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History of Trenton

Early History

Trenton, a mid-sized community in Southern Ontario, has a rich historical past. The present-day Trenton was first visited by Samuel de Champlain, a French explorer and colonist, who explored the area around the Trent River in 1615. The first permanent residents of the area around Trenton were loyalists who came to the region in the 1780s. The village of Trenton expanded due to its favorable location on the Bay of Quinte and prominent lumber industry.

By 1880, Trenton attained the status of a town. During World War I, Trenton was home to a large munitions plant that produced artillery, rifle and other types of ammunition. At the beginning of the 20th century, the munitions plant was Trenton’s major industry and a large employer. Trenton’s economy was gradually moving from lumber-based economy to a more diversified, industrial-driven economy.

In 1917, a film studio was established in Trenton, which made the town a film production center. Between the 1910s and the 1930s, over a thousand silent movies were made by the Trenton Film Plant. With the advent of sound films and the arrival of new technologies, the Trenton Film Plant became obsolete and was closed in 1934.

Another milestone in Trenton’s history was the construction of the Royal Canadian Air Force base in 1931, which is the military base of Canada’s military aviation and a large training base. As of 2020, the military base is still in operation and since 1931 has been a major employer in Trenton and its surroundings. Today the Trenton base plays a crucial role for the national air transport operations, as well as Canada’s search and rescue programs.

Late History

In 1980, Trenton was incorporated as a city and in 1998 merged with Frankford, Sidney and Murray to form Quinte West. Trenton remains the largest community within Quinte West and is the administrative center of the area. Trenton is home to Canadian Forces Base Trenton (former RCAF Station Trenton), Nestle Canada Inc., GlobalMed Inc., Electro Cables Inc. and other organizations. As of today, the population of Trenton is approximately 16,000.

Trenton, a city with a colorful history and the major community within Quinte West, has a lot to offer travel buffs. Visit the National Air Force Museum of Canada, go hiking in the Centennial Park, treat yourself to some seafood at a local restaurant or go fishing around the Bay of Quinte — whichever activity you choose, you will have lots of sweet memories to bring home!