About the Township

The Township of Edwardsburgh/Cardinal, with a population of 6,900 is located in Eastern Ontario, Canada. The Municipality borders the majestic St. Lawrence River Seaway to the south, and includes the industrial Village of Cardinal and the historic seat of municipal government, the Village of Spencerville, as well as numerous rural hamlets.

Located at the intersection of arterial Highways 401 and 416, E/C is less than an hour drive from the cities of Kingston, Cornwall, and Ottawa, the nation’s capital.

Historic sites, schools, churches, recreational facilities, parks, and community businesses and organizations all provide welcoming opportunities for residents and visitors to experience our excellent quality of life. An International Bridge across the St. Lawrence River provides easy access to Upstate New York, U.S.A., and the Township’s Deep Sea Port and Grain Elevator connects us commercially to the North American Great Lakes and all Countries of the world

Township History

The Township of Edwardsburgh/Cardinal has a rich and interesting history beginning before the Loyalists arrived in 1784. The French, working with their Indian allies, built a storehouse on the shores of Johnstown Creek, which was then called Old Breeches River. The storehouse was used to store supplies as they made their way to fur trading posts upriver and Fort Frontenac (Kingston today) from 1673 to 1758. Fort de Levis was built on Chimney Island (located just off present day Grenville Park) in the hopes of delaying the British advance down river. The final battle between the French and British during their conquest of North America took place here in August 1760.

1784 saw the arrival of the loyal subjects of George III, fleeing the American Revolution. The first settlement of 166 settlers in Edwardsburgh Royal Township #6 was at Johnstown, which was named after Sr. William Johnson. By 1789, a town site was laid out in one acre lots with streets named after the family of George III and with the exception of one, remain so today. The drawing of lots in Edwardsburgh was unusual in that every loyalist head-of-household drew from the hat, giving one and all an equal chance at receiving the most desirable piece of land, near the front and close to the river. The District of Johnstown Court House, which was located almost under Prescott-Ogdensburg International Bridge, was built between 1795 and 1797. Unfortunately, the Seat of Justice was moved to Elizabethtown in 1810 and with it went the hope that Johnstown would grow in prominence. The Coat of Arms which once hung in the Johnstown Court House can now be seen in the Court House in Brockville.

In 1838 a group of approximately 200 insurgents from the United States called Patriot Hunters, seized the windmill and surrounding houses in support of the Upper Canada Rebellion. The British forces and local militia were able to defeat the Patriots; however, forty-eight men were killed and eighty-nine wounded in the battle. Today the Battle of the Windmill is a National Historic Site located in New Wexford.

The first mill was built by David Spencer in 1811 or 1817 in the Village of Spencerville and was replaced by a stone grist mill in 1833. The town hall was first constructed in 1855 and like the mill, after being gutted by fire, was rebuilt at later dates. In 1855 a long-standing tradition of agricultural fairs was first held in Spencerville.

Cardinal, prior to its incorporation in 1878, was known by many names, Point Cardinal, Munro’s Point, Port Elgin and also Edwardsburgh. As early as 1794 Hugh Munro operated a saw and grist mill. In 1844 work began on the Galop Canal and in 1898 the canal was improved and enlarged. In 1858 the Benson & Aspden Starch Company began in Cardinal and remains in operation today as Ingredion. The first passenger train stopped at the village in 1856.

In 1929 the grain elevator was built, with a 5 million bushel capacity. Today the elevator is owned and operated by the Township of Edwardsburgh/Cardinal. Prior to the completion of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1958, the canal locking system was too short to allow the lake ships to get through; therefore, cargo had to be transferred to eastbound canal boats. In 1960 the Seaway International Bridge, connecting Johnstown and Ogdensburg opened.