Celebrating our Charged for Change communities: Township of Selwyn, Ontario implements electric charging infrastructure

Morning mist rising from a lake

Building a better tomorrow, together with Earth Day Canada, Aviva Canada is taking action on climate change and helping to build stronger, more resilient communities by investing in public charging stations for electric vehicles. Charged for Change is a program that funds public electric vehicle (EV) charging installations in communities across Canada with limited or no access to EV infrastructure. Join us as we celebrate the unique stories of our Charged for Change communities, in the Township of Selwyn, Ontario, as they transition towards electric mobility.

The Townshipof Selwyn, Ontario, Canada - 44°25′N 78°20′W

The landscape rolls up and down, taking a dip in serene lakes and the Trent-Severn Waterway that passes through it. Where the land flattens, the crops of local farms rise. A mix of rural and small urban enclaves, Selwyn sits in the heart of the Kawarthas, and beats to the same naturally stunning rhythm the region is famous for.

Selwyn’s earliest inhabitants

Selwyn’s Public Library is an ideal place to get an understanding of the community’s first people. A great start is the library’s land acknowledgment statement.

 “We respectfully acknowledge that Selwyn Public Library is located on the Treaty 20 Michi Saagiig territory and in the traditional territory of the Michi Saagiig and Chippewa Nations, collectively known as the Williams Treaties First Nations, which include: Curve Lake, Hiawatha, Alderville, Scugog Island, Rama, Beausoleil, and Georgina Island First Nations.

Selwyn Public Library respectfully acknowledges that the Williams Treaties First Nations are the stewards and caretakers of these lands and waters in perpetuity, and that they continue to maintain this responsibility to ensure their health and integrity for generations to come.”1

What’s in a name

Like many Canadian communities, Selwyn is an amalgam of communities that have evolved and joined together. In 1998 an amalgamation created the Township of Smith-Ennismore. A further amalgamation created the Township of Smith-Ennismore-Lakefield in 2001. However, in 2012, Canada Post phased out its rural route system and a shorter name was required…a relief to anyone who sent letters to the Township of Smith-Ennismore-Lakefield.

European Settlement in Selwyn

In the early 19th century, settlers began to look beyond the shores of Lake Ontario in Upper Canada and had an eye on piercing the Canadian Wilderness to the North. As there were no roads, they travelled lakes and rivers that were curtained off by untamed forest. In 1818, Samuel Wilmot and Richard Birdsall completed a survey of Smith Township. In that year, colonists crossed the Atlantic from Cumberland, England to form a settlement. Fueled by a healthy lumber industries trade, the population had grown to 3,426 by 18612.

Expanding Ennismore

In 1823, the Township of Ennismore was surveyed and saw its first major settlement by the Peter Robinson Settlers in 1825. As MPP and Commission of Crown Lands, Peter Robinson oversaw the immigration of 297 impoverished Irish from the Emerald Isle to Ennismore. With little experience clearing and tilling land, it was a difficult first year for the settlers, as “there were among these Ennismore settlers’ nine births and twenty-three deaths”. However, “The official returns show their first year’s produce to be 8,900 bushels of potatoes, 3,000 bushels of turnips and 1,042 bushels of Indian corn. Of the 195 acres cleared up to that date (1826), 44 acres were sown in fall wheat. They had besides made 1,330 pounds of maple sugar and owned among them four oxen, nine cows and ten hogs.”3 Decades later, it was the construction of a bridge connecting Ennismore and the Township of Smith and another connecting Ennismore to the Township of Harvey in the early 1870s that led to rapid growth for Ennismore.

A rough start to literary history

Lakefield got its start in the early to mid-19th century with the establishment of a sawmill along the Otonabee River. One of its earliest settlers include Susanna Moodie, famed writer who penned the classic Canadian book “Roughing it in the Bush” – a rich and engaging journey of pioneer life in the wilderness of Lakefield.

Things to do in Selwyn today

Lakefield Jazz, Art & Craft Festival: Alongside the scenic Otonabee River, feel the breezy wind as the sound of cool jazz fills the air, and let your imagination roll with the works on sale by artisans and craftspeople.

Ennismore Shamrock Festival: All eyes are smiling, whether they’re Irish or not, as Selwyn celebrates some its earliest settlers with this festival that began as a Centennial year celebration in 1967.

Lakefield Literary Festival: You’ll certainly find the right words to describe the beauty of the Kawarthas, as you honour the magic of literature in Canada at this nearly 30-year old festival that has connected writers and readers in a sublime exchange of ideas.

PolarFest: Make the most of a Kawartha winter with a weekend of fun and friendly competition featuring fireworks, a snowman building challenge, a polar paddle, Guns and Hoses Charity Hockey Game, ice carvings, polar plunges and other featured activities more.

Charged for Change: Public charging stations and infrastructure for electric vehicles

 A Charged for Change electric vehicle charging station located in Selwyn, Ontario. Photo courtesy of the Township of Selwyn.
A Charged for Change electric vehicle charging station located in Selwyn, Ontario. Photo courtesy of the Township of Selwyn.

We’re thrilled to have been welcomed to Selwyn to fund the installation of EV charging stations, allowing climate-conscious drivers to charge their vehicles amongst the beautiful landscapes that surround the heart of the Kawarthas.

Stay tuned for our next EV journey to another Charged for Change municipality, the Municipality of East Ferris, Ontario. Visit  Charged for Change: Bringing electric vehicle charging infrastructure to your community to learn more.


1Land-Acknowledgement.pdf (selwyntownship.ca)

2Smith Township - Trent University Archives

3Ennismore Township Genealogy and History Page (ontariogenealogy.com)

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