Windsor is the southernmost city in Canada and is located in Southwestern Ontario at the western end of the heavily populated Quebec City–Windsor Corridor. It is within the Essex, Ontario Census division, although administratively separated from the county government. Separated by the Detroit River, Windsor is located south of Detroit, Michigan in the United States. Windsor is known as The City of Roses and residents are known as Windsorites.
Windsor's Department of Parks and Recreation maintains 3,000 acres (12 km2) of green space, 180 parks, 40 miles (64 km) of trails, 22 miles (35 km) of sidewalk, 60 parking lots, vacant lands, natural areas and forest cover within the city of Windsor. The largest park is Mic Mac Park, which can accommodate many different activities including baseball, soccer, biking, and sledding. Windsor has numerous bike trails, the largest being the Ganatchio Trail on the far east side of the city. In recent years, city council has pushed for the addition of bicycle lanes on city streets to provide links throughout the existing trail network.
The Windsor trail network is linked to the LaSalle Trail in the west end, and will eventually be linked to the Chrysler Canada Greenway (part of the Trans Canada Trail). The current greenway is a 42 km former railway corridor that has been converted into a multi-use recreational trail, underground utility corridor and natural green space. The corridor begins south of Oldcastle and continues south through McGregor, Harrow, Kingsville, and Ruthven. The Greenway is a fine trail for hiking, biking, running, birding, cross country skiing and in some areas, horseback riding. It connects natural areas, rich agricultural lands, historically and architecturally significant structures, and award winning wineries. A separate 5 km landscaped traverses the riverfront between downtown and the Ambassador Bridge. Part of this trail winds through Odette Sculpture Park, displaying various modern and post-modern sculptures from artists in Essex County. Families of elephants (see picture), penguins, horses, and many other themed sculptures are found in the park.
Windsor's economy is primarily based on education, manufacturing, tourism, and government services. Both the University of Windsor and St. Clair College are significant local employers and have enjoyed substantial growth and expansion in recent years. The recent addition of a full-program satellite medical school of the University of Western Ontario, which opened in 2008 at the University of Windsor is further enhancing the region's economy and the status of the university. The university is currently constructing a $112 million facility for their Engineering Faculty. Windsor has a well-established tourism industry. Caesars Windsor (formerly Casino Windsor), one of the largest casinos in Canada, ranks as one of the largest local employers. It has been a major draw for U.S. visitors since opening in 1994. Further, the 1,150-kilometre (710 mi) Quebec City – Windsor Corridor contains 18 million people, with 51% of the Canadian population and three out of the four largest metropolitan areas, according to the 2001 Census.
The city also boasts an extensive riverfront parks system and fine restaurants, such as those on Erie Street in Windsor's Little Italy called "Via Italia", another popular tourist destination. The Lake Erie North Shore Wine Region in Essex County has enhanced tourism in the region.
Windsor is the headquarters of Hiram Walker & Sons Limited, now owned by Pernod Ricard. Its historic distillery was founded by Hiram Walker in 1858 in what was then Walkerville, Ontario. Windsor is one of Canada's major automobile manufacturing centres. However, plant closures and significant job losses in recent years have impacted Windsor's automotive manufacturing industry. The city is home to the headquarters of Chrysler Canada. Automotive facilities include the Chrysler minivan assembly plant, two Ford Motor Company engine plants, and a number of tool and die and automotive parts manufacturers.
The city's diversifying economy is also represented by companies involved in pharmaceuticals, alternative energy, insurance, internet and software. Windsor is also home to the Windsor Salt Mine and the Great Lakes Regional office of the International Joint Commission.
Windsor is home to the University of Windsor, which is Canada's southernmost university. It is a research oriented, comprehensive university with a student population of 16,000 full-time graduate and undergraduate students. Now entering its most ambitious capital expansion since its founding in 1963, the University of Windsor recently opened the Anthony P. Toldo Health Education & Learning Centre, which houses the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. As well, with the help of $40 million in Ontario government funding, the University is currently building a 300,000-square-foot (28,000 m2), $112-million Centre for Engineering Innovation; a structure that will establish revolutionary design standards across Canada and beyond. Construction is scheduled to be completed by Fall 2012.
The university is just east of the Ambassador Bridge, south of the Detroit River. Windsor is also home to St. Clair College with a student population of 6500 full-time students. Its main campus is in Windsor, and it also has campuses in Chatham and Wallaceburg. In 2007, St. Clair College opened a satellite campus in downtown Windsor in the former Cleary International Centre. In April 2010, St. Clair College added to its downtown Windsor presence with the addition of its MediaPlex school. Together, they bring over one thousand students into the downtown core every day. More recently Collège Boréal opened an access centre and small campus to their Ouellette avenue location. This small campus offers access to many Collège Boréal programmes as well as immigration and integration assistance for francophones in the area. Collège Boréal is Windsor's only francophone post-secondary institution, providing service for a small, but notable, population of Franco-Ontarians within the Windsor-Tecumseh-Belle River area.
In Spring 2011, it was announced that the University of Windsor would move its music and visual art programs downtown to be housed in the historic Armouries building at Freedom Way and University Ave E. The move should bring an additional 500 students into the downtown core daily. The University is also studying the feasibility of moving the School of Social Work to the Windsor Star buildings at the corner of Pitt and Ferry streets. Windsor is home to two International Baccalaureate recognized schools: Assumption College School (a Catholic high school) and Académie Ste. Cécile International School (a private school). Vincent Massey Secondary School is renowned in Southern Ontario for its notable accomplishments nationally in mathematics and computer science.
Windsor youth attend schools in the Greater Essex County District School Board, the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, Conseil scolaire de district des écoles catholiques du Sud-Ouest and Conseil scolaire Viamonde. Independent faith-based schools include Maranatha Christian Academy (JK-12), Académie Ste. Cécile International School (JK-12, including International Baccalaureate), First Lutheran Christian Academy (JK-8), and Windsor Adventist Elementary School. The non-denominational Lakeview Montessori School is a private school as well. The Windsor Public Library offers education, entertainment and community history materials, programs and services. The main branch coordinates a literacy program for adults needing functional literacy upgrading.
Windsor is the western terminus of both Highway 401, Canada's busiest highway, and Via Rail's Quebec City–Windsor Corridor. Windsor's Via station is the nation's sixth-busiest in terms of passenger volumes. The city is served by Windsor Airport with regular, scheduled commuter air service by Air Canada Jazz, Porter Airlines and heavy general aviation traffic. The Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport is located approximately 40 km across the border in Romulus, Michigan and is the airport of choice for many Windsor residents as it has regular flights to a larger variety of destinations than Windsor Airport. Windsor is also located on the St. Lawrence Seaway, and is accessible to ocean-going vessels.
Public Transportation is provided by Transit Windsor, the city-owned bus company, operating several bus routes through the city as well as providing transportation for many of the city's secondary school students. Transit Windsor shares its newly constructed $8-million downtown depot with Greyhound Lines. The new depot opened in 2007. A street car line was proposed in 2011 as a way to increase east to west connections into downtown, but was quickly shot down by Transit Windsor weeks later during a strategic planning session. "Street cars are just too expensive to include in Windsor's transit future."
Main article: E.C. Row Expressway
Windsor has a municipal highway, E.C. Row Expressway, running east-west through the city. Consisting of 15.7 km (9.8 mi) of highway and nine interchanges, the expressway is the fastest way for commuters to travel across the city. E.C. Row Expressway is mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records as the shortest freeway that took the longest time to build as it took more than 15 years to complete. The expressway stretches from Windsor's far west end at Ojibway Parkway east to Banwell Road on the city's border with Tecumseh.
The majority of development in Windsor stretches along the water instead of in-land. As a result, there is a lack of east-west arteries compared to north-south arteries. Only Riverside Drive, Wyandotte Street, Tecumseh Road and the E.C. Row Expressway serve the almost 30 kilometres (19 mi) from the west end of Windsor eastward. All of these roads are burdened with east-west commuter traffic from the development in the city's east end and suburbs further east. There are eight north-south roads interchanging with the expressway: Huron Church Road, Dominion Boulevard, Dougall Avenue, Howard Avenue, Walker Road, Central Avenue, Jefferson Boulevard, and Lauzon Parkway. Traffic backups on some of these north-south roads at the E.C. Row Expressway are common, mainly at Dominion, Dougall, Howard, and Walker as the land south of the expressway and east of Walker is occupied by Windsor airport and there has been little development.
Windsor's many rail crossings intersect with these north-south thoroughfares. In October 2008, the Province of Ontario completed a grade separation at Walker Road and the CP Rail line. Another grade separation was completed in November 2010 at Howard Avenue and the CP Rail line. In both cases, the road travels under the rail line and both have below grade intersections with an east-west street. These were planned as parts of the "Let's Get Windsor-Essex Moving" project funded by the Province of Ontario to improve local transportation infrastructure. Windsor is connected to Essex and Leamington via Highway 3, and is well connected to the other municipalities and communities throughout Essex County via the county road network. Nearly 20,000 vehicles travel on Highway 3 in Essex County on a daily basis. It is the main route to work for many residents of Leamington, Kingsville and Essex.
Windsor is linked to the United States by the Ambassador Bridge, the Detroit–Windsor Tunnel, a Canadian Pacific Railway tunnel, and the Detroit–Windsor Truck Ferry. The Ambassador Bridge is North America's No. 1 international border crossing in terms of goods volume: 27% of all trade between Canada and the United States crosses at the Ambassador Bridge. Windsor has a bike trail network including the (Riverfront Bike Trail, Ganatchio Bike Trail, and Little River Extension). They have become a blend of parkland and transportation, as people use the trails to commute to work or across downtown on their bicycles.