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 (a 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 a city. By 1996 there were 79,000 people, by 2001 there were 87,000 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.
- 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.
- 1 GO Transit, 1322 Bayly St. at Liverpool Rd, ☏ , toll-free: . GO Transit is the commuter train operator in the region, operating "Lakeshore" double-decker passenger train service through Hamilton-Toronto-Oshawa seven days a week.
- 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.
The Pickering Pedestrian Bridge, leading north from the railway station, is a Guinness World Record holder for the longest enclosed pedestrian bridge in the world. The 250-metre (820 ft) bridge connects the station to Pickering Town Centre, a shopping centre with access to regional bus service. At night, the bridge is illuminated by 300 LED lights in rotating shades of lilac, purple, blue and teal.
- 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 also offers bus service, in addition to train service, between Toronto and Pickering.
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.
Pickering is on Lake Ontario.
- Frenchman's Bay Yacht Club, ☏ . Sailing events and programs, keelboat racing, a sailing school, dinghy racing programs, regattas. Safe and protected dinghy-basin and dockage within Frenchman's Bay harbour, modern clubhouse, docks, cranes, pumpout facilities. Various reciprocal clubs in Ontario and western New York state.
- East Shore Marina, 1295 Wharf Street, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: .
- [formerly dead link] Swans Marina, 590 Liverpool Rd., ☏ , fax: .
- Wharf Street Marina, 1289 Wharf Street, ☏ , fax: .
- Durham Regional Transit, toll-free: . Durham Region Transit operates bus service]] within Pickering, Ajax, Oshawa-Whitby and to University of Toronto's Scarborough campus. $3.75 cash fare.
- [dead link] Durham Rapid Taxi, 979 Brock Rd, ☏ .
- Pick-N-Go Taxi (Blue Line Durham Region), 177-1895 Clements Rd., ☏ .
- 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.
- 1 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.
- 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.
- 1 Pickering Markets, 1400 Squires Beach Rd. at Bayly St. (one block east of Brock Road). Sa Su 9AM-5PM. Flea market, crafts, antiquities.
- 2 Pickering Town Centre, 1355 Kingston Rd, ☏ , fax: . Two-storey mall at Kingston Road and Liverpool Road.
- The Big M, 711 Krosno Blvd, ☏ . 1965-style burger joint.
- Crabby Joe's, 780 Kingston Rd, ☏ , fax: . M-W 11AM-1AM, Th-Sa 11AM-2AM, Su 11AM-midnight. Regional (Sarnia to Napanee) tap & grill chain.
- Herongate Barn Theatre, 2885 Altona Rd, Whitevale, ☏ , toll-free: . Live theatre in former dairy farm, dinner included. $65-70 (dinner+show).
- [dead link] Kobo Sushi, 512 Kingston Rd., ☏ . Tu-Sa 11:30AM-9:30PM, Su 4:30-9:30PM. Japanese food, sushi and sake, dine-in and take-out, closed Monday.
- [dead link] Massey's, 774 Liverpool Rd, ☏ , (takeout). Sa-Th 11AM-10PM, F 11AM-10:30PM. Neighbourhood restaurant.
- Port Restaurant, 1289 Wharf St., ☏ . Bar, dining room and patio, Saturday/Sunday brunch. Food served daily 11:30AM–3:30PM and 4:3M–9PM (later on weekends); bar open until 11PM (1AM weekends).
- [formerly dead link] Bear and Firkin, 1294 Kingston Rd, ☏ . Daily 11:30AM-2AM. One of thirty British-style pubs in an Ontario regional chain; names vary but all end in "...and Firkin".
- Fox and Fiddle, 1294 Kingston Rd., ☏ , fax: . Daily 11AM-2AM. Pub with extensive food menu.
- The Fox Goes Free, 339 Kingston Rd, ☏ . Pub with extensive food menu, takeout, reservations.
- [formerly dead link] Harp and Crown Pub, 300 Kingston Rd, ☏ . Locally-owned pub and eatery, discounted wings Tuesdays, sports bar, live bands on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
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 M-F 9:30AM-9PM, Sa 9AM-5PM, Su 1-5PM.
|Routes through Pickering|
|London ← Toronto ←||W E||→ Ajax → Oshawa|
|Kitchener ← Markham ←||W E||→ Whitby → Peterborough|
|Jct ← Uxbridge ←||N S||→ END|
|Toronto ← Scarborough ←||W E||→ Ajax → Oshawa|