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Pembroke, Ontario

City of Pembroke
Pembroke Street Bridge crossing the Muskrat River, with City Hall in the background.
Pembroke Street Bridge crossing the Muskrat River, with City Hall in the background.
Flag of Pembroke
Official logo of Pembroke
The Heart of the Ottawa Valley
"Labore et Honore"
Pembroke is located in Southern Ontario
Location of Pembroke, Ontario
Coordinates: 45°49′N 077°06′W / 45.817°N 77.100°W / 45.817; -77.100
CountyRenfrew (independent)
Established1856 (Police Village)
Incorporated1877 (Town)
Incorporated1971 (City)
 • TypeMayor–Council
 • City MayorRon Gervais
 • Governing BodyCity Council
 • CAO / Deputy ClerkDavid Unrau
 • MPsCheryl Gallant
 • MPPJohn Yakabuski
 • Total14.35 km2 (5.54 sq mi)
130 m (492 ft)
 • Total14,364
 • Density1,002.8/km2 (2,597/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Postal Code
K8A to K8B
Area code(s)613, 343
Dwellings: 6,888

Pembroke (/ˈpɛmbrʊk/ PEM-brook) is a city in the Canadian province of Ontario at the confluence of the Muskrat River and the Ottawa River in the Ottawa Valley. Pembroke is the location of the administrative headquarters of Renfrew County, though the city itself is politically independent. It is 145 kilometres (90 mi) northwest of Ottawa.


The first European settler to the area now known as Pembroke was Daniel Fraser in 1823, who squatted on land that was discovered to have been granted to a man named Abel Ward. Ward later sold the land (where Moncion's Metro Supermarket is located) to Fraser, and nearby Fraser Street is named after the family.

Peter White, a veteran of the Royal Navy arrived in 1828, squatting beside Fraser on the land where Dairy Queen is now located. Other settlers followed, attracted by the growing lumbering operations of the area.

Originally named Miramichi,[2] Pembroke became a police village in 1856.

Map of the Village of Pembroke, 1853
Photograph of 1880 map of the Town of Pembroke.
Map of the Town of Pembroke, 1880

Pembroke is indirectly named after Sidney Herbert, First Admiralty Secretary from 1841 to 1845 and son of George Herbert, 11th Earl of Pembroke.

Pembroke was incorporated as a town in 1878 and as a city in 1971. It was named seat for Renfrew County in 1861. This set the stage for construction shortly thereafter on the Renfrew County Courthouse, which was finished in 1867, and the arrival of many civil servants, much wealth and much construction. In the 20-year period following 1861, Pembroke basically became the city it is today in terms of layout and buildings, although many homes and other structures have been lost to time. A fire in 1918 destroyed much of Pembroke's downtown.

From 2005 to 2007, the courthouse and (now disused) jail were re-constructed into one building and historic renovations were also completed. Visitors on weekdays can view original 1867 jail cells in the basement, and the original courtroom, complete with a huge replica of the original brass light fixture. County meetings were held here for many years. Three hangings occurred at the indoor gallows inside the Courthouse, two in the 1870s and one in 1952.

Other historic buildings that survive in Pembroke include a historic synagogue, two original hospitals, the Dunlop mansion (Grey Gables Inn), the 'Munroe Block' downtown, and two houses belonging to the White family. A fire in 1918 downtown destroyed many buildings, including the Pembroke Opera House.[3]

In 1898 Pembroke became the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pembroke.


Pembroke is managed by a Mayor-Council system, with a weak-mayor government form, for a total of one mayor and six councillors who are elected at large.[4] The councillor whom is elected with the most votes is appointed Deputy Mayor.

Mayors of Pembroke

No. Portrait Name Took office Left office Notes
45 Ronald (Ron) H. Gervais 2022 current
44 Michael Lemay 2014 2022
43 Ed Jacyno 2003 2014
42 Bob Pilot 2000 2003
41 Les Scott 1994 2000
40 Terance V. McCann 1988 1994

(3 of 3)

Angus A. Campbell 1981 1988
39 Henry V. Brown 1975 1980
38 George Abdallah 1973 1974

(2 of 3)

Angus A. Campbell 1971 1972 Town of Pembroke is redesignated as a city.
37 William K. Kutschke 1966 1970

(1 of 3)

Angus A. Campbell 1960 1965
35 A.A. Wallace 1958 1959
34 J.J. Carmody 1950 1957
33 Chas. E. Campbell 1948 1949
32 Wallace J. Fraser 1942 1947
31 F.W. Beatty 1939 1941
30 A.E. Cockburn 1936 1938
29 Matthew McKay 1935 1935
28 J.C. Bradley 1934 1934
27 George D. Biggs 1931 1933
26 J.M. Taylor 1928 1930
25 J.P. Duff 1926 1927
24 L.S. Barrand 1924 1925
23 W.I. Smyth 1922 1923
22 D.A. Jones 1920 1921
21 W.R. Beatty 1918 1919
20 Edward Behan 1916 1917
19 James L. Morris 1914 1915
18 William Leacy 1912 1913
17 W.L. Hunter 1910 1911
16 J.S. Fraser 1907 1909
15 Isidore Martin 1907 1907
14 William H. Bromley 1905 1906
13 George Delahaye 1903 1904
12 Peter White 1901 1901
11 John P. Millar 1901 1901
10 Thomas Murray 1897 1900
9 F.E. Fortin 1891 1896
8 William R. White 1891 1893
7 Thomas Deacon 1890 1890
6 William Murray 1888 1890
5 Archibald Foster 1885 1887
4 Walter Beatty 1883 1884
3 John H. Metcalfe 1882 1882
2 W.W. Dickson 1879 1881
1 William Moffat 1877 1878 Planned the original village of Pembroke.[5]

First postmaster of Pembroke.[6]


Pembroke's public library

Pembroke is the largest commercial centre between North Bay and Ottawa.

Victoria Hall on 42 Renfrew Street

Historically, forestry and farming formed the backbone of the local economy and remain important today. Local timber products include lumber, plywood, veneer, hydro poles and fibreboard. Other local manufacturing operations produce office furniture.

CFB Petawawa in nearby Petawawa and Chalk River Laboratories of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited in Chalk River are also regional employers. Chalk River Laboratories is being restructured to a GOCO (Government Owned, Contractor Operated) Laboratory.

The economy also benefits from tourism, aided partly by Pembroke's location on the Trans-Canada Highway. Pembroke is a gateway to natural adventures on the Petawawa and Ottawa Rivers, Algonquin Park and to world-class white water rafting a short distance to the southwest.


Champlain Trail Pioneer Village

Local attractions include 30 historic murals in the downtown area depicting the history of the city, from steam engines to logging. Pembroke has more murals than almost any city in Canada.[7]

At the Champlain Trail Pioneer Village and Museum the history of Ottawa Valley settlers comes alive inside the fully furnished schoolhouse, pioneer log home and church — all built in the 1800s. Other outdoor exhibits include train station, sawmill, blacksmith shop, stonelifter, carriage shed, woodworking shop, bake oven, smokehouse and a 1923 Bickle fire engine. The large museum features artifacts which range from fossils and Native Canadian arrowheads to furniture, clothing and manufactured products of Pembroke from various eras. There is also a replica of Samuel de Champlain's Astrolabe (he brought the original to the Valley in 1613), an original Cockburn pointer boat, Corliss steam engine, doctor's examination room, fancy parlour rooms, general store, hair salon and more.

Waterfront Park.

The Pembroke Hydro Museum commemorates national hydro-electric development in Pembroke, including the first electric streetlights in Pembroke, and the first municipal building with electric lights (Victoria Hall).

The city is home to an annual Old Time Fiddling and Step Dancing Festival, which happens Labour Day weekend at Riverside Park. There are often up to 1400 RVs parked there for the week preceding the event. Award-winning fiddler/step dancer April Verch is a Pembroke native.

Pembroke has a 600 plus seat community arts facility, Festival Hall Center of the Arts.[8] The facility is operated by a Consortium consisting of The City of Pembroke and the Townships of Petawawa and Laurentian Valley. This facility hosts various local productions and top Canadian artists during the year.

Street art in Pembroke.

Pembroke also is host to the annual Silver Stick Regional Minor League Hockey Tournament, which brings in several hundred children and youth on weekends in November and early December for regional qualifying games.

Pembroke's Public Library was designed by architect Francis Conroy Sullivan, a contemporary of Frank Lloyd Wright.


Pembroke has been the home of the Pembroke Lumber Kings Junior A Hockey Club since 1958. They have been members of the Central Canada Hockey League since 1964, with the exception of the 1979–1980 season when the Pembroke Royals replaced them. Pembroke has won the CCHL Championship a record five consecutive years. In 2011, they won their first Canadian Junior A title, the Royal Bank Cup.


Historical populations

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Pembroke had a population of 14,364 living in 6,542 of its 6,888 total private dwellings, a change of 3.5% from its 2016 population of 13,882. With a land area of 14.32 km2 (5.53 sq mi), it had a population density of 1,003.1/km2 (2,597.9/sq mi) in 2021.[9]

Canada census – Pembroke community profile
Population14,364 (+3.5% from 2016)13,882 (-3.3% from 2011)14,360 (3.1% from 2006)
Land area14.32 km2 (5.53 sq mi)14.35 km2 (5.54 sq mi)
Population density1,002.8/km2 (2,597/sq mi)1,000.7/km2 (2,592/sq mi)
Median age46.4 (M: 42.8, F: 50)46.7 (M: 43.3, F: 49.0)
Private dwellings6,540 (total)  6,685 (total)  6,594 (total) 
Median household income
References: 2021[10] 2016[11] 2011[12] earlier[13][14]


The war memorial in downtown Pembroke.

The city of Pembroke has three Anglophone Catholic primary schools; Cathedral Catholic School, Holy Name Catholic School and Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School. There are also three public primary schools; Highview Public School, Rockwood Public School and Champlain Discovery Public School. The two biggest secondary schools are Bishop Smith Catholic School, which is the only secondary Catholic school in Pembroke and Petawawa, the neighboring town, and Fellowes High School, the only public Anglophone High School. There are two French schools for the French population of the city; École élémentaire et secondaire catholique Jeanne-Lajoie, which is the French catholic school, and École élémentaire et secondaire publique l’Équinoxe, which is a smaller French Public School.

All the Pembroke high schools are a part of the ‘Upper Ottawa Valley High School Athletic Association (UOVHSAA). UOVHSAA includes 11 high schools in the Renfrew County. The association encourages the “promotion and enhancement of the educational value of school sport”. Although not all schools are able to participate in every sport due to different levels of interest or number of interested students, they students can participate in rugby, volleyball, cross country, football, basketball, alpine skiing, hockey, cross country skiing, snowboarding, curling, wrestling, badminton, golf, soccer, tennis and track and field. The possibilities for students are endless and participation can lead to competing in different associations to represent not only the school, but also the city itself.[15]

The Ottawa-based Algonquin College also has a campus in the heart of Pembroke, right by the Ottawa River. The campus doesn't offer as many programs as the Ottawa campus, but it offers some unique programs that wouldn't be available in the big city. The Outdoor Adventure and Outdoor Adventure Naturalist, Forestry Technician, and Environmental Technician programs are unique to Pembroke due to its location by the water and Algonquin Provincial Park.[16]

Healthcare services

The Pembroke Regional Hospital is the city's only hospital with many different services available. It is an acute care hospital with services such as medicine, surgery, maternal and childcare, mental health care, regional rehabilitation, emergency and intensive care. The hospital is affiliated with the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Medicine and recognized as a state of the art teaching hospital.[17] Aside from the hospital's doctors, many other doctors practice independently. There is also the Integrated Health Centre, with its focus on assisting the public to improve their health and to prevent pain and illness before problems occur.[18]

Mental health care in Pembroke is available throughout different locations. The Mental Health Services of Renfrew County is the mental health ward in the Pembroke Regional Hospital. For youth, there is the Phoenix Centre for Children and Families[19][20] that is run by a volunteer board of directors and funded by the provincial government. The Phoenix Centre for Children and Families offers walk-in counselling for those who need immediate help or advice. There is also the Robbie Dean Family Counselling Centre, that offers a wide variety of services such as a Suicide Prevention & Crisis Clinic, PTSD/OSI Peer Support Group, a Youth Of Parents who Experience Occupational Trauma Program, Support Group for LGBTQ Youth, and a Parent Peer Support Group. They also hold many community events to help support mental health initiatives.[21]


Most broadcast media transmitting in the Pembroke area are rebroadcasters of stations from Ottawa, Arnprior or Toronto. CHVR-FM is the only broadcast station directly based in the Pembroke area itself. Pembroke also remains CHRO-TV's official city of license, although the station currently operates out of studios in Ottawa.



Except for CIVP-DT, all channels listed below are available on Cogeco, the local cable system for Pembroke.


The city's main daily newspaper was The Daily Observer. The Observer ceased print publication in 2018 and is now exclusively online.

Notable people

A monument to the pointer boat, part of the historically important logging industry, near the Pembroke Marina.

Forest fire protection history

The Pembroke Forest Fire District was founded by Ontario's former Department of Lands and Forests (now the MNR) in 1922 as one of 17 districts to help protect Ontario's forests from fire by early detection from fire towers. The headquarters for the district were housed in the town. It was the central location for 15 fire tower lookouts, including the towers in Algonquin Park. The 15 towers included: Wilberforce, Mt. Edna, Sherwood, Murchison, Preston, Clancy, Fitzgerald, Brent, Big Crow Lake, White Trout Lake, Stonecliffe, Deux Rivières, Osler, Lauder and Skymount. When a fire was spotted in the forest a towerman would get the degree bearings from his respective tower and radio back the information to headquarters. When one or more towermen from other towers in the area would also call in their bearings, the forest rangers at headquarters could get a 'triangulation' read and plot the exact location of the fire on their map. This way a team of forest firefighters could be dispatched as soon as possible to get the fire under control. These towers would all be phased out after aerial fire fighting techniques were employed in the 1970s.

See also


  1. ^ "2021 Census of Population geographic summary Pembroke, City (CY) [Census subdivision], Ontario". Statistics Canada. 9 February 2022. Retrieved 30 April 2022.
  2. ^ "History of Pembroke". City of Pembroke. 2004. Retrieved 2008-10-27. The hamlet was later renamed Moffat, and then Sydenham. In 1856, it merged with the hamlet of Campbelltown, across the Muskrat River, to form the Police Village of Pembroke.
  3. ^ Pembroke's great fire of 1918: 'A sorry sight' | Editorial | Opinion | Pembroke Daily Observer. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  4. ^ "Council". 2022-07-28. Retrieved 2022-08-13.
  5. ^ "Biography of William Moffat | Access Genealogy". 2012-08-05. Retrieved 2023-04-16.
  6. ^ "The Pembroke Observer - 'A Diary of the Times'". pembrokeobserver. Retrieved 2023-04-16.
  7. ^ "Mural Map of Canada - Mural Routes". Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  8. ^ "Festival Hall Centre for the Arts". Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  9. ^ "Population and dwelling counts: Canada, provinces and territories, census divisions and census subdivisions (municipalities), Ontario". Statistics Canada. February 9, 2022. Retrieved March 27, 2022.
  10. ^ "2021 Community Profiles". 2021 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. February 4, 2022. Retrieved 2022-04-27.
  11. ^ "2016 Community Profiles". 2016 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. August 12, 2021.
  12. ^ "2011 Community Profiles". 2011 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. March 21, 2019. Retrieved 2011-02-12.
  13. ^ "2006 Community Profiles". 2006 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. August 20, 2019.
  14. ^ "2001 Community Profiles". 2001 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. July 18, 2021.
  15. ^ "UOVHSAA - About UOVHSAA". Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  16. ^ "Algonquin College Pembroke Campus Programs". Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  17. ^ Studios, Blue North. "- The City of Pembroke". Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  18. ^ "About the Centre - Integrated Health Centre". Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  19. ^ "The Phoenix Centre - For Children and Families". Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  20. ^ "Welcome to the Phoenix Centre". Phoenix Centre for Children and Families. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  21. ^ "Robbie Dean Family Counselling Centre". Robbie Dean Centre. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
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Pembroke, Ontario
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