History of Pickering
French fur traders settled in Pickering in the mid 1600s. While their tenure here lasted only until the mid 1700s, their legacy lives on in the place names of Pickering including: Rouge River, Petticoat Creek (petit cote), and Frenchman’s Bay. When the Township of Pickering was formed in 1791, the name Pickering was most likely chosen by the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe, in honour of the Town of Pickering in Simcoe’s homeland in Yorkshire, England.
In the early 1800s, United Empire Loyalists and Quaker farmers from the United States began to settle in Pickering. These first pioneers struggled to clear their land of the dense forest that covered this area. Forestry and farming, were the staples of Pickering’s early economy. Saw and grist mills were set up throughout the township. Much of the lumber harvested here was used for ship building and exported to Britain through Frenchman’s Bay, on Lake Ontario.
Farming continued to be the staple of Pickering’s economy until after World War II, when industry took over, creating jobs and bringing more people to Pickering. By the 1960s, farms were being replaced by subdivisions and the population experienced dramatic growth. When the Regional Municipality of Durham was formed in 1974, Pickering was elevated to town status. In the year 2000, Pickering was officially incorporated as a city.