Niagara was first settled by indigenous people of the Neutral Nation. Early English settlements included Newark (the first seat of government) now called Niagara-on-the-Lake and St. Catharines (site of the first Welland Canal).
Following the American Revolutionary War, a strong influx of British settlers migrated to the counties of Lincoln and Welland. They brought with them strong roots of loyalty to King and country. Many played key roles in the agricultural, economic, industrial and educational development of the area.
Niagara Region is the successor government to the former counties of Lincoln and Welland created in the late 1860s. Over the next century, the counties prospered as 26 cities, towns, townships and villages were born.
|Township of Niagara||3,113|
|Township of Thorold||8,111|
Source: 1966 Census
Work on local government reform began in 1963 with the creation of the "Niagara Peninsula Municipal Committee on Urban and Regional Research". Dr. Henry Mayo was commissioned in 1965 to report on such a restructuring to the provincial government's minister of municipal affairs, the Honourable J. W. Spooner. The Mayo Report, released in 1966 recommended that the Regional Municipality of Niagara be created.
A movement to reform local government in the decade of 1965 to 1975 saw many county governments (in place since confederation in 1867) reorganized in the populated industrial corridor around the Great Lakes.
Niagara became part of the reform movement to create new forms of governance - regional governments. On June 26, 1969, the provincial legislature enacted The Regional Municipality of Niagara Act. On Jan. 1, 1970, 12 area municipal governments and one regional government replaced the two counties and 26 municipal structures.
In 1971, a single policing unit was also created through an amalgamation process.