Lambton County

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 History of Lambton 

Lambton's Early History

To see some of Lambton's history, as told by the Ontario Visual Heritage Project, please visit www.visualheritage.ca/lambton.

The territory now called by the name of the County of Lambton, was originally part of the District of Hesse, which was bounded, according to the Proclamation of his Excellency the Governor-General, Guy, Lord Dorchester, dated 24th of July, 1788, in the twenty-eighth year of the reign of His Majesty, George III.

In 1791, the Lieutenant-Governor, in the absence of the Governor-General, received power to divide the Province into Counties and Districts. His Excellency, the Lieutenant-Governor, Colonel John Graves Simcoe, by proclamation dated 16th of July, 1792, divided the Province of Upper Canada into nineteen counties, namely: Glengarry, Stormont, Dundas, Grenville, Leeds, Frontenac, Ontario, Addington, Lennox, Prince Edward, Hastings, Northumberland, Durham, York, Lincoln, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent.

All the territory now known as the County of Lambton, was then part of the County of Kent, which by Proclamation, was to be represented by two members in the Legislative Assembly of Canada; but by the Redistribution Act (Upper Canada) 40 George III, Chapter 3 passed the 4th of July 1800, the County of Kent was to be represented by one member only.

By 32 George III, (Upper Canada) Chapter 8, Section 5, passed the 15th of October, 1792, the name of the District was changed, and thereafter it was called The Western District.

By 38 George III, Chapter 5, (1798) assented to 1st of January, 1800, Essex and Kent, together with so much of the Province as is not included within any other district thereof, "were formed into the Western District".

By 2 George IV, Chapter 3, Section 12, passed the 14th of April, 1821, (being the first Session that year) the following new Townships in the Western District were attached to the County of Kent namely: The Townships of Zone, Dawn, Sombra and Saint Clair. The last named Township was changed to Sarnia, probably in Sir John Colborne's time, 1839, as that was the Roman name of the island of Guernsey, with which Sir John was identified.

By 4 William IV, Chapter 55 (1834) assented to the 5th of May, 1835, a certain tract of land situated in the Western District had been surveyed and marked into Townships. The Townships of Moore and Sarnia (formerly St. Clair), Enniskillen, Warwick, Brooke and Bosanquet were attached to and formed part of the County of Kent, in the Western District. The revised Statutes of 1841 contain no mention of Lambton.

On January 1st, 1842, a District Council for the Western District was formed, and it met for the first time at Sandwich February 11th, 1842 with representatives from Essex and Kent, of which the latter County, the territory now known as Lambton then formed part.

By 10 and 11 Victoria, Chapter 39, assented to the 9th of July, 1847, the County of Kent ceased to be part of the Western District and became known as the District of Kent.

By 12 Victoria, Chapter 78, assented to 30th of May, 1849, Districts were abolished and by Section 30, Kent and "Lambton" were formed as provisional Counties. By Section 31, the Governor of the Province was to issue a Proclamation dissolving the union between the United Counties of Kent and Lambton and the County of Essex. This is the first time the name "Lambton" as a County appears officially.

Under this Act, certain Counties were to remain united until the Junior County should have a population of not less than fifteen thousand, in which case it became entitled to a separate establishment of County and County institutions. Kent and Lambton were united, Lambton being the Junior County, but from its geographical position it was deemed expedient to make provision for its separation, before it had attained its geographical population to entitle it to sever the union.

By 12 Victoria, Chapter 79, assented to May 30th, 1849, the County of Lambton was declared to include the Townships of Brooke, Dawn, Bosanquet, Enniskillen, Euphemia, Moore, Plympton, Sarnia, Sombra, and Warwick and were united with Kent for the purpose of representation in the Legislative Assembly of Canada and a union of Counties made amongst Kent, Lambton and Essex.

The County of Kent withdrew in 1851, and Essex and Lambton were then known as "The United Counties of Essex and Lambton".

The County of Lambton was officially recognized by the Legislature in 1849. Numerous petitions were presented requesting that the northern Townships of Kent be established into a separate District. In 1850 a petition was presented from Enniskillen Township petitioners and others from the Townships of the Western District that a new District be set apart with Port Sarnia as the District Town, which came to be.

There is a reason why the name "Lambton County" "grew" instead of being officially born in the usual way. Under the Union Act of 1840, Each Province (Upper and Lower Canada) had to have an equal number of members (65) in the Legislative Assembly. The Canadian Parliament did not posses the power to alter this except by increasing the number of both Provinces.

Many attempts were made to have the District divided (or a new District formed), containing the Northern Townships of Kent, between 1841 and 1849, but no name seems to have been given to it.

Finally, on October 7th, 1848, Mr. James Smith, Chairman of the Committee to draft a petition to the Legislature, presented a petition to have the ten Northern Townships consisting of Bosanquet, Plympton, Warwick, Sarnia, Brooke, Enniskillen, Moore, Sombra, Dawn and Zone, set apart and constitute the New District, as soon as the population amounted to 7,000.

On the 28th day of February, 1852, a Provisional County was authorized, by Order of the Governor-in-Council, and on the 15th day of April, 1852, the first meeting of the Provisional Council of the County of Lambton was held at Port Sarnia, now Sarnia. It had not yet the full status of a County Council, as the union of Essex still subsisted.

On the 30th day of September, 1853, the union between Essex and Lambton was dissolved. On the 24th day of October, 1853, the first meeting of the County Council of the County of Lambton took place in Port Sarnia, now Sarnia, and from the 30th day of September 1853, the County had the full status of a County Council.

The partial municipal independence, therefore, of Lambton dates from the year 1852 when it withdrew its connection with Essex, for all except County Council purposes, and was formed into a "Provisional County". Its full independence dates from the 30th of September, 1853 when it became a complete County.

Lambton - Post 1853

Little changed in the formal structure of the County Council between 1853 and early 1990. Apart from relatively minor boundary adjustments and the withdraw by the City of Sarnia from a two tiered (upper and lower tier) level of government in 1914, the County remained essentially the same until municipal restructuring initiatives took place in the late 1980's.

On July 13, 1989, Bill 35, "An Act respecting the amalgamation of the City of Sarnia and the Town of Clearwater and the addition of the amalgamated City to the County of Lambton" was passed. As a result of this Act, the City of Sarnia was amalgamated with the Town of Clearwater (Formerly Sarnia Township) and together, the new municipality of Sarnia-Clearwater rejoined a two-tiered system of government.

Bill 35 also brought about a major shift in responsibilities for providing municipal services. The County assumed responsibility for providing facilities for the disposal of waste (i.e. landfill sites). As well, additional roads were added to the County roads system. The County also acquired responsibility for an additional Home for the Aged (Marshall Gowland Manor). It also became responsible for the Lambton Health Unit (now known as the Community Health Services Department), as well as administration of a full court, library system (including Sarnia Library), social services, and an art gallery (Gallery Lambton).

Further significant changes to County government occurred in the late 1990's as a result of provincial downloading of services. The County assumed administration of its provincial offences court. It also gained responsibility for additional highways from the province. Emergency Medical Services (ambulances) were also assumed and directly administered by the County. Similarly, the County gained additional responsibilities in areas such as social services (Ontario Works), subdivision approvals, environmental protection act (septic tanks), and housing services.

Today, The Corporation of the County of Lambton is a large, modern corporation. It is governed by 17 County Councillors and has a highly professional staff of over 1,200 employees.