Building Identity - Growth and Industry

Setting the Stage: The Growth of Peterborough

Cities are living entities created by the people who live there. Growing and changing over time, cities reinvent themselves to reflect their residents. If you look closely, you can see evidence of the past all around you.  To know where a city is going, you need to know where it has been.

We Built This City

Peterborough was rich in natural resources that provided the components needed to build a great city.
Lumber played a vital role in the early growth and development of the city. Lumber mills were prominent in Peterborough and started on the shore of the Otonabee River in 1820.  Several important mills and lumber companies were established including Adam Scott’s Mill, the Samuel Dickson Lumber Company, and the Nassau Mill among others.

Peterborough also produced brick. The clay used to make bricks was located throughout the county. Several brick manufacturers were established in Peterborough including the Curtis Brickyard, Romaine’s Brick and Tile Works, the Heap and Butcher Brickyard, and Rose’s Brickyard.
The city had a strong manufacturing industry. Foundries manufactured metal objects including mill and agricultural machinery, plows, and heavy iron castings. These parts contributed to the building and growth of the city.

The Master Plan: Peterborough’s Expanding Layout

The year is 1850. Would you recognize Peterborough?

The historic limits of Peterborough make up the downtown core, but the city has developed and changed in ways that may not have been imagined.  Today, Peterborough is no longer a city framed by religious structures and sprawling industrial factories.

The 1900s marked the beginning of real changes to the layout of Peterborough. The annexation of Ashburnham sparked a broadening of city limits.  However, it was not until after the Second World War that rapid growth began.  Expansion to the north, south, and west during the 1960s brought about the Peterborough that we recognize today.

Peterborough now faces a new phase in its development.  No longer able to grow outwards, the city will have to expand upward, once again altering the dimensions and architecture of the city.

[Link to Expanding City Limits Interactive Slide Show]

Location, Location, Location!

Transformed by industry, Peterborough needed to find ways to support its growing population.
Large factories and railroads altered the early makeup of Peterborough. Buildings were placed close to train tracks to economize space, but Peterborough was still plagued by housing shortages.  The city began to look outwards for the solution.

The early 1900s saw the development of one of Peterborough’s first suburbs, the Avenues. In the early 1950’s, the areas west of Lansdowne Street began to transition out of rural farmhouses and by the late 1960s, the area had been developed into a functional housing development.

Suburbs increased the need for public transportation.  Peterborough introduced streetcars, and then buses to meet these needs and give easier access to major places of employment.  This allowed workers to seek accommodations away from traditional living quarters such as on-site company housing.

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