Simcoe County: Now and Then … and Again

By Rochelle Burns, PhD, social historian

Collingwood. A town for all seasons.

And, as unlikely as it sounds, a town with a notable link to a famous British sea battle, Trafalgar.

Collingwood was incorporated as a town in 1858, nine years before Confederation, and was named after Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood (1748-1810), Lord Nelson’s second in command at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Nelson and Collingwood worked closely and well together, becoming fast friends until Nelson’s death at Trafalgar. On the death of Nelson, during the battle, Collingwood assumed command. To underscore the importance of Collingwood to the nation, he, along with Nelson, is entombed in St Paul’s Cathedral.

The man, whose name became famous because of a nail-biting sea battle, seemed an unlikely choice to have his name used for such a bucolic area as Collingwood, Ontario.

But that is what happened.

When one thinks of Collingwood, Ontario, one thinks of beautiful Georgian Bay, the twinkling snow on Blue Mountain, the fall colours of the Niagara Escarpment, and the sand of Wasaga Beach. It is such an attractive destination, that it received the title of Biosphere Reserve in 2004.

As well, Collingwood is a destination for winter and summer recreational activities such as swimming, hiking, biking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and downhill skiing. There is a network of trails that allow all this, including the Georgian Trail which connects to the Bruce Trail.

So, dear residents and visitors to Collingwood, the next time you enjoy all the leisure activities Collingwood has to offer, you can reflect on the historical significance and heroism of the man who gave this beautiful town its name.

Photo: Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood, 1st Baron Collingwood: Photo Credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

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