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Pickering (Ontario)

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Pickering is a Toronto outer suburb in Durham, Ontario. Located directly east of Toronto on Ontario Highway 401, it shares a name with Pickering in North Yorkshire, England.

Understand[edit]

Former Pickering College site (1877-1905), now Hermitage Park, Ajax

While Jesuit missionaries report contact with a native community here (likely Onondaga) in 1669, by 1813 Pickering was a small rural village with 180 residents. A post office established in 1829 was called Pickering; this name was later extended to the 1807 Quaker settlement in the area. The Kingston Road (an originally-muddy 1817 horse carriage trail, which became the "Provincial Highway" or Ontario Highway 2 a century later in the motorcar era) passed through the village as a first stop on the then-arduous Toronto to Montréal stagecoach journey; anyone who completed the trip in a mere week was making very good time. The steam-powered Grand Trunk Railway cut the journey to 14 hours in 1856 and brought commerce to the area, a grist milling centre. The internal combustion engine sped travel further; by the 1960s. the 401 freeway brought motorists from Montréal through Pickering into Toronto in about six hours.

The 1877 Pickering College, originally a seminary, burned in 1905 and was a total loss; the school rebuilt in Newmarket. The town of Ajax was split from Pickering Township in 1941 and named for a wartime battleship; this left "Pickering Village" and the former college site (now Hermitage Park) as part of Ajax, while "Pickering Township" remained Pickering. As the nearby city of Toronto has expanded, surpassing Montréal to become Canada's largest city in the 1970s, traffic through and suburban sprawl into Pickering has steadily increased. The township was incorporated as a town in 1974 and is now nominally a city. By 1996 there were 79000 people, by 2001 there were 87000 people as rising housing prices within Toronto sent commuters further afield.

Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, Pickering's largest employer, first went on-line in the early 1970s; it later expanded to eight reactors and now generates 4.12 gigawatts to power the Greater Toronto Area. A second generating station (Darlington, to the east of Oshawa) was added to Durham Region; each site has a public Information Centre. The southern portion of the municipality is primarily suburban, although one can still find rural areas in Pickering by heading north. A major airport continues to be proposed for this area but, due to strong and continued local opposition since the mid-1970s, has never been built.

Nautical Village, Frenchman's Bay

Get in[edit]

By motorcar[edit]

  • The 401 freeway is fourteen lanes wide into Toronto from Pickering, carrying ever-growing quantities of traffic from more distant suburbs; a pedestrian bridge across the freeway links the GO commuter station to the downtown. This busy motorway continues eastward through Montréal and Lévis to Rivière-du-Loup as Québec Autoroute 20 and westward through Toronto and London to Windsor-Detroit, although the traffic becomes less hectic as one gets further from Toronto.

By train[edit]

  • GO Transit, 1322 Bayly St. at Liverpool Rd., +1 416-869-3200, toll-free: +1-888-438-6646. The primary commuter train operator in the region, operating "Lakeshore" double-decker passenger train service through Hamilton-Toronto-Oshawa seven days a week. On summer weekends, service is extended to Niagara.
  • VIA Rail intercity trains stop in Oshawa, Scarborough (Guildwood) and Toronto/Downtown (Union Station). One must transfer to a local bus or train at these points to reach Pickering, as the main VIA service from Ottawa and Montréal passes through Pickering without stopping.

By bus[edit]

  • Durham Regional Transit runs bus service from Oshawa/Whitby.
  • Intercity bus (Coach Canada, Megabus) stops at Whitby GO and at the Scarborough Town Centre on its way into Toronto from Kingston and Montréal. One must transfer to local services at these points to reach Pickering.
  • GO Transit is the primary means to reach Toronto from Pickering by public transportation.

By air[edit]

Oshawa has an airport with small charter planes but no scheduled passenger service. Toronto Pearson International Airport in Malton (YYZ IATA) is the one major airport in the area, but travellers must cross all of Toronto to reach it as it's on the far side of the city, in Peel Region. There is a small Toronto Islands Airport in downtown Toronto with a few domestic and US short-haul flights.

By boat[edit]

Pickering is on Lake Ontario.

Get around[edit]

By bus
By taxi

See[edit]

  • 1 Pickering Museum Village, 2365 Concession Rd 6, Greenwood. Living history museum with live pioneers in 18 heritage buildings including a blacksmith's shop, general store, school house, temperance hotel, steam barn and chapel. Souvenir shop with toys and games from yesteryear, some handmade by the museum's Woodwrights' Guild. A variety of prints, cards, books, candies and beverages. Dinner triangles and fire pokers made in the village Blacksmith Shop, home-style preserves in season. $7.

Do[edit]

  • Nautical Village, Frenchman's Bay, on lakefront. Part of the Waterfront Trail in Pickering, seasonal free musical entertainment at Millennium Square, children's playground and water feature, waterfront boardwalk, cafés, restaurants, shops and an art gallery. On weekends between May and September, the "Sunday on the Porch" series at the SilverStone Gallery features visual and performing artists.

Buy[edit]

  • Pickering Farmers’ Market, Pickering Town Centre. Seasonal (spring, summer and fall) local market with outdoor stalls, ready-to-eat foods, desserts, live entertainment by local artists.
  • Pickering Markets, 1400 Squires Beach Rd. at Bayly St. (one block east of Brock Road). 9AM-5PM Sat-Sun. Flea market, crafts, antiquities.
  • Pickering Town Centre, 1355 Kingston Rd, +1 905-831-6066, fax: +1 905-420-9379. Two storey mall at Kingston Road and Liverpool Road.

Eat[edit]

Drink[edit]

Sleep[edit]

  • Comfort Inn, 533 Kingston Rd., +1 905-831-6200, fax: +1 905-831-6025. Two-storey economy limited service hotel.

Connect[edit]

Wi-Fi is available at the Pickering Public Library; the main branch at One The Esplanade (+1 905-831-6265 or +1-888-831-6266) is open 9:30AM-9PM weekdays, 9-5 Saturday, 1-5PM Sunday.

Go next[edit]

Routes through Pickering
LondonToronto  W Ontario 2.svgOntario 401.svg E  AjaxOshawa
KitchenerMarkham  W Ontario 7.svg E  WhitbyPeterborough
Jct York Regional Road 32.svgUxbridge  N Durham Regional Road 1.svg S  END
TorontoScarborough  W GO Transit Lakeshore East icon.png E  AjaxOshawa


This city travel guide to Pickering is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.