The Trent River was known to the Mississauga as Sangichiwigewonk, or ‘fast flowing.’ It was named after the River Trent in England.
French explorer Samuel de Champlain followed the Trent passing through Trenton in 1615. The area around the mouth of the Trent River was first settled by Europeans in the 1780s. Assorted settlements and town plots in the area went under a number of names, until the Village of Trenton was incorporated in 1853. Trenton grew thanks to its port location and the area’s lumber industry. During the First World War, the town was home to a major munitions plant owned by the British Chemical Company. This facility was built in 1915 to manufacture artillery, rifle, and small arms ammunition. Three weeks before the Armistice, an explosion levelled the plant. Remains of the old plant can still be found today.
Trenton was also an important film production centre. In 1917, a film studio was built in the town and a number of productions were filmed there. In 1923, the Trenton Film Plant was purchased by the Ontario government to house the studio and laboratory of the Ontario Motion Picture Bureau. The advent of talkies and 16mm film made the equipment at the film plant obsolete and the facility closed in 1934.
The construction of a RCAF Station Trenton, a major Royal Canadian Air Force base just east of Trenton, started in 1929 and continued through the 1930s. This provided a major economic boost to the area through the Great Depression, the Second World War and later.
Trenton was incorporated as a city in 1980. On January 1, 1998, Trenton was amalgamated with the Village of Frankford and the Townships of Murray and Sidney to form Quinte West. Home to nearly half the population of Quinte West, Trenton is the largest community within the municipality, and is one of Ontario’s largest unincorporated settlements.
Good to know:
- Population 21,972
- Surrounded by many campsites and conservation areas
- A hot spot for sport fishing including walleye, bass pike and perch
- Home to the National Airforce Museum of Canada
- Schools in the area are serviced by the Public Board, Catholic Board, French Language Public School Board and the French Catholic Board