One hundred years ago, the City of Brantford advertised itself as the most important manufacturing centre in Canada. During the century that followed, its industrial economy boomed, faltered, and finally collapsed. By the end of the twentieth century, Brantford was known for unemployment, hard luck, and the infamy of having “the worst downtown in Canada.” For twenty years the downtown was in steep decline. Significant attempts at urban revival had failed until Wilfrid Laurier University decided to locate a campus in the heart of Brantford's crumbling city centre.
Leo Groarke revisists the grandeur of the city's past, explores the economic downfall, and tells the story of the arrival of the university, its early struggles, its commitment to historic restoration, and its ultimate success as a catalyst for urban renewal. The compelling story he recounts will engage anyone interested in the plight of the North-American city core and the role that universities and colleges can play in re-establishing downtowns as vibrant centres of historical and contemporary importance.