Enjoy reading stories about the history and people who have helped shape the city of Burlington.
The Brant Inn
Many years ago there was a very famous inn in Spencer Smith Park; the very same park that you might visit with your family. The Brant Inn was known for many things, but most of all it was known as a place for dancing and music, where couples could dress up in their fanciest clothes for a special evening. Through the night people from all around would come to Burlington on electric radial cars, buses, boats or in cars to gather to dance the fox-trot, the polka, the waltz or the rumba at Burlington’s beautiful waterfront. The musicians that played were world famous, and most of them played jazz. Even some of the most famous jazz artists in history played here, including Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Louis Armstrong! The Brant Inn is no longer standing, but its memory is kept alive at the Joseph Brant Museum.
One of the very first families to live in Burlington was the Ireland family. In 1835 Joseph Ireland began building a house for his wife, Ruth Best, and their family. After two full years of building Joseph finished his home, complete with living quarters for his servants. Joseph and Beth had many children, and those children had many children. In fact, George Ireland, one of Joseph’s grandsons, had nine brothers and sisters. In 1917, after Joseph had passed away, George took over the farm, and when he passed away it was left to his only child, Marie. As a child, Marie loved music and animals; she enjoyed helping her father on the farm and became an accomplished horse-woman. Marie attended McMaster University and then went to Teachers’ College. Throughout her adult life, Marie was involved in community organizations such as the Burlington Historical Society, the Garden Club of Burlington, the Teachers’ Federation and St. John’s Anglican Church. The house in which Marie grew up still stands today and has become a museum, so that visitors can get a first hand glimpse of how the Ireland family lived!
Teen Tour Band
When the Second World War ended young men were returning to Canada from overseas, excited to see their homes and families again. When they returned, it was to a country going through lots of change and growth. Like many other places at this time, Burlington had changed from a simple farmland into a bustling town! One of the most exciting new things at this time was the development of the Burlington Teen Tour Band, which still today is a very big part of the city’s reputation: in fact, the band members are widely known as Burlington’s “musical ambassadors to the world”! If you love music you may want to consider joining this wonderful group.
A long time ago there lived a great Mohawk leader, who is remembered today for his bravery and leadership. This leader was a friend to both the Six Nations and the Europeans. At the time there was a great deal of conflict between the First Nations and the Europeans because the Crown (the British rulers) wanted to control the Six Nations’ land, while the Six Nations wanted to remain free from British rule. When it became clear that the Six Nations would not be allowed to govern themselves, it became Joseph Brant’s mission to help the First Nations survive the transition from one culture to another, and act as negotiator between the First Nations and the Europeans. Because of his important job, Joseph Brant met many of the most significant European people of the age, including George Washington and King George III. To thank Joseph Brant for all of his work, the British Crown gave Brant a large piece of land. This land became Burlington. On one piece of his land Joseph Brant had a beautiful house built, where he lived until his death in 1807. After Joseph Brant passed away, his house was preserved as a part of Hotel Brant, and later became a military hospital. In the 1930s it was demolished, but little pieces of the original home were saved and used in the building of the modern day museum, which still stands today. At first, Joseph Brant Museum was located in Brant Park, which is now the Joseph Brant Hospital, but in 1994, the house was moved several times until it’s final place where it stands today. Over time, the museum has come to hold many of the stories that make Burlington the special place that it is today!