Mohawk Amusement Park
The party at the edge of town.
Scott Egan, July 09, 2022 // Brantford, OntarioPainting of trolley operating through Mohawk Park in Brantford, Ontario. Stock Photo.
So, this one starts with a crown deed in 1836 on Hamilton Road, present day Colborne Street, granted to John Lovejoy. The lot stretched all the way back to Lovejoy’s Pond, later to be Mohawk Lake. At this time the area was considered far outside the city limits, which ended roughly at Stanley Street. The area was known as Lovejoy’s Grove until when, in 1894, the Brantford Street Railway Company (BSRC) leased the back 55 acres of the property in hopes of drawing tourists to the area — and it worked.
Opening on Queen Vicky’s birthday in 1895, the BSRC reported that an estimated 7500 people rode the trolley to the site that day (about half the population of the city at the time). Staying open in this form for the next 20 years, the park boasted lacrosse and baseball fields and concert and theatre productions. There was a golf course, canoe rentals, dances and Sunday school picnics. Even an early Emancipation Day celebration occurred here during this era in the park.
State-of-the-art, new-fangled amusement park rides. The merry-go-round, the ferris wheel and the razzle-dazzle (a sort of rudimentary roller coaster). All made out of wood, all powered by pre-electricity technology. Some top-notch bicycle paths and the addition of the street cars arriving right inside the park, it had it all. People even swam in the Mohawk Lake back then, on purpose. The park ran this way until 1915 when the BSRC entered into receivership and the city took possession of both the park and the trolley system and started operating both as public.
Historical photo of Mohawk Park complete with amusement park. Stock Photo.
Over 125 years on the park’s still a community lynchpin. The lacrosse fields are now soccer fields. The golf course is now disc golf. The trolley tracks are now road, and there’s no razzle-dazzle — just sprinkle-mania. It connects to all our history. As a teenager we would use it as a meeting place before mill parties (if you know, then you know) and as an adult we had my son’s first birthday party at the park.
It’s an important part of Brantford’s present as well. The playground and soccer fields are rarely empty. Brantford’s Pride festival is housed in the park every year. It’s still a goose place and I hope it’s the same or better for the future (maybe we could do something about the lake?).
My only advice is that when you go and enjoy the park, number one, clean up after yourselves, right? You know? And number two is get out of the park before nightfall. That’s when the raccoons take over and there’s no reasoning with them. Trust me.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Scott Egan, best described as an extroverted hermit. Scott is an afficionado of all things old, odd and esoteric. An avid reader and collector, he’s accumulated a backlog of legends and lore that he loves to share with most anyone who will listen. A father of two, Scott lives along with his feline soulmate amongst thousands of books and hundreds of objects of the strange and unusual.