|o Type||Municipality of North Perth|
|Elevation||382 m (1,253 ft)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (EST)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
|Forward sortation area|
Listowel is an unincorporated community in Ontario, Canada, located in the Municipality of North Perth. It was created in 1998 during the amalgamation of several other communities in the northern section of Perth County, and the previously incorporated Town of Listowel dissolved with the creation of the Municipality of North Perth. Its population was 7,530 at the Canada 2016 Census in a land area of 6.65 square kilometres; at the time there were 3,159 occupied dwellings.
Settler John Binning Purcell arrived in 1852 and was the first to create a permanent residence in the area. Within four years a sawmill and a settlement called Mapleton developed. On June 1, 1856, the name was changed when the post office named Listowel was opened; the population was 200 and a tavern and a general store were already operating. The new name is based on Listowel, Ireland. The majority of early settlers were of Protestant Irish origin. By 1866, the population had increased to 800 and the settlement became an incorporated Village. The first Reeve (1867-72) was D. D. Hay. By 1871 gravel roads extended in several directions, to Mitchell and to Stratford, but were not adequate for moving products to distant markets. That year a by-law to provide financial aid to expanding a railroad was passed.
In 1871 the Wellington, Grey and Bruce Railway extended its line to Listowel. It was joined in 1873 by a second railway, the Stratford and Huron Railway, and Listowel soon became an important shipping point. The arrival of the railway hastened development and Listowel became a Town with a population of 2,054 in 1875 in what is now North Perth in Perth County, Ontario.
In 1877, the first elementary school opened; two years later the first high school is opened. In 1880 a gas company was organized, and began supplying lighting to the residents.
The Morris, Field, Rogers Company Ltd began to manufacture Morris pianos in Listowel; within a few years it was employing 80 to 100 people. That year an old tannery was expanded into Breithaupt Leather Company. Three years later a manufacturer of agricultural implements opened.
Electricity came to Listowel in 1897, and in 1900 the Listowel Furniture Company opened. By 1902 the population had increased to 2,661, and a woolen mill, a planing mill, a flour mill, a brewery and a dairy products exporting company were operating in the town.
On February 28, 1959, the Listowel Memorial Arena collapsed, burying a boys' hockey team playing a scrimmage game - the worst tragedy in the town's history. Seven young players, along with a referee and recreation director (Reginald Kenneth McLeod), were killed in the tragic collapse.
On March 17, 2011, the local dollar store caught fire and its roof collapsed, killing volunteer firefighters Ray Walter (30) and Ken Rea (56). Listowel mourned the tragic loss, closing major streets and posting black ribbons all over town in honour of the fallen firefighters.Paddyfest festivities continued to honour Kinsman Ray Walter, but in a somber fashion. A community funeral service was held March 24, 2011 at the Listowel Memorial Arena, with a broadcast directly to Elma Community Centre. Over 10,000 were expected to visit Listowel that day and Premier Dalton McGuinty joined emergency responders from across the country to attend the funeral service. A minute of silence was held at the Ontario Legislature earlier in the week and flags were flown at half mast. Firefighters from London, Ontario and Kitchener, Ontario came to help staff the local fire stations so all North Perth firefighters could attend the service. The accident marked the first double firefighter fatality in Ontario since 1978.
The Steve Kerr Memorial Complex, a new sports complex and community centre, was opened in late 2018.
Public education in Listowel is administered by the Avon Maitland District School Board, who manage Listowel District Secondary School and elementary schools Listowel Eastdale Public School and North Perth Westfield Elementary School. North Perth Westfield Elementary School, an amalgamation of Wallace Public School and Listowel Central School, accepted its first cohort of students in September 2016. Catholic education is managed by the Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board, who have St. Mary's Catholic Elemetary School in town.
The region is home to many visual artists who are showcased annually as part of the region's Studio Tour. Theatre 311 is a venue for live theatre, drawing on local talent and actors from surrounding cities. Listowel is also represented in the film industry by Dura Mater Productions, an independent film company that has received recognition by film festivals throughout North America and Europe.
The Bookery (now the Salvation Army Thrift Store) is located across from Veky's International Cuisine Restaurant. This Celtic-inspired book store stocks about 25,000 books and traditional Celtic, Irish and Scottish jewellery in silver. In addition, they provide gallery space for local artists to display their work. Listowel has also raised musicians from many genres, such as Thirteen O'Clock, Brian Vollmer (lead singer of Helix), Ian Laing, The Bender singers, and In the vein of classical music, the Grammy Award-winning baritone, Kevin McMillan, is from Listowel.
Listowel has a large Irish festival, called Paddyfest, which is held over the two weeks surrounding St. Patrick's Day. The festival was first started in 1977 from an idea put forth by Dave Murtha to honour the large numbers of persons of Irish ancestry present in the Listowel area and is largely maintained by the Kinsmen and Kinette clubs of Listowel.
The official spokesperson for Paddyfest is chosen yearly in the Paddyfest Ambassador Competition. Contestants must perform a speech, impromptu question and interview with the judges and receive the overall highest score to be awarded this position. A separate award of Talent is given out to the contestant with the highest score in the talent competition. Runner-up and Congeniality are also awards which are available. The Paddyfest Ambassador Competition changed its name and official status from being Miss Paddyfest when first created.
Listowel has a Jr. "B" hockey team from the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (Mid-West Conference). They are called the Listowel Cyclones. The town also hosts a baseball team, the Listowel Jr. Legionnaires.
The surrounding area is mostly agricultural land located on the Perth Plain, dominated by the beef and pork industries.
The Campbell Soup Company was a major local employer for 48 years, operating a frozen, foodservice and specialty food plant in Listowel. This relationship ended abruptly with the announcement of the factory's pending closure on April 28, 2008. In 2010 the former Campbell Soup plant was purchased by Erie Meat Products and expected to ship 50-60 million pounds of poultry to world markets on an annual basis.
Since 1996 the area around Listowel has attracted new industries, including Listowel Technology, Inc. a manufacturer of injection-moulded automotive parts with a 240,000-square-foot facility employing 500. In 2012, EFS plastics constructed a 40,000 square foot plant in the North Perth Industrial Park. Other businesses in the park include Vision Manufacturing Solutions, Hutchison Precision Inc., Shredall and Energrow. HLA/Horst Welding was planning to complete a new 64,000 square foot metal fabrication facility in 2016.
In addition to Listowel Technology and the Memorial Hospital, other major employers include: Spinrite Inc., Erie Meat Products Ltd., Ideal Supply Company Ltd., L.H. Gray & Sons, Benshaw Canada Controls, and B.T.E. Assembly.