Ford City was a community in the Canadian province of Ontario, located within the municipal boundaries of Windsor. The community was founded by the Ford Motor Company in the early 1900s as a separate company town where Ford had a big plant at the corner of Riverside Drive and Drouillard Road, which at one point employed 14,000 people.
The boundaries east to west were Pillette Ave to Walker Road, and the north and south boundaries were Riverside Drive to Grand Marais Boulevard. Ford City's downtown main street was Drouillard Ave. The last remaining building of Ford is the engine plant. In 1935, Ford City merged with the City of Windsor, along with the towns of Sandwich and Walkerville.
The community of Ford City first made national headlines on August 22, 1917, when hundreds of French Canadian parishioners mourning the death of their nationalist pastor, Fr. Lucien Alexandre Beaudoin, formed a blockade refusing to admit their newly appointed priest, Fr. François Xavier Laurendeau, on the pretext that they believed he was in favour of the provincial school policy, Regulation XVII, which had severely restricted the use of French in the area`s bilingual schools. For more than two weeks, the parishioners mounted an around the clock blockade refusing the priest`s admission to the parish grounds and residence. On September 3, the Catholic Bishop of London, Michael Francis Fallon sent the parishioners an ultimatum: accept the new priest or face the closure of the church. The warning failed to produce any results. On Saturday, September 8, 1917, Fr. Laurendeau returned to the parish with a police escort of 12 constables. The protesters, who were tipped off by a phone call of their pastor`s impending return, rang the church bells, and the grounds were soon occupied by more than 3000 parishioners. When Laurendeau and his police escort arrived they faced a sizeable blockade. The police escort pulled out their billy clubs to make their path through the crowd. Amid the pushing, shoving and shouting, someone threw the first blow and a full-scale riot broke out. Through a shower of bricks, rocks, fists, brooms and clubs, the constables managed to reach the church residence. The mayor, Albert Maisonville was forced to read the Riot Act and call upon the military for back up. When the riot finally settled down, 9 men had been arrested, and 9 people had been seriously injured, including two elderly women who fiercely resisted the policy on the front steps of the church rectory with broomsticks. For more than a year, the parishioners boycotted masses celebrated by Laurendeau and appealed to Pope Benedict XV to replace him. In October 1918, the Vatican ordered the parishioners to accept the new pastor under pain of excommunication, ending the boycott. These events came to represent the culmination of the French-speaking community`s resistance to Bishop Fallon and his vocal support of the Ontario Government`s imposition of Regulation 17.
The area is also famous for the historic 99 day 1945 Ford Strike during which the workers fought to be unionized, and set up a blockade around the plant. The Rand Formula was created at the end of the strike where workers would have to pay union dues for having a union in their workplaces, which set the standard for all unions in Canada. Ford left Windsor for Oakville in 1953, closing the Riverside Dr. plant and leaving thousands unemployed as only the casting and engine plants remained.
The primary source for basic documents (vital statistics, land records, wills) for people who lived in the Province of Ontario is the Archives of Ontario, 134 Ian Macdonald Blvd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M7A 2C5.
Civil registration did not begin in the province until 1869. Before then there may be church records of baptisms and burials. For the most part these are still held by the denomination who recorded them. Copies of marriage records made pre-1869 had to be sent by individual clergymen to the registrar of the county in which the marriage took place. These marriage records are available through Ontario Archives, on micorfilm through LDS libraries, and on paid and unpaid websites, but because they were copied at the registrars' offices, they cannot be considered a primary source.
Vital Records after 1869
Birth, marriage and death registrations are not open to the public until a specific number of years after the event occurred. Births to 1915 are now available [October 2014]; dates for marriages and deaths are later. Birth and death registration was not universally carried out in the early years after its adoption. Deaths were more apt to be reported than births for several years. The more rural the area, the less likely it would be that these happenings were reported to the authorities.
Land Records and Wills
Information on how to access land records and wills is best sought on the Archives of Ontario website. An ancestor's land holding might be found on Canadian County Atlas Digital Project if he was in occupancy circa 1878.
Association for the Preservation of Ontario Land Registry Office Documents (APOLROD). A list of Land Registry Offices for all Counties of Ontario.
The original censuses are in the hands of Library and Archives Canada, known to Canadians as "LAC". Copies of original microfilms are online at the LAC website for all censuses up to 1911. Each census database is preceded with an explanation of the geographical area covered, the amount of material retained (some census division material has been lost), the questions on the census form, and whether there is a name index. Census divisions were redrawn as the population increased and more land was inhabited. The 1921 census is only available through Ancestry.ca, but it is free-to-view.
E-books and Books
Some websites with more local information on Essex County