Windsor's riverfront didn't always look the way it does now

What is the riverfront park all about? How did it come about? We have the answer.

What is the riverfront park all about? How did it come about? We have the answer

Historian Elaine Weeks says great change to Windsor riverfront took place in in the 1950s and 1960s, when large buildings along the waterfront started to come down. Almost 25 years later, Windsor's riverwalk space opened to the public.

Ask CBC Windsor: It's a new series, brought to you by Windsor Morning and it's looking at all the things there are to know about the city.

We're taking questions from Windsorites — whether you've been here for a few weeks, a few years or for decades. 

Airet Bankole is from Nigeria and she arrived in Windsor last month — and she had questions about the riverfront. 

We asked long-time Windsor resident, historian and writer Elaine Weeks to give us the answer.

What is the riverfront park all about? How did it come about? We have the answer. 1:53

AIRET: What is the riverfront park all about? How did it come about?

ELAINE: If you're looking at recent history, there were railroad tracks that lined the river [before the park was there]. It looked like a no-go zone. In 1854, the train came to Windsor, connecting Windsor to the rest of the country. Consequently you went down by the river because it was the main transportation artery for this area. That's where people settled — that's how Windsor grew.

I would say change occurred in the 1950s to 1960s, when the buildings existing along the riverfront started to come down. The big change would have occurred in 1975. 

[My dad Bert Weeks] was the mayor of Windsor at that point and he was a firm believer in public space, green space. He felt that the river was our best asset. He felt there was an opportunity to create something special for the City of Windsor. 

He died in 1990 so didn't see his vision come true. The riverwalk, our trail, opened in 2000. I feel sad he didn't get to see it.

AIRET: What activities run all through the year?

ELAINE: There aren't enough trees to shade the area, there aren't enough lights. I feel that there's just not enough for people to really do. I would love to see more ways for people to interact with each other.

[My favourite things to do down there] are to enjoy the water, enjoy the park and look at the beautiful view of Detroit. Also look at the sunset over the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit. 

There are festivals all year ... and of course the fireworks are something special. 

Do you have questions about Windsor? Are you looking for answers about YQG? Drop us a line via email and we might put your question to a Windsor expert. 


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