Collingwood

The land in the area was first inhabited by the Iroquoian-speaking Petun nation, which built a string of villages in the vicinity of the nearby Niagara Escarpment. They were driven from the region by the Iroquois in 1650 who withdrew from the region around 1700. European settlers and freed Black slaves arrived in the area in the 1840s, bringing with them their religion and culture.

Collingwood was incorporated as a town in 1858, nine years before Confederation, and was named after Admiral Cuthbert CollingwoodLord Nelson's second in command at the Battle of Trafalgar, who assumed command of the British fleet after Nelson's death.

The area had several other names associated with it, including Hurontario (because it lies at the end of Hurontario Street, which runs from Lake Huron — of which Georgian Bay is a part — south to Lake Ontario), Nottawa, and Hens-and-Chickens Harbour, because of one large and four small islands in the bay.

In 1855, the Ontario, Simcoe & Huron (later called the Northern) Railway came into Collingwood, and the harbour became the shipment point for goods destined for the upper Great Lakes ports of Chicago and Port Arthur-Fort William (now Thunder Bay). Shipping produced a need for ship repairs, so it was not long before an organized shipbuilding business was created. On May 24, 1883, the Collingwood Shipyards, formally known as Collingwood Dry Dock Shipbuilding and Foundry Company Limited, opened with a special ceremony. On September 12, 1901, the Huronic, the first steel-hulled ship in Canada, was launched in Collingwood. The shipyards produced Lakers and during World War II contributed to the production of corvettes for the Royal Canadian Navy. Shipbuilding was one of the principal industries in the town, employing as much as 10% of the total labour force. However, overseas competition and overcapacity in shipbuilding in Canada led to the demise of shipbuilding in Collingwood in September 1986.

The creation of government incentive programs and a fully serviced industrial park made it possible for Collingwood to attract eleven new manufacturing firms to the town by 1971. Eight additional manufacturing companies had located in the town by 1983, making Collingwood the largest industrial employer in the region.