St. Thomas, Ontario

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St. Thomas
City of St. Thomas
St Thomas City Hall National Historic Site of Canada.jpg
St. Thomas City Hall
Flag of St Thomas, Ontario.svg
Logo of St. Thomas, Ontario.svg
St Thomas, Ontario Location.png
Canada Southern Ontario location map 2.png
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St. Thomas
Coordinates: 42°46.5′N81°11′W / 42.7750°N 81.183°W / 42.7750; -81.183 Coordinates: 42°46.5′N81°11′W / 42.7750°N 81.183°W / 42.7750; -81.183
Country Canada
Province Ontario
County Elgin
Incorporated1852 (Village)
 1861 (town)
1881 (city)
   Mayor Joe Preston
  Governing Body St. Thomas City Council
   MPs Karen Vecchio (CPC)
   MPPs Rob Flack (OPC)
  Land35.52 km2 (13.71 sq mi)
209.10 m (686.02 ft)
 (2021) [1]
   City (single-tier)42,918
  Density1,067/km2 (2,760/sq mi)
Time zone UTC-5 (EST)
  Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
Forward sortation area
Area code(s) 519, 226, and 548
Highways Ontario 3 crown.svg  Highway 3
Ontario 4 crown.svg  Highway 4

St. Thomas is a city in southwestern Ontario, Canada. It gained its city charter on March 4, 1881. The city is also the seat for Elgin County, although it is independent of the county.


At the time of the 2021 Census, the population of the city was 42,918. [3]


Life-sized Jumbo statue Jumbo1St.jpg
Life-sized Jumbo statue

The city, located at the intersection of two historical roads, was first settled in 1810. It was named the seat of the new Elgin County in 1844 and was incorporated as a village in 1852, then as a town in 1861. In 1881 St. Thomas became a city. It was named after Thomas Talbot [4] who helped promote the development of this region during the early 19th century.

The founder of the settlement that became St. Thomas was Capt. Daniel Rapelje, descendant of a Walloon family settled in New Amsterdam, now New York City, at its inception in the seventeenth century. [5] In 1820, Rapelje, the town's first settler, divided his land into town lots suitable for a village. Owner of the New England Mill, Rapelje subsequently donated two acres of land for the building of Old St. Thomas Church. [6]

In 1871, the developing village of Millersburg, which included these lands east of the London and Port Stanley Railway, amalgamated with St. Thomas. [7]

In the late 19th century and early 20th century several railways were constructed through the city, and St. Thomas became an important railway junction. A total of 26 railways have passed through the city since the first railway was completed in 1856. In the 1950s and 1960s, with the decline of the railway as a mode of transportation, other industry began to locate in the city, principally primary and secondary automotive manufacturing.

Jumbo the circus elephant, said to be the world's biggest elephant at the time, died here on September 15, 1885, shortly after being hit by a locomotive. There is a life-sized commemorative statue that was erected in 1985.

In 1824, Charles Duncombe and John Rolph established the first medical school in Upper Canada, in St. Thomas, under the patronage of Colonel Thomas Talbot. [8] Duncombe's house now forms part of The Elgin Military Museum complex. Between 1881 and 1988 the city had a private woman's school operating called Alma College which was destroyed by fire in 2008.

St. Thomas' late 19th- early 20th century architecture includes the Elgin County Court House, Wellington Street public school, Myrtle St. School (demolished in 2014), Balaclava St. School, Elmdale School and its city hall, most designated heritage properties and all designed by former resident Neil R. Darrach.


Joe Preston is the current mayor of St. Thomas. The City Council consists of the mayor and eight City Councillors, all elected at large, meaning Councillors are elected on a citywide basis. [9]


31 Combat Engineer Regiment (The Elgins) was created in 1997 when the former Elgin Regiment (RCAC) was re-roled from an armour tasking. The regiment had been associated with St. Thomas since its creation; St. Thomas is currently home to one of its two component field squadrons. [10] St. Thomas Armoury is a recognized Federal Heritage building 1992 on the Register of the Government of Canada Heritage Buildings. [11]


In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, St. Thomas had a population of 42,840 living in 18,062 of its 18,596 total private dwellings, a change of

According to the 2011 census, St. Thomas had a population of 37,905 people in 2011, which was an increase of 5.6% from the 2006 census count. The median household income in 2016 for St. Thomas was $71,356.75 [13]

In the 2016 Census, more than 10,000 people were age 60 or over. [14]

Historical population
1996 32,275+6.4%
2001 33,236+3.0%
2006 36,110+8.6%
2011 37,905+5.0%
2016 38,909+2.6%
1996 population would have been 31,407 with 2001 boundaries
2001 population would have been 33,303 with 2006 boundaries


Fanshawe College has a satellite campus in St. Thomas. Catholic schools are controlled by the London District Catholic School Board and public schools are controlled by the Thames Valley District School Board. Arthur Voaden Secondary School, Central Elgin Collegiate Institute and Parkside Collegiate Institute are the three public high schools. St. Joseph's High School is a Catholic high school. There are two independent Christian elementary schools, Kings Academy and St. Thomas Community Christian School.


The local economy has been dominated by automotive manufacturing, with two plants operated by Magna International, the Ford St. Thomas Assembly in nearby Talbotville, and a Sterling Trucks assembly plant. However, the 2008 global recession that impacted the auto sector ultimately trickled down to the city; the Sterling plant closed in March 2009, and the Ford plant closed in late 2011 for a loss of 1,400 jobs. [16] A number of other, smaller auto parts plants also closed as a result, putting thousands more out of work. This had a domino effect on the other part manufacturers in town, such as Lear Seating. One automotive materials supplier, A. Schulman, had previously closed its local manufacturing plant in 2008, one of the first actions of a new CEO installed in January. [17]

Masco Canada's consolidation of their Canadian operations into the former Sterling Truck assembly plant in 2010 [18] and Toyota supplier Takumi Stamping Canada's expansion in the same year [19] brought over 500 jobs to St. Thomas.

A report in June 2019 indicated that a plant for cross-laminated timber (CLT) would be built in town, providing over 60 jobs. The estimated cost of the automated plant was $32 million. [20]

The town's Economic Development Corporation has attracted film crews, [21] particularly to the former psychiatric hospital (the Regional Mental Health Centre) on Sunset Drive as a location for filming. A January 2020 report indicated that productions filming in the town have included The Boys , Guillermo del Toro's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and most recently, a film featuring Jason Momoa that was planning to film in town, frequently outdoors, from February to June 2020. [22] [23]


The Highway 4 / Talbot Street (now renamed Talbot Hill) junction, before it was reconstructed into a roundabout. Highway4StThomas.JPG
The Highway 4 / Talbot Street (now renamed Talbot Hill) junction, before it was reconstructed into a roundabout.

St. Thomas is accessible via Ontario Highway 3 and Ontario Highway 4, the latter of which provides access to London, Highway 401 and Highway 402.

Local Motion - Railway City Transit, which includes both conventional bus service and paratransit, is owned by the city and staffed and operated by Voyageur Transportation.

The city is served by the St. Thomas Municipal Airport (YQS), just east in the Municipality of Central Elgin. There are no scheduled flights; the airport is used for general aviation only. A bi-annual large-scale air show takes place at the St. Thomas Municipal Airport.

From 1978 to 1979 Canada Southern Railway Station served as the only Canadian stop for the short-lived Amtrak Niagara Rainbow route.


St. Thomas has several media outlets based in the city. The St. Thomas Times-Journal is the city's newspaper, owned by Sun Media (Quebecor). The St. Thomas - Elgin Weekly News is a weekly newspaper published in St. Thomas, that is distributed for free to all residents of St. Thomas and Elgin County. The Elgin County Market is a weekly publication that is also distributed for free to all residents of St. Thomas and Elgin County, it features various local business flyers and advertisements.

Rogers Cable operates a local community channel consisting mostly of local and dedicated volunteers. CFPL-DT, branded as CTV Two London, covers many news stories from St. Thomas.

St. Thomas's only local commercial radio station, CKZM-FM 94.1 FM was launched on May 20, 2011. Also a low-power FM radio station VF8016, 90.1 MHz broadcasts religious activities from Faith Baptist Church of St. Thomas. CFHK-FM, branded as 103.1 Fresh FM, is also licensed to St. Thomas, although its programming originates from London and targets all of southwestern Ontario.

Establish Media is the newest media outlet based in St. Thomas. They produce digital content which they distribute primarily through social channels.


There is a dragway called St. Thomas Raceway Park. The dragway is located a reasonable distance away from the town and minutes east of the historical community of Sparta.

Current franchises

Active sports teams in St. Thomas
St. Thomas Stars GOJHL Ice hockey Joe Thornton Community Centre19611
St. Thomas TomcatsJIBL Baseball Emslie Field1950N/A

St. Thomas has been home to semi-professional and professional sports franchises in baseball & hockey, the St. Thomas Storm (Intercounty Baseball League) and the St. Thomas Wildcats (Colonial Hockey League)


Climate data for St. Thomas, Ontario (1981−2010)
Record high °C (°F)14.5
Average high °C (°F)−0.8
Daily mean °C (°F)−4.7
Average low °C (°F)−8.5
Record low °C (°F)−31
Average precipitation mm (inches)73.5
Average rainfall mm (inches)35.2
Average snowfall cm (inches)38.3
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm)14.711.412.
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm)
Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm)
Source: Environment Canada [2]


St. Thomas railway station, built between 1871 and 1873. It is currently being restored. Railway Station St Thomas Ontario 2008.JPG
St. Thomas railway station, built between 1871 and 1873. It is currently being restored.

There are two major parks in the city: Pinafore Park in the south, beside Pinafore Lake; and Waterworks Park in the north, which is straddled by Kettle Creek and the Waterworks Reservoir nearby.

The Trans Canada Trail goes through St. Thomas, with a pavilion located in Jonas Street Park.

The Lions Club Dog Park is located at the far west end of main street, at 25 Talbot Road. The park is managed by the St. Thomas Dog Owners Association (STDOA) in partnership with the City of St. Thomas. The park is open from dawn to dusk, daily.

The Kettle Creek Dog Park, opened in July 2014, is located just north of St Thomas, off Highbury on Mapleton Line, 200 metres beyond Dan Paterson Conservation Area. The park is open daily from dawn to dusk and boasts a large fenced in park, a fenced-in area for small dogs and a separate fenced-in area for one-on-one play. The park is managed by Kettle Creek Conservation Authority in partnership with STDOA, the Municipality of Central Elgin and the City of St Thomas.

V.A. Barrie Park, located on Sunset Drive, and Waterworks Park include popular Disc Golf courses.

Cultural activities

The Elgin Military Museum is located in the west end of St. Thomas. While the museum recounts the stories of Elgin County residents from the War of 1812 to Afghanistan, it also includes two M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers and a collection of some 600 UN and NATO badges described by one appraiser as "the best collection I have seen outside of the UN in New York". In late 2009, The Elgin Military Museum began the process to acquire the Cold War Oberon Class Submarine HMCS Ojibwa, The submarine is planned to be stationed outside of St. Thomas in Port Burwell.[ citation needed ]

The Elgin County Railway Museum is located in central St. Thomas.

St. Thomas is also home to the North America Railway Hall of Fame, which is located in the CASO train station. The station was built in the 1870s and was a centre of travel between New York City and Chicago.[ citation needed ] It is located on Talbot Street downtown.

The Elgin Theatre Guild is located at 40 Princess Avenue, and is home to a thriving community theatre, as well as hosting small musical groups. The building is a former church, built in 1907 by architect Neil Darrach. In 2001, St. Thomas City Council designated 40 Princess Avenue as a building of historic and architectural value in the City of St. Thomas.[ citation needed ]

St. Thomas is home to the Railway City Brewing Company, one of 29 members of the Ontario Craft Brewers.

St. Thomas' sister city is Bowling Green, OH. [24]

Heritage buildings

As a county seat and major railway junction, St. Thomas was an important and vibrant town in early Ontario. As such, the city has a significant number of pre-1914 heritage buildings.





Lost heritage

Notable people

See also

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Old St. Thomas Church</span> Church

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