Originally the site of an Anishinaabe (Mississaugas) village in the 18th century known as Asukhknosk, the future location of the city was settled by United Empire Loyalists. It was first called Singleton’s Creek after an early settler, George Singleton, and then as Meyer’s Creek after prominent settler and industrialist John Walden Meyers, one of the founders of Belleville who built a sawmill and grist mill. It was renamed Belleville in honour of Lady Annabella Gore in 1816, after a visit to the settlement by Sir Francis Gore and his wife.
Another important family in the growth of Belleville was that of Henry Corby, the founder of H. Corby Distillery, who had arrived in 1832. He promoted the municipality and his son Henry Corby, Jr. (Harry) donated the public library, helped develop the park at Massassaga Point, established the Corby Charitable Fund, helped raise funds to build the first bridge across the Bay of Quinte and donated Corby Park.
In 1836 Belleville became an incorporated village. By 1846, it had a population of 2040. There were several stone buildings, including a jail and court house as well as some of the seven churches. Transportation to other communities was by stagecoach and, in summer, by a steamboat. Two weekly newspapers were being published. The post office received mail daily. Several court and government offices were located here. In addition to tradesmen, there was some small industry, three cloth factories, a paper mill, two grist mills, three tanneries and two breweries. Seventeen taverns were in operation. The oldest surviving residence inside the original boundaries, 67 South Front Street, was built by Alexander Oliphant Petrie in 1814.
Belleville became an important railway junction with the completion of the Grand Trunk Railway in 1856; this plus a booming trade in lumber and successful farming in the area helped increase the commercial and industrial growth. Belleville was incorporated as a town in 1850.
In 1858 the iron bridge over the Moira River at Bridge Street became the first iron bridge in Hastings County. By 1865, the population reached 6,000. Telephone service to 29 subscribers was in place by 1883; electricity became available in 1885 and in 1886, the town began to offer municipal water service. In 1870, Belleville became the site of Ontario’s first school for the deaf. Under Dr. Charles B. Coughlin, the school was recognized as making a significant contribution to special education. Originally called the Ontario Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb, the facility was first renamed Ontario School for the Deaf and then, in 1974, the Sir James Whitney School.
Belleville’s High Victorian Gothic town hall was built in 1873 to house the public market and administrative offices. The overall appearance is similar to the original even today. In 1877, Belleville was legally incorporated as a city. In 1998, the city was amalgamated with the surrounding Township of Thurlow to form an expanded City of Belleville as part of Ontario-wide municipal restructuring. The city also annexed portions of Quinte West to the west.
The Dixie Lee Fried Chicken chain (1964) and the Journey’s End Corporation economy limited service hotel chain (1978) were both founded in the city.
Belleville is located at the mouth of the Moira River on the Bay of Quinte in southeastern Ontario between the cities of Quinte West to the west and Napanee to the east. These cities are connected by both Ontario’s Highway 2 and the Macdonald-Cartier Freeway (Highway 401); The city is also served by Highway 37, running north–south from Belleville towards Tweed to the east of the Moira River; and Highway 62 (once Highway 14 south of 401), northwards towards Madoc, and southward to Prince Edward County over the Bay Bridge.
Belleville is located in a transitional zone which may be considered part of the Central Ontario or Eastern Ontario regions by different sources. Officially, Belleville is properly considered part of the Central Ontario region as it is located west of the St. Lawrence River’s starting point, but the city is popularly considered part of Eastern Ontario as it shares the eastern region’s area code 613 and K postal code.
In addition to the Belleville city centre, the city of Belleville also comprises a number of villages and hamlets, including the following communities: Bayshore, Cannifton, Corbyville, Foxboro, Frink Centre, Gilead, Halloway, Honeywell Corners, Latta, Loyalist, Philipston, Plainfield, Pointe Anne, Roslin (partially), Thrasher’s Corners, Thurlow, Thurlow South and Zion Hill.
Belleville’s climate has four distinct seasons. The city’s traditional humid continental climate (Dfb)(hot summers, cold winters) is moderated by its location near Lake Ontario. The lake moderates temperature extremes, cooling hot summer days and warming cold days during the fall and winter. Because of this, winter snowfall is somewhat limited due to the increased frequency of precipitation falling as rain during the winter months. In the summer months, severe thunderstorm activity is usually limited because of the non-favourable lake breeze conditions. The city, being located on the north shore of Lake Ontario, is also in an unfavourable location for lake effect snow. One notable exception, however, was in December 2010 when 14 cm of snow occurred in one day as a result of a snow band from Lake Ontario. The summer months do not typically experience exceedingly hot temperatures, however, humidity levels can make daytime highs uncomfortable. Summer rainfall is usually modest and delivered by passing thunderstorms or warm fronts. Remnants of tropical systems do pass through on occasion towards summer’s end, resulting in one or two days of consistently wet weather. The winter season is highly variable, with the record setting winter of 2007–08 experiencing near 270 cm of snow. Four years later, the winter of 2011–12 experienced only 60 cm of snow. Winter temperatures are also highly variable, even in one season. Air masses change frequently, and while a few days may see above freezing temperatures at a time in January, the next week may bring cold and snowfall. Autumn is usually mild, with an increase in precipitation starting in late September as conditions for fall storms develop. The highest temperature ever recorded in Belleville was 104 °F (40.0 °C) on 9 July 1936. The coldest temperature ever recorded was −39 °F (−39.4 °C) on 9 February 1934.
|Climate data for Belleville, 1981−2010 normals, extremes 1866−present
|Record high °C (°F)
|Average high °C (°F)
|Daily mean °C (°F)
|Average low °C (°F)
|Record low °C (°F)
|Average precipitation mm (inches)
|Average rainfall mm (inches)
|Average snowfall cm (inches)
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm)
|Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm)
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm)
|Source: Environment Canada
|The 1991 and 1996 populations are 44,858 and 45,069 respectively when adjusted to the 2001 boundaries. The 2001 population is 46,029 when adjusted to the 2006 boundaries.
Belleville is the largest urban centre in a much larger market area generally known as the Quinte Region. According to the 2020 World Population Review, the population of Belleville is 50,716, a 2.6% increase from 2011. The population density is 205.1 people per square km. The median age is 44.7 years old, a bit higher than the national median at 41.2 years old. There are 22,744 private dwellings with an occupancy rate of 95.6%. The median value of a dwelling in Belleville is $229,630 which is a fair bit lower than the national average at $341,556. The median household income (after-taxes) in Belleville is $53,365, somewhat lower than the national average at $61,348.
Belleville’s population is mostly of European descent. The racial make up of Belleville is 87.0% White, 7.4% Aboriginal and 5.6% visible minorities. The largest visible minority groups in Belleville are South Asian (1.5%), Black (1.0%), Chinese (0.6%) and Filipino (0.5%). Most of Belleville is either a Christian (67.1%), or affiliates with no religion (30.3%). The remaining 2.6% affiliate with another religion. In 2016, 91.7% of residents spoke English as their first language while 1.5% spoke French and 6% had a non-official language as their mother tongue.
Bridge Street United Church
Procter & Gamble, Kellogg’s, Bardon Supplies Limited, Redpath, Sigma Stretch Film Canada, Hexo Cannabis, Autosystems Manufacturing (Magna International), Amer Sports Canada, and Avaya (formerly Nortel) are corporations operating in Belleville. Many other manufacturing sector companies operate within the City of Belleville, including Bioniche Life Sciences, Sprague Foods, Airborne Systems Canada Ltd, Berry Plastics Canada, CPK Interior Products, Hanon (formerly Halla) Climate Control Canada, Reid’s Dairy, Parmalat Canada – Black Diamond Cheese Division and Norampac Inc.
Belleville is home to two shopping malls: The Bay View Mall in east-end Belleville and the Quinte Mall along Bell Boulevard (south of Highway 401) in North Belleville. In January 2017 a Shorelines Casino opened on Bell Boulevard.
Arts and culture
- Pinnacle Playhouse
- The Empire Theatre
- Moonpath Productions
- Quinte Sportsman Boat & RV Show
- Quinte Trash Bash
- 5k Fun Run
- Front Street Farmers Market
- Belleville’s Canada D’Eh
- Waterfront and Ethnic Festival
- Belleville Poutine Feast
- Quinte Ribfest
- Dragon Boat Festival
- Quinte Fall Fair and Exhibition
- Porchfest Belleville
- Belleville Festival of Trees
- Belleville Nighttime Santa Claus Parade
- Christmas at the Pier
The Belleville Senators play in the American Hockey League (AHL) that began play in the 2017–18 season as the top minor league affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Ottawa Senators. They play at the CAA Arena, formally Yardmen Arena, located on 265 Cannifton Road.
Belleville Bulls played in the Ontario Hockey League from 1981 to 2015. The team was then sold and relocated to Hamilton, Ontario. Belleville was also previously home to two senior hockey teams, the Belleville Macs and the Belleville McFarlands. Belleville is also home the Bay of Quinte Yacht Club, which challenged for the America’s Cup in 1881. Belleville also sports minor hockey league teams such as the Belleville Bearcats (female) and the Belleville Jr. Bulls (male).
The Belleville McFarlands were a men’s senior ice hockey team in the Ontario Hockey Association Senior division from 1956 to 1961. The McFarlands were Allan Cup champions in 1958, defeating the Kelowna Packers four games to three, and the World Championship in 1959. The team name was revived by a later team in the Eastern Ontario Senior Hockey League from 2003 to 2006, known as the Belleville Macs
Shannonville Motorsport Park has hosted rounds of the Canadian Touring Car Championship, the Canadian Superbike Championship and the CASC Ontario Region championships.
Belleville City Council
Local government is represented by Belleville City Council with a mayor and eight councillors. There are two city wards with Ward 1 (Belleville) represented by six councillors and Ward 2 (Thurlow) by two councillors. Ward 1 consists of the historic city and Ward 2 was created in 1998 with the amalgamation of Township of Thurlow. City Council sits at Belleville City Hall.
Belleville Police Service
The city has had its own police force since 1834, and constables since 1790. The force has about 116 members headed by a chief of police and a deputy chief. The service is stationed out of one location only. Policing on provincial highways is provided by the Ontario Provincial Police from the Napanee detachment.
Belleville is serviced by the 401 highway system, and bus service to and from Toronto Pearson International Airport is provided by Megabus. Deseronto Transit provides public transportation services to destinations including Deseronto, Napanee, and Prince Edward County.
Belleville is located on the Toronto-Montreal main rail lines for both Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway; both companies provide freight access. VIA Rail also operates five daily passenger services each way along its Windsor–Québec rail corridor.
Major routes in Belleville
- Highway 62
- Highway 37/Cannifton Road Parkway
- Highway 2/Dundas Street.
- Bell Boulevard/Adam Street
- College Street/Airport Parkway
The Academy of Learning College is a local college located on the east end of Belleville.
Loyalist College is a local public community college located on the border of Belleville and Quinte West on Wallbridge Loyalist Road.
The public school system is served by the Hastings & Prince Edward District School Board. The Catholic School system is served by the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board.
- Centennial Secondary School
- Eastside Secondary School
- Bayside Secondary School (Quinte West)
- Susanna Moodie Elementary School
- Parkdale Public Elementary School
- Queen Elizabeth Elementary School
- Prince of Wales Elementary School
- Harry J. Clarke Elementary School (French immersion)
- Queen Victoria Elementary School
- Sir John A Macdonald School
- Prince Charles Elementary School
- Foxboro Public School
- Bayside Elementary School] (French immersion}
- Harmony Public School
The following are Belleville area schools managed by the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board.
- Nicholson Catholic College
- St. Theresa Catholic Secondary School
- Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School
- St Michael’s Catholic School (French immersion)
- St Joseph’s Catholic School
- Georges Vanier Catholic School
- Holy Rosary Catholic School
Provincial demonstration schools
- Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf
- Sagonaska School
- Academy of Learning College
- Quinte Ballet School of Canada
- Quinte Christian High School
- Belleville Christian School
- Belleville Montessori School
- Albert College
- Belleville Intelligencer (Tuesday thru Saturday)
- Community Press (Every Thursday)
||Ici Radio-Canada Première
||Talk radio, public radio
||Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
||Rebroadcaster of CJBC (Toronto)
||95.5 Hits FM
||Hot adult contemporary
||United Christian Broadcasters Canada
||CBC Radio One
||Talk radio, public radio
||Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
||*Rebroadcaster of CBO-FM (Ottawa)
||Rebroadcaster of CICA-DT (Toronto)
||Part of Cogeco Community TV
- Quinte News
- QNet News
- The Belleville Local, a local site and mobile app
The City of Belleville has three sister city arrangements with communities outside of Canada which include:
- Lahr, Germany – established in 1971
- Gunpo, South Korea – established in 1996
- Zhucheng, People’s Republic of China – established in 1996
- Lee Aaron, hard rock and jazz singer. Best known for “Metal Queen”
- Marianne Ackerman, playwright, novelist, and journalist’
- Lauren Ash, actress best known for “Superstore”
- Drew Bannister, professional ice hockey defenceman
- Dennis Bock, novelist and short story writer
- Michael Botterill, professional Canadian football linebacker
- Sir MacKenzie Bowell, Canada’s fifth Prime Minister
- Wilfred Leigh Brintnell, a pioneering Canadian aviator
- James Brown, politician
- Stevie Cameron, award-winning investigative journalist and best-selling author
- James Collip, co-discoverer of insulin
- Matt Cooke, NHL hockey player
- Brander Craighead, football player
- Bob Crawford, retired NHL hockey player
- Lou Crawford, former OHL and AHL head coach
- Marc Crawford, NHL head coach
- Jack Devine, CJBQ sports commentator, and president of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association
- Bob Dillabough, retired NHL player with the Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins and the Oakland Seals
- Herbert Henry Dow, Dow Chemical, Born February 26, 1866
- Rick Green, retired NHLer
- Ellie Anne Harvie, actress
- Bobby Hull, Hockey Hall of Fame member
- Brett Hull, son of Bobby, Hockey Hall of Fame member (inducted 2009)
- Dennis Hull, Bobby’s younger brother, member of 1972 Team Canada
- Aislinn Hunter, poet and fiction writer
- Frances Itani, fiction writer, poet and essayist
- Avril Lavigne, Canadian singer/songwriter and actress, born in Belleville, moved to Napanee at age five
- James Frederick Lister, lawyer
- Norm Maracle, hockey goaltender
- James Marker, inventor of Cheezies
- Rick Meagher, retired NHL player
- Rick Mofina, author of crime fiction and thriller novels
- Susanna Moodie (1803–1885), author, moved to Belleville with her husband in 1840 after several years spent “roughing it in the bush” near Lakefield, Ontario
- Riyo Mori, Miss Universe 2007, spent her teenage years in Belleville, studying at Centennial Secondary School and at Quinte Ballet School of Canada
- Farley Mowat, author, born in Belleville
- William Barton Northrup, lawyer and politician
- Brian Orser, figure skater and coach
- Shawn O’Sullivan, 1984 Olympic silver medalist boxer
- Pete Quaife, bassist for The Kinks in the 1960s, lived in Quinte Region from 1980 to 2005
- Peter Quinney, Canadian football player, Toronto Argonauts
- Andrew Raycroft, NHL goaltender
- Brad Richardson, NHL forward
- Wallace Havelock Robb, poet and naturalist
- Alexander Milton Ross, abolitionist and agent for the Underground Railroad
- Johnny Rutherford, former Major League Baseball pitcher
- Nancy Anne Sakovich, actress and former model
- Mike Schad, National Football League offensive lineman
- Martin Seemungal, Foreign Correspondent CBC, ABC, CTV, PBS Newshour
- Andrew Shaw, NHL player, currently playing for the Chicago Blackhawks
- Derek Smith, NHL forward
- Harry Leslie Smith, British writer, political commentator and Royal Air Force veteran
- Matt Stajan, NHL forward resided in Belleville from 2000 to 2004
- Manly E. MacDonald, Semi-impressionistic painter
- Alex Stieda, former professional road bicycle racer
- Chris Valentine, former ice hockey player and coach
- Thomas Campbell Wallbridge, lawyer and politician
- John Weldon, animated movies director, Oscar Award winner (1979)
- Ed Westfall, retired NHL player
- The Wilkinsons, country music group
- Ty Wishart, professional ice hockey player
- Jerry Yanover, political advisor
- ^ Population is the sum of Belleville (city) 37,243, and Thurlow (township): 7,615
- ^ Population is the sum of Belleville (city): 37,083, and Thurlow (township): 7,986