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Bradford is the primary country urban area of the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury, Ontario, in Canada. It overlooks a farming community, known as The Holland Marsh, located on the Holland River that flows into Lake Simcoe.
Bradford was incorporated as a village in 1857, with a population of about 1,000 people. Only a few years prior to this, the Northern Railway of Canada was built through the town. The train station was constructed by the Grand Trunk Railway and later used by the CNR. Bradford was incorporated as a town in 1960.
The Downtown Core has survived two fires. The first, on May 23, 1871, destroyed upwards of one hundred homes including all of the business part of the village except two hotels being consumed. However, a new downtown area arose where most buildings were made of brick. Today many of the buildings still exist and make up the downtown core. The second fire was in the 1960s with damage only to the northwest corner of the intersection at Highway 11 and Highway 88.
One of its famous historical landmarks that still operates to this day is the Village Inn Hotel. Its architect was E.J. Lennox, one of Toronto’s foremost architects who also built Toronto’s Old City Hall, the West Wing of the Ontario Legislature – Queens Park, and the King Edward Hotel. The Village Inn is situated at the crossroads of Highway 88 and Highway 11, and is the landmark at the four corners of Bradford. Food, lodgings, and hospitality serve as its trademark. This history goes back to the 1900s, to horse and buggy days, when the Village Inn was a favourite meeting place for local residents and travellers en route for other parts of the country. The building survived a couple of fires including the great downtown fire of 1957. In 1980, it was hit by a crane that was trying to negotiate the intersection. It has since been extensively remodeled.
The 2006 Statistics Canada Census lists the population of Bradford West Gwillimbury (the local census unit) as 24,039. Bradford West Gwillimbury has people from many different backgrounds ranging from Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom, Hungary, and Ukraine. The overwhelming majority of Bradford’s residents are of European descent.