Belleville, on the shores of the Bay of Quinte, traces its beginnings to the arrival of the United Empire Loyalists. For 30 years the centre of the present city was reserved for the Mississauga First Nation. White settlers who built dwellings and businesses on the land paid annual rent to them until the land was 'surrendered' and a town plot laid out in 1816. The new town quickly became an important lumbering, farming, and manufacturing centre. Early influences include the Marmora Iron Works of the 1820s, the first railway in 1856, Ontario's first gold rush in 1866, and prominent citizens such as noted pioneer author Susanna Moodie and Sir Mackenzie Bowell, Canada's fifth prime minister. This is a personal history of Belleville, based on Gerry Boyce's half-century of research. Embedded throughout are interesting and obscure stories about scandals, murders, and hauntings - the underbelly of the growth of a city.
Gerry Boyce's involvement with the Belleville area includes 32 years in education, and key roles in establishing the Hastings County Historical Society and two county museums. Boyce currently serves as Heritage Advisor and workshop coordinator for the Hastings County Historical Society's Heritage Centre. He lives in Belleville.