Photo Du JourWindsor

Brighton Beach Through The Years

As readers of this website in its previous life might remember there was a large section on the Brighton Beach neighborhood in Windsor’s West End.

Over the last decade the area has been slowly decimated by the City of Windsor, who have been busy buying/expropriating all the homes in the area. Initially the plan was to turn the land into an industrial park, but the smart money is on this area being the home of the next Windsor-Detroit Bridge.

The history of the area is an interesting one. This story goes back to 1913, and the boom years before WWI. There was an ann0uncement made that a giant steel plant was going to be built in the town of Ojibway.

A giant real estate speculation frenzy erupted, with the area around the plant in the town of Ojibway was laid out, sub-divided and the lots put up for sale. People were excited by the prospect of investing in real estate in what was promised to be the “Gary, IN of Canada”.

In the end, the war killed the plans for the giant plant, and only a small plant was ever built. News of new developments came and went over the next 50 years, but nothing ever became of any of them. The town of Ojibway had a prohibition by-law on the books dating back to incorporation, making Ojibway a “dry” town. When the Windsor Raceway was built in the 1960’s, a referendum had to be held to repeal the by law. Only a handful of residents lived in the town, and the measure easily passed, and a bar was allowed at the raceway.

In the end, the only people who got rich off the Ojibway real estate boom were the real estate companies. Not only Ojibway was subdivided, but also the areas surrounding Ojibway also boomed. The adjacent areas of Sandwich West Township also were split up and subdivided. Brighton Beach was one of these areas; it was located on the eastern border with Ojibway.

One of the real estate companies that cashed in on the boom was the Page-Healy-Chappus Company. They were the ones responsible for Brighton Beach, and their names still appear on the names of the streets in the area.

Over the next week, I am going to sort though and re-upload many of the Brighton Beach photos I’ve shot over the years.

Below are several aerial views of the area, dating from 1949-2006. There have been many changes over the last 57 years. The 1949, 1961 & 1997 photo are from Detroit Edison, and the 2006 photo is from Google Earth.

1949, note the absence of trees in the area.

1961, the area is pretty well developed.

1997, is the beginning of the end. The built up area is about is dense as it ever got, and the expropriation began around this period.

2006, the Urban Prairie has taken hold. Only a small handful of houses remain in the area, dumping and arson is rampant.

Stay tuned for more later this week…

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