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“The town is named for HMS Ajax, a Royal Navy cruiser that served in World War II. “
What is the population of Ajax
Ontario’s population reached 14,745,040 on April 1, 2020, with an increase of 33,213 people during the first quarter of 2020. This compares to an increase of 42,548 in the same quarter of the previous year. * Emigrants plus net change in temporary emigrants minus returning Canadians.
Ajax was incorporated as a Town in 1955
Ajax was incorporated as a Town in 1955, but long before that, several small settlements and farms were found in the area. In 1941, the largest shell filling plant in the British Commonwealth was located in this area to provide supplies for the Allies in World War II. The founding of Defence Industries Limited (D.I.L.) was really the start of Ajax as we know it. As thousands of workers and their families settled in the immediate area, a community developed and a post office was needed, which meant the area needed a name. A competition among D.I.L. employees resulted in the name Ajax being chosen in honour of one of the three ships that, in 1939, had engaged and defeated the German battleship Admiral Graf Spee at the Battle of the River Plate near Uruguay.
After the War, the University of Toronto leased many of the D.I.L. buildings for a new flood of engineering students, and a new population base was added to the area. The community continued to grow and by the early 1950’s it was clear that it was time for incorporation as a municipality. Twenty years later, the small community of Pickering Village and parts of Pickering Township were amalgamated with Ajax, forming the Town’s current boundaries.
Town of Ajax Archives
In February 2010, Ajax Council formally established the Ajax Archives, to collect and preserve archival materials which illustrate or document the growth and development of the Town of Ajax. The history of the community that has become the Town of Ajax is as unique as it is diverse. The photos, artifacts and records which document the inception, growth and development of the municipality are a legacy to future generations. The preservation and conservation of the items in the Ajax Archives is an important step to ensuring this history is kept safe, and is accessible to the community.
The Ajax Archives is located at Town Hall, 65 Harwood Ave., S., and access is by appointment only. The display case in Town Hall is changed on an annual basis, providing the public with an opportunity to see the photos and artifacts relevant to the community history.
The Ajax Archives collaborated with the Ajax Public Library to digitize many of the photos, documents and history books in the collection. These are available through using the search bar and quick searches below, or by visiting the OurOntario website.
Town of Ajax History - In the Beginning
On September 10, 1939, Canada declared war on Germany. On that day, the present site of the Town of Ajax was peaceful rolling farmland nestled on the edge of Lake Ontario in Pickering Township. It had been to this area, 150 years prior, that the first white settlers had arrived to start their new life in a new land.
All this was to change very quickly. In 1941, this farmland became the site of Defence Industries Limited (D.I.L.), Pickering Works. Thus began a vast shell filling plant which before 1945 had:
filled 40 million shells; employed over 9,000 people at peak production; boasted of its own water and sewage treatment plants; a school population of over 600; 30 miles of railroad and 30 miles of roads. The entire D.I.L. plant site included some 2,985 acres. People came from all over Canada to work at D.I.L.
This enormous burgeoning war plant community needed a name. The name was supplied by the first significant British naval victory of World War II. From December 13 to December 19, 1939, a flotilla of British warships – HMS Ajax, HMS Exeter and HMS Achilles – commanded by Commodore Henry H. Harwood – engaged and routed the powerful German pocket battleship
Graf Spee at the Battle of the River Plate, near the Uraguayan port of Montevideo in South America. The name Ajax and the names of her sister ships became worldwide symbols of courage and determination. Ajax was chosen, therefore, as the name of this war-born community.
In 1945, World War II ended, but not Ajax. As the young veterans returned home, accommodation was required for thousands of additional university students. Consequently, the University of Toronto leased much of the D.I.L. plant to house the new flood of engineering students. War machines were moved out and the buildings were converted to classrooms and laboratories. The residences that had housed war workers now housed university students.
All the facilities of the University of Toronto were duplicated at Ajax. By 1949, the last year of the University of Toronto, Ajax Division, some 7,000 engineering students had received their basic training here.
But what was to become of Ajax? Many people who worked or lived in Ajax during D.I.L. or university days wanted to remain here. Due largely to the vision of George W. Finley of Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Ajax became a planned modern community using the war time base for its post-war foundation. Post-war Ajax began its growth.
Industry and people came from everywhere to take advantage of the many assets of Ajax – its schools, its churches, its hospital, its steam plant, its comprehensive planning, its geography – close to Toronto but setting a separate pace – and its friendly, industrious, involved citizens
Town of Ajax History - A Town is Born
The 1970s brought many vast changes to the Town of Ajax. On June 22, 1973, the Ontario Legislature enacted Bill 162 to amalgamate the Town of Ajax and the Village of Pickering and annex certain portions of the Township of Pickering to the Town of Ajax. The Village of Pickering and those parts of Pickering Township incorporated into the boundaries of the Town of Ajax have had illustrious histories of their own prior to the formation of Ajax. See Town of Ajax History – Founding of Pickering Village for a brief history of the Village.
The boundaries of the enlarged Town of Ajax now extended east to the Whitby town line (Lake Ridge Road), north to the south side of the fifth concession of Pickering Township and west to an irregular boundary immediately east of Brock Road. Ajax had grown from 2,985 acres to 16,729 acres, more than 5 1/2 times in size. Thus many new exciting and challenging political and planning problems faced the Council and the people. Ajax was no longer the small compact area it had been. It now took in large older, well-established areas, as well as much agricultural land.
Regional government brought in a new and different political structure. Ajax Council, which took office on January 1, 1974 as part of the Regional Municipality of Durham consisted of:
Mayor – Clark A. Mason
Regional Councillor – Mary A. Reid
Councillors: Henry G. Westney – Ward 1, Donald A. Lawrence – Ward 2, Owen G.
Ashley – Ward 3, Colin A. Mackie – Ward 4, James H. Bates – Ward 5
John C. Mackintosh was elected from Wards 1, 2 and 3 and Lucy Bateson from Wards 4 and 5 to represent Ajax on the Durham Board of Education. The representatives elected to the Separate School Board from Ajax were Gerald E. Noonan and D.C. “Jim” Laverty. As a result, Ajax went from a Council of nine consisting of a Mayor, Reeve, Deputy-reeve and six councillors elected at large to a Council of seven. Five of these councillors were elected by wards. With the introduction of regional government, the Town turned over the responsibilities for policing, water, sanitary sewage, social assistance and shared planning to the Region.
The Town of Ajax was represented on the Regional Council by the Mayor and one Regional Councillor until 1988 when the Provincial government approved one additional Regional Councillor to be elected from the Town of Ajax due to the tremendous population growth of the 1980s. In 2016 Regional Council approved the addition of a fourth Regional Councillor from Ajax as a result of continued growth in the community. This change came into effect for the 2018 municipal elections.
The people of the Town of Ajax have always taken great pride in their town planning. In 1972, the province approved the Town’s official plan. This was followed in 1978 by the approval of the Official Plan of Durham Region. 1978 was also an important year in
planning for Ajax for other reasons. First, it was in that year that the Ontario Municipal Board approved a new zoning or land-use by-law that consolidated four older zoning bylaws from previous jurisdictions. Second, Ajax Council approved the District Plan replacing three official plans from the former municipalities. All this was done to recognize the changes and to organize for future development.