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Town of Tillsonburg
Connected. Enriched. Inspired.
Canada Southern Ontario location map 2.png
Red pog.svg
Coordinates: 42°52′00″N80°44′00″W / 42.86667°N 80.73333°W / 42.86667; -80.73333
Province Ontario
County Oxford
Settled1825 (as village)
Incorporated1872 (as town)
  Governing BodyTillsonburg Town Council [1]
  Town MayorDeb Gilvesy
  Deputy MayorDave Beres
List of councillors
  Land22.20 km2 (8.57 sq mi)
270 m (890 ft)
 (2021) [3]
  Density838.6/km2 (2,172/sq mi)
Time zone UTC-5 (EST)
  Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
Forward sortation area
Area code(s) 519 and 226
Website www.tillsonburg.ca

Tillsonburg is a town in Oxford County, Ontario, Canada with a population of 18,615 [2] located about 50 kilometres southeast of London, on Highway 3 at the junction of Highway 19.



Prior to European settlement, the present site of Tillsonburg was home to Indigenous tribes. The Tillsonburg Village Site, a 14th century Iroquoian village, was excavated in 2001 and 2008, in the northwest corner of the town, and contained 15 longhouses. [4]

George Tillson George Tillson.jpg
George Tillson

The area was settled in 1825 by George Tillson and other immigrants from Enfield, Massachusetts. A forge and sawmill were erected and roads built which led to the establishment of this small community, originally called Dereham Forge. [5] The settlement was on the Big Otter Creek.

In 1836 the village was renamed Tillsonburg in honour of its founder. It was also in this year that the main street, Broadway, was laid out to its full 100-foot (30 m) width. Because the village was predominantly a logging and wood product centre, the street was built to accommodate the turning of three-team logging wagons. This width is now unique to Ontario and has become a benefit toward handling the pressures of modern-day traffic by providing angled parking. The extension of Broadway north was called Plank Line and is now known as Highway 19.

The mid-19th century proved to be the first step in the industrialization of this municipality. A water system was devised to not only supply pure water for domestic use, but also to provide water power to such industries as a sawmill, planing mill, gristmill, spinning mill, pottery and a tannery. Many of these new establishments were either owned, started, or financed by George Tillson.

E.D Tillson EDTillson.jpg
E.D Tillson

In 1872 the village was incorporated as the Town of Tillsonburg, with Edwin Delevan Tillson elected as its first mayor. [5] The Town of Tillsonburg reached a population of 2,000 in 1885, experienced its first church dedication, and had its first telephone installation established. Electric power was first used in 1912 and automobiles began to appear on the market.

In 1915, a public library was built with funds provided by the Carnegie Foundation, and the town's Memorial Hospital opened in 1925.

In the 1920s, major enterprises included milk production, manufacture of shoes, tractors, textiles and an increased production of tobacco. The Tillsonburg Livingstons basketball team (representative of Tillsonburg's largest industry) won the Canadian Championships in 1952 and represented Canada in the 1952 Summer Olympics at Helsinki, Finland. CKOT Radio began broadcasting operations in 1955 and the Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Marketing Board opened its new auction exchange three years later.


Tillsonburg is one of eight municipalities that make up the County of Oxford. The mayor also represents the town as a County Councillor. [6] The county administers social programs, ambulance and paramedic services, planning, water and wastewater services, garbage and landfill operations and the County road system.

Tillsonburg is governed by an elected mayor, deputy mayor and five councillors. Council meets on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month in the Council Chambers in the Corporate Municipal Office. [1] They oversee staff and set policy for the various operations and services provided by the town.

The town also owns and operates:

Oxford County now owns and operates:


Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital Tillsonburg hospital.jpg
Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital

The town has one hospital accredited through the Ontario Ministry of Health. Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital is in the downtown area on Rolph Street. The TDMH serves the town and region. [7]


In the Town's Centennial Year (1972), the new $1,000,000 Community Recreation Complex was opened by the Governor-General of Canada. The Tillsonburg Museum was also opened in the old community centre on the shores of Lake Lisgar. A new 8,000-square-foot (740 m2) library was completed in 1975, and a second indoor skating rink was built in 1977, funded completely by donations from industry, commerce, service clubs, citizens and the Wintario lottery. In 1979, the hospital built a $7,000,000 addition for offices, improved x-ray and emergency departments, and an expanded Intensive Care Unit. A fire hall was constructed in 1979, replacing the old building which was demolished to make way for a downtown mall.

Tillsonburg Town Centre Mall Tillsonburgmall.jpg
Tillsonburg Town Centre Mall

The controversial Tillsonburg Town Centre Mall opened in 1980, where the former Town Hall once stood. The mall, a joint effort of the town and Trottier Investments, was built primarily to meet competition from out-of-town malls and keep more of the shopping dollar in town.

Annandale House AnnandaleHouse.jpg
Annandale House

In 1983, two important buildings - Annandale House (built by the founding Tillson family) and the Hale Street railway station became public buildings. The former would be restored as a house museum, while the latter became The Station Arts Centre.

A residential development geared for seniors, named Hickory Hills, began selling homes in 1986. [8] The development significantly added to the town's population and increased the pool of volunteers for local non-profit agencies.

In 1991, a food bank was established for the community's needy and continues to be operated on a volunteer basis.

Throughout the early 1990s, volunteers were also busy on the Lake Lisgar Renaissance Project, which sought to revitalize the lake, and make the park around the lake more attractive with the construction of a gazebo, water fountain and walkways into the lake.

In that period two major entertainment outlets closed: the Skylark Drive-In and the Strand movie theatre, victims of the video store arrival. The original angled marquee architecture of the Strand Theatre is still intact but the building is again unoccupied after brief stints as businesses. To the relief of many, big screen movies came back in Tillsonburg in 1996 with the opening of Broadway Cinemas.

In 1994, the downtown area was significantly enhanced with the construction of the Rotary Club Clock Tower, which incorporated a clock from the town's former Post Office, and a bell from the demolished Town Hall. Soon, it became a community tradition (sponsored by the Rotary Club) for local residents to gather at the Clock Tower to ring in the New Year with fireworks, hot apple cider and the dropping of a ball.

Further development of residential senior's focused development began in 2001 with the Baldwin Place subdivision located on the western periphery of the town. This development which is in Phase 8 will have approximately 300 homes when completed.

The Tillsonburg Community Centre was refurbished in 2004 with renovations and enlargement of the main ice surface to NHL size. The project's scope of work included keeping the whale-back roof as a key architectural feature as well as to increase seating and provide for new recreation and health club facilities.

Residential development includes the re-urbanization of the former railway lands on Bridge Street East which is the site of Tillson Landing condominium, the first such highrise construction in more than a decade.

Industry and economy

Tillsonburg serves a regional tri-county area of 65,000 people at the convergence of Oxford, Elgin and Norfolk counties. The industrial base has become quite diverse during the decline of the once prominent tobacco industry. The area is home to several branch plants of major US and internationally based automotive suppliers including Autoneum Canada Ltd, THK-TRW, Marwood Metal Fabrication Ltd and a new site for Armtec. There are many service-related industries including Future Transfer Co. Inc, Inovata Foods, E & E McLaughlin, J/E Bearing Ltd., Fleetwood Metal Products, and MIL-SIM-FX International Inc.

The town has a very active and developing downtown core area which includes the Tillsonburg Town Centre mall, built in 1980 and big box stores including Canadian Tire, Shopper's Drug Mart and Staples. Newly expanded The Source store and Mark's Work Wearhouse are in the Tillsonburg Town Centre Mall.

All of the major Canadian banks have branches in the town and there is also a credit union.

The town is served by three grocery stores: Sobeys, Zehrs and Metro.

Tillsonburg is served by three radio stations; the New Country 107.3 (107.3 CJDL FM), Country 1510 (1510 CKOT AM), Easy 101 (101.3 CKOT FM) and two newspapers: 'Norfolk & Tillsonburg News.

The town has been positively impacted by the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, 22 kilometres north of the town, which opened in 1986. The CAMI plant, owned by General Motors of Detroit, Michigan, has been retooled to produce the BrightDrop series of all-electric delivery vans.

The area also has a strong agricultural community with cash crops, hog farming, milk production, tobacco, ginseng and various tertiary crops (including watermelons).

The town has recently become a hub for regional operations of the Ontario Provincial Police including Oxford County Division Headquarters and also the Southwestern Ontario Forensics laboratory which opened in April 2008.


In January 2006 the National Post listed Tillsonburg as number 75 on the top 100 places to visit in Canada. [9] Annandale House was designated a Canadian National Historic Site in 1997. [10]

Tillsonburg is home to three barn quilts. One is on the north end of town on the side of a furniture store, shaped as a barn. Another one is on the grounds of Station Arts in front of the caboose and the third quilt is on the original Pea & Barley Mill, built in 1878 by E.D. Tillson, son of the town's founder and opened in 2009 as the Mill Tales Inn beside the Otter Creek featuring a restaurant and inn. These barn quilts make up part of the Barn Quilt Trail in Southwest Ontario. [11]

Another attraction is the Station Arts Centre, a multi-use facility which was created from two historic train stations that were joined together by a central gallery. It has been home to artistic, cultural and technical groups since its founding in 1983. [12] It is also home to the Saturday morning Tillsonburg Farmers' Market which operates from May to November. [13]

A number of organizations across Tillsonburg collaborate in putting together events such as Turtlefest, the Week of Remembrance and the Tillsonburg Country Christmas Festival.

Camping is available north of town at Casey's Park on Highway #19 north of Mount Elgin, which is the home of weekly Country Music Jamborees between Victoria Day and Labour Day, where audience members are encouraged to participate on stage.

Lake Lisgar, a small lake in the centre of town, has been rehabilitated and is home for the Tillsonburg Rowing Club and the Lake Lisgar Water Park.


Elementary and secondary schools

Tillsonburg elementary and secondary schools are under the control of two school boards, the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) and the London District Catholic School Board (LDCSB).

Special service schools


In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Tillsonburg had a population of 18,615 living in 8,229 of its 8,494 total private dwellings, a change of

Tillsonburg Population By Age [14] Compared To Oxford County [15]
TillsonburgOxford County
Total - All Persons14,8206,9957,830102,75550,46052,295
0 - 47653803855,9453,0752,870
5 - 97503953556,5103,3053,210
10 - 148804354457,3903,8053,585
15 - 198704354307,2753,6853,590
20 - 248604454156,3203,2353,085
25 - 298253954305,5002,7552,740
30 - 347853904006,0453,0353,005
35 - 398754404356,6453,3003,345
40 - 441,0204855408,3954,1204,275
45 - 491,0704905858,1053,9704,140
50 - 549504455107,2103,6253,585
55 - 598904254656,4253,1953,225
60 - 648603854805,0152,4652,555
65 - 698053754304,2652,0452,220
70 - 748403654703,8051,7602,050
75 - 797353254153,2801,4501,830
80 - 846352603702,6301,0701,570
Median Age43.941.945.839.838.640.9
 % Over 1583.982.784.980.779.881.5
Tillsonburg Population By Marital Status [16] Compared To Oxford County [17]
TillsonburgOxford County
Marital StatusTotalMaleFemaleTotalMaleFemale
Total - Population 15 years and over12,4255,7806,64582,91040,28042,625
Tillsonburg Population By Language(s) Understood [18] Compared To Oxford [19] County
TillsonburgOxford County
Total - All Persons14,6356,9307,705101,46050,07051,385
English Only12,4605,9006,56589,87544,39545,485
French Only210901201,100495610
Both English And French601050953555
Other Languages1,9509351,01010,3805,1455,235
Tillsonburg Population By Ethnicity (2006) [20] Compared To Oxford County [21]
TillsonburgOxford County
Total - All Persons14,6356,9307,705101,46050,07551,385
Visible Minority Population5852703152,5551,3201,230
South Asian201010265125140
Latin American1510101105060
Southeast Asian320150170465215250



Though not directly on the route, Highway 401 passes close to the town, and is connected to it by Highway 19, at exit 218. Greyhound no longer has weekly bus service to and from Tillsonburg. T:GO Transit provides weekday local and out-of-town bus service to Woodstock, Ingersoll, and other neighbouring communities. [22]


The Town of Tillsonburg rail service had been served by the St. Thomas & Eastern Railway, [23] a division of Trillium Railway, which ran in most cases parallel to Highway 3 in the south end of the town on the former Canadian National Railway Cayuga subdivision, previously the Great Western Railway's Canada Air Line. Service on the STER was daily, Monday to Friday, but ceased operation in 2013. However, GIO Rail resumed service on January 4, 2022. [24]

The Ontario Southland Railway [25] also serves Tillsonburg using the former CPR Port Burwell subdivision running from nearby Ingersoll, parallel to Highway 19 north of town, and then into the north-east end of town. The OSR interchanges with the STER at the south end of town.

Passenger train services are provided by Via Rail stations in nearby Ingersoll or Woodstock.


The town is served by the Tillsonburg Municipal Airport, owned and operated by the Town of Tillsonburg. The airport is 7 km north of the town in Southwest Oxford Township. The airport is home to several aviation-related businesses. The airport has 3 runways, with the primary runway being re-constructed and extended to 5,500 feet, constructed of asphalt. [26] Its terminal building houses a flying school and has a cafe, lounge, patio and viewing area. [27] The airport is used by corporate aircraft including jets. Regular users of the airport also include the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association, Air Ambulance, Canadian Coast Guard, the Ontario Provincial Police and other government agencies.




FrequencyCall signBrandingFormatOwnerNotes
FM 88.7 CBCL-FM-1 CBC Radio One Talk radio, public radio Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Rebroadcaster of CBCL-FM (London)
FM 101.3 CKOT-FM Easy 101.3 Adult contemporary Rogers Media
FM 107.3 CJDL-FM Country 107.3 Country music Rogers Media



Notable people

Stompin' Tom Connors and The Cash Brothers have each written and recorded songs entitled "Tillsonburg". [34] [35]

Historical churches

Historical schools

Historical/architectural resources

Plaques and monuments

Cultural resources

Natural areas and parks

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