Cobourg ontario's feel good town | one hour east of Toronto
The town is rooted in a rich and colourful history, paying tribute to its early settlement days of 1819 when United Empire Loyalists cleared the land for farming and homesteads. The Cobourg Museum Foundation will open the new Sifton-Cook Heritage Centre to the public on June 9, 2012. It is the first heritage centre in the area, housed in an old limestone building in downtown Cobourg, commonly referred to as “the Barracks.” The building may have been a military post during the War of 1812.
According to the Foundation, in a letter dated Sept. 11, 1814, a Lieutenant John Peters, of the 1st Regiment Northumberland Militia, refers to stationing a guard at a Depot near John’s Creek, also known as Factory Creek or Cobourg Creek. This could reference the Barracks, located at the corner of Durham and Orr streets, about 400 metres west of the creek.
The project has been in the works since 1999, and restoration was completed with funding from provincial and federal grants. An 1860s vintage workman’s cottage, given to the Foundation and moved to the site in July, 2008, will be incorporated as a welcome centre, meeting facility and administration office.
The most prominent building in town is the town hall, Victoria Hall, a National Historic Site that overlooks the shore of Lake Ontario. It comes with its own impressive story, built in 1860 by notable Toronto architect Kivas Tully and named in honour of Queen Victoria. Her son, the Prince of Wales, made an official visit for the hall opening and the town marked the occasion with a grand ball. The Palladianstyle building with Grecian columns and stone-cut symbols of the British Isles, was faithfully restored and houses a concert hall, gallery, town offices and courtroom fashioned after the Old Bailey in London.Guided tours are available year-round.
A self-guided walking tour booklet, available at the tourist office or kiosk, will tell much of the Cobourg story. The early 1800s marked a time of growth and prosperity for Cobourg as an emerging centre of business and education. British immigrants and American industrialists built homes here, American tourists established lavish summer residences, and Victoria College, built in 1832 in the Greek Revival style, later became one of Canada’s earliest degree-granting universities.