Convenience you'll appreciate
Ryerson Commons' central location gives you the best of small town living. Within a few blocks you'll find grocery stores, pharmacies, doctor's and dentist's offices and a host of other professional services you depend on. A short stroll away is Cobourg's vibrant downtown with a delicious assortment of cafes and restaurants, specialty shops, an art gallery, seasonal farmer's market, live theatre, modern library, and the jewel in Cobourg's architectural crown, the historic Victoria Hall.
For the fun loving, Cobourg's central core features graceful parks, a white sand beach, a skating rink to enjoy in winter and a lakeside promenade, lawn bowling club and yacht club to enjoy in summer. Cobourg's waterfront and harbour area also plays host to the Canada Day weekend Waterfront Festival, an annual celebration that is one of the largest and most exciting waterfront festivals in Ontario.
A proud past, a promising future
Established in 1798, Cobourg is among the oldest towns in Ontario, a community steeped in tradition and proud of its past. It serves as the County Seat for Northumberland and has always played a pivotal role as a market town for the surrounding countryside.
First called Amherst by the original UEL settlers, on April 8, 1819, the settlement was renamed Cobourg to honour the marriage of Princess Charlotte Augusta, Princess of Wales, daughter of George IV, and Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saafield. The years that followed saw a steady rise in population and commerce as Cobourg became a major port for coal and iron ore, and also for passenger traffic and immigration. For many years a ferry operated from Rochester to Cobourg across Lake Ontario. This connection with our American cousins led to Cobourg's golden years as a resort town for wealthy industrialist families from the United States seeking the "healthful air" and high ozone content touted as an alternative to the smoke laden streets of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
Evidence of those glory days can still be seen in the many mansions built as summer homes for the rich that line King Street West. Local history reveals these elegant homes saw many extravagant parties, cotillions and fancy dress balls, most of which would surely eclipse even the most elegant and expensive parties today in their scope and magnificence.
All good things, however, do come to an end. After the first world war the wealthy industrialists could no longer afford the legions of staff needed to run their extravagant summer homes and Cobourg returned to a quieter existence. Many of the large homes were torn down or turned into apartment buildings, office space, or bed and breakfast accommodations. A good number still remain as a poignant reminder of a bygone era. What hasn't changed is Cobourg's reputation as one of the best places to live in Canada. Not only does it consistently enjoy some of the best weather in Southern Ontario, it has received a Best Cities Citation by the Globe & Mail on several occasions and also has been recognized in the Communities in Bloom competition with an award for its gardens and overall well-kept atmosphere.
Today Cobourg continues to grow and prosper. It has access to two major highways and is serviced by VIA rail allowing for easy travel to Montreal, Toronto and the international airport. Opened in late 2003, Cobourg's brand new state-of-the-art hospital features a CT Scanner and an MRI while the Northumberland Mall and many large scale stores such as Home Depot and Wal-mart provide all the shopping convenience of much larger centres.
Victoria College: An historical overview
In 1829 at the Conference of Methodists it was decided to establish a seminary for preparatory education for males and females in Cobourg. The cornerstone of Victoria College, which was known then as the Upper Canada Academy, was laid June 7, 1832. The official opening occurred four years later on June 18, 1836.
Egerton Ryerson was appointed Principal of Upper Canada Academy in 1839. On October 6, 1836 the Academy was granted a Royal Charter for its incorporation. The Academy provided co-educational, non-denominational preparatory education similar to the grammar schools of the time. In 1841 a Provincial Statute elevated the status of the Academy to a College. Thus on October 21, 1842 Victoria College started its first semester as a degree-granting institution. The College granted degrees in Arts, Science, Law, Medicine and Divinity.
From 1876 to 1878 a new building, called Faraday Hall, was built on campus to house the Science Department. Ryerson Commons is being developed on the land left vacant by the fire, which destroyed Faraday Hall in the mid-1900s. On November 20, 1892 an Act was passed by the Province that federated Victoria College with the University of Toronto. At this point the college professors and students moved to Toronto and the building which used to house the College became in turn a Provincial Asylum, a Military Hospital, an Ontario Hospital and a training centre for the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services. Today Victoria College is home to more than 40 seniors who enjoy daily social activities, fellowship and meals in the dining room and many other common areas within the 170-year-old building.