room and a bar with the best liquors, wines and cigars. The structure is still here today look for #48 Dundas and the distinct brick work on the top.
Trenton’s downtown has seen its landscape shaped and changed by not just explosions, busts, booms, and population growth, but also by various fires. In 1978 major fires devastated the downtown area, first during Easter Sunday wiping out eleven stores on Front Street, five major business buildings, and several apartment units on the Front and Dundas Street corner. The second destroyed the commercial block on the south side, extending to the bridge on Dundas Street West.
The Saylor Block is one of the most significant 19th century commercial structures in Trenton. Constructed in 1877 by Samuel Cooley, the building is one of the few that survived the great fire of March 1978. Mr. Saylor Sr. had been adamant about the construction of a firewall during renovations on the neighbouring building; this was to the key to the Saylor Blocks survival. The Saylor family has been in business as merchants since the 1880s. Look up to enjoy the architecture and design of this core landmark. You can visit the fifth generation of the family business today, still operating from this structure.
If you wish to continue down Front Street, the Trent River will be in your view on the right. The river was named after the River Trent in England.
As you come to the end of your tour, we hope you can enjoy a beverage, meal and some shopping in Beautiful Downtown Trenton.