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Guest Post: How “The City of Roses” Got Its Name


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When hearing the city name of “Windsor,” most people automatically make the association between Windsor and Windsor Castle in Great Britain. But not only are there two different cities named Windsor in England, but there is also a city named Windsor in the province of Ontario in Canada.

This city is whimsically nicknamed the “City of Roses” and many tourists who are searching for hotels around Windsor discover this interesting fact completely by accident! Not only does Ontario’s Windsor have a charming nickname, but its residents are called “Windsorites,” a distinction that neither destination in England shares. Learn about this lovely area and decide for yourself if Windsor, Ontario, will become your own next travel destination.

What is it About Windsor?

Windsor, Ontario, is today recognized as the oldest continuously inhabited region in the province of Ontario. Prior to its current growth into the bustling mid-size city it is today, Windsor was, of course, for many centuries home to the First Nations peoples of Canada. The French were the first Europeans to settle and colonize the area that is now named Windsor, but this did not occur until 1749. Its new settlers at first named the area Petite Côte, which translates as “little coast” but later revised the name to La Côte de Misère, “poverty coast,” upon discovering Windsor’s inhospitably sandy soil. Throughout, from street names to architecture, the French influence on the region can still be detected. The city wouldn’t get its official name of Windsor until 1854 and wouldn’t rise from “township” to “city” status until 1892. In the interim, the American Revolution had taken place, the Grand Trunk Railway was built to connect Windsor to other locations throughout the country and the city’s first police force was established, all of which conspired to cement its status long-term.

Maybe It Was the Smell…

The “City of Roses” nickname arose from no mysterious origins, but quite simply because Windsorites are so fond of their rose beds. At one point there were so many rose beds planted and cultivated within the city limits, by private residents as well as the local city government landscapers in parks and along walkways, that the air itself carried a faint rose scent throughout the city. However, in 2009, the city moved to ban the use of pesticides; this impacted many types of roses so significantly that the population has been reduced to just half of what it once numbered. City officials and residents are hard at work developing and introducing new strains of roses known to be highly resistant to the type of pests and diseases that have plagued their more fragile cousins. Because of the ban on pesticides, it may take some time yet to reestablish the city’s nickname in fact as much as in history. However, because the tourist traffic to the area comes in part from the city’s fragrant reputation, replenishment of the rose beds is an important initiative for Windsor.

What’s in a Name in Windsor?

In the same way, the nickname of “Windsorite” for anyone who residents within the metro city limits or the rural areas surrounding Windsor city is not mysterious, but simply refers to the folks who hail from Windsor, Ontario (and not Windsor or Windsor in England). Even the residents apply the nickname fairly loosely, sometimes stretching it to include citizens of neighboring townships as well. There is much natural and man-made beauty to behold in the City of Roses; no trip would not be complete without viewing the city’s “theme rose,” the Liebeszauber, which translates as “Love’s Magic.” As well and as only befits a city named for its flora, there are a myriad of parks where you can admire the roses that make the city famous.

One of the most famous parks is called Coventry Gardens, a linguistic nod to the city’s English cousins and which features more than 10 acres of grounds for strolling, picnicking and relaxing. As well, the Art Gallery of Windsor is a great place to learn more about the artistic and cultural history of the country and the city, as is the Odette Sculpture Park, which houses 30 contemporary sculptures that enlighten you on more recent artistic endeavors by Canadian artists.

Image provided by Bluesy Belle from Flickr’s Creative Commons

6 comments… add one
  • Robert Herman Apr 9, 2015 Link

    ps, everywhere it says “Later to be renamed Windsor- after the town in Berkshire”, but nowhere does this event get explained. There was the “Battle of Windsor” in 1837, something to do with Pontiac’s rebellion perhaps, so the name existed before then at least.

  • Robert Herman Apr 9, 2015 Link

    “contiguously”, “Grand Turk”, “conspired to cement”, Really?? Is there more ? how about a little editing, since the foremost occupation of visitors to this site should be more than just sightseeing the pix 🙂 For that I imagine you want the real deal, tourists in person, right? What I am really after is when the name Windsor began to be used. There is reference about Windsor outgrowing Sandwich at the time the railway came in 1854, so it seems the use of the name precedes that.

    Regards, Robert Herman

  • aliyah Jan 21, 2015 Link

    why is Windsor called the city of roses seriously?

  • Tallulah Oct 25, 2012 Link

    I guess this Windsor in Ontario sets itself apart from the British one by the “Windsorite” distinction. I think that is just so neat! I could also think of far worse smells than the roses its famous for! Definitely on my radar now.

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