Located in the heart of eastern Ontario within the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, the Township of Edwardsburgh Cardinal is home to about 7,100 residents.

The municipality borders the majestic St. Lawrence Seaway to the south and is located at the intersection of provincial Highways 401 and 416. Edwardsburgh Cardinal is less than an hour's drive from the Ontario cities of Kingston, Cornwall and our nation's capital, Ottawa.

The Township includes the industrious Village of Cardinal, the historic seat of municipal government in the Village of Spencerville, as well as many rural hamlets.

Quality of life

A beautiful area with vast countryside settings, quaint downtown districts, historic sites, recreational facilities, schools, churches and parks, the Township provides a welcoming quality of life for residents and visitors to experience and enjoy.

Business opportunities

Strategically located for business operations locally, as well as abroad, the Township's businesses reach large Canadian markets and international markets through the International Bridge to the U.S. across the St. Lawrence River. The Township's deep sea port and grain elevator also connect us commercially to the North American Great Lakes and other worldwide countries.

Township history

The Township has a rich and interesting history, beginning before the British loyalists arrived in 1784.

The French, working with their Indigenous allies, built a storehouse on the shores of Johnstown Creek (then called the Old Breeches River). The storehouse was used to store supplies as the French and their allies made their way to fur trading posts upriver and to Fort Frontenac (now Kingston) from 1673 to 1758.

The settlers built Fort de Levis on Chimney Island (located just off present day Grenville Park) hoping to delay the British advances downriver. The final battle between the French and British during their conquest of North America took place here in August 1760.

In 1784, loyal subjects of British King George III arrived, fleeing the American Revolution. The first settlement of 166 settled in Edwardsburgh Royal Township #6 at Johnstown, named after Sir William Johnson, an Irish official in the British empire. By 1789, the loyalists had built a town site in one-acre lots, with streets named after the family of George III. It remains so today, with the exception of one street.

The drawing of lots in Edwardsburgh was unusual in that every loyalist head-of-household drew from a hat, giving one and all an equal chance at receiving the most desirable piece of land, close to the river at the front of the settlement.

The District of Johnstown Court House was built between 1795 and 1797 near the Prescott-Ogdensburg International Bridge. Unfortunately, the Seat of Justice was moved to Elizabethtown in 1810 and with it, the hopes that Johnstown would grow in prominence. The Coat of Arms, which once hung in the Johnstown Court House, now resides in the Court House in Brockville.

In 1838, a group of about 200 insurgents from the U.S., called patriot hunters, seized the windmill and surrounding houses in support of the Upper Canada Rebellion. The British forces and local militia defeated the patriots, however 48 men were killed and 89 wounded in battle. Today, the Battle of the Windmill is a National Historic Site 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. The Spencerville Mill and Museum now showcases the site's rich history. In 1855, a longstanding 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 Edwardsburgh. As early as 1794, Hugh Munro operated a saw and grist mill. In 1814, work began on the Galop Canal and in 1898, the canal was improved and enlarged. In 1858, the Benson & Aspden Starch Company was established 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 come through. Therefore, cargo had to be transferred to eastbound canal boats. In 1960, the Seaway International Bridge, connecting Johnstown and Ogdensburg opened.