Trenton (Ontario)

Trenton is the primary city in the southeastern Ontario municipality of Quinte West. Adjacent to (and just west of) Belleville, it is home of Canada’s largest air force base.

First town hall

. . . Trenton (Ontario) . . .

The Trent River was known to the Mississauga First Nation as Sangichiwigewonk, or ‘fast flowing.’ It was named by European settlers after the River Trent in England.

French explorer Samuel de Champlain followed the Trent passing through Trenton in 1615. The area around the mouth of the Trent River was first settled by Europeans in the 1780s. Assorted settlements and town plots in the area went under a number of names, until the Village of Trenton was incorporated in 1853. Trenton grew thanks to its port location and the area’s lumber industry. During the First World War, the town was home to a major munitions plant owned by the British Chemical Company. This facility was built in 1915 to manufacture artillery, rifle, and small arms ammunition. Three weeks before the Armistice, an explosion levelled the plant. Remains of the old plant can still be found today.

Trenton was also an important film production centre. In 1917, a film studio was built in the town and a number of productions were filmed there. The advent of talkies and 16mm film made the equipment at the film plant obsolete and the facility closed in 1934.

The construction of a RCAF Station Trenton, a major Royal Canadian Air Force base just east of Trenton, started in 1929 and continued through the 1930s. This provided a major economic boost to the area through the Great Depression, the Second World War and later.

In 1998, Trenton was amalgamated with the Village of Frankford and the Townships of Murray and Sidney to form the City of Quinte West. Trenton is the largest community within the municipality.

The city is on a section of Highway 401 designated the “Highway of Heroes” and is about two hours east of Toronto and one hour west of Kingston. The former Ontario Highway 2 passes through the base and the city’s downtown; Trenton is also the western terminus of the Loyalist Parkway (former Ontario Highway 33) which leads to Prince Edward County.

Trenton serves as a terminus on the Trent-Severn waterway, a canal system which reaches Peterborough (Ontario).

While Trenton’s location at part of the Windsor-Quebec corridor places it on key lines served by many intercity bus and train routes, most runs are express services which do not stop in the city. Slightly better service is available in nearby Belleville.

As home of Canada’s largest air force base, Trenton serves primarily military flights; the final flight path for fallen Canadian soldiers led from Afghanistan to Trenton by air, then followed the “Highway of Heroes” from Trenton to Toronto.

Scheduled passenger services are provided on a limited basis by:

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