There are many things that put a place ‘on the map’, as the saying goes. For Ingersoll, that achievement was being the “Cheese Capital” of the Oxford County in the 19th century. Nowadays, Ingersoll is better known for its automotive manufacturing, which dominates the job market. At the heart of all that developing industry is an inviting small town with a strong community and an exciting town culture. Just a quick stop off of the 401, Ingersoll has plenty of charm to offer visitors and residents alike.
What is the population of Ingersoll? Where is Ingersoll?
Firstly, how big is Ingersoll? The town itself covers an area of about 13 square kilometers and that area is home to just over 12,500 people. The population of Ingersoll is on the rise! Between the 2011 and the 2016 census, the population of Ingersoll increased 5% from 12,146 to 12,757 people.
As for its location, Ingersoll is a Southwestern Ontario town located in Oxford County. This town on the Thames River is about 39 Kilometers East of London, Ontario and 132 Kilometers West of Mississauga in the GTA. Also within a reasonable distance are Woodstock (20km), Kitchener (70km), and Hamilton (90km).
Its spot on the 401 Highway puts Ingersoll in a good position to uniquely service the larger cities around it. Ingersoll is a great place to live for someone looking for the small-town experience without giving up big-city conveniences. Living in Ingersoll can shorten the commute to a bigger city like London or Woodstock while maintaining a relaxing lifestyle outside of them. If you’re committed to commuting, then why not start on the scenic and quiet roads of Ingersoll?
Looking to travel even further? Ingersoll also has access to a variety of transportation options other than cars to get you where you need to go. You can take the VIA Rail from the Ingersoll Train Station or plane from the London International Airport, in London, Ontario.
The History of Ingersoll and the Mammoth Cheese
Originally called Oxford-on-the-Thames, the town that would become Ingersoll was founded on a land grant given to Thomas Ingersoll by the Governor in 1793. Massachusetts-born Ingersoll, would eventually move away from the settlement, but, Ingersoll’s son, Charles would rename the area after his father. In 1852, the Village of Ingersoll was incorporated, then officially became a town in the 1860s. Oxford County - and particularly Ingersoll would become famous for its cheddar cheese production and the local farms and factories of the 19th century that would cement that area’s reputation as the “Cheese Capital”.
In celebration of Ingersoll’s prestigious “Cheese Capital” title and to spread the word to new markets, the Mammoth Cheese was ordered. While some make their monuments out of stone or bronze, the Ingersoll-based James Harris Cheese Factory made a giant cheese. And it’s not called the “Mammoth Cheese” for nothing, it took the milk of 2500 Cows on 250 farms, but the result was a magnificent, 7300-pound cheese. The cheese was then paraded through Oxford County and the New York State Fair by wagon before being shipped off to England for sale. While the original Mammoth Cheese is long divided and gone, a replica resides in the Ingersoll Cheese & Agriculture Museum to honour the importance of the industry to the region.
Living in Ingersoll:
Living in Ingersoll means being part of an active community rich with years of traditional festivals and extra-curricular activities. Ingersoll is home to a diverse collection of community centers servicing all ages and interests. Programs like Fusion are dedicated to providing a safe space for the youth of Ingersoll to pursue their passions and learn something new. Available for ages 10-18, they offer music lessons, art classes, cooking classes, a recording studio, a gym, and many other amenities. No matter the hobby, Fusion strives to provide a space for it.
Fun for all ages can be found at the Victoria Park Community Centre which offers an indoor pool, recreational fitness rooms and classes, children’s preschool programs, a summer camp program, and other seasonal activities. Outside of the community centre, Victoria Park also has outdoor space for picnics, baseball, and a splash pad for those hot summer days!
With recreation covered, what about schools in Ingersoll? There are four elementary schools to choose from in Ingersoll all taking students from JK all the way to the 8th grade. Harrisfield Public School and Royal Roads Public School were expanded in 2011, while Laurie Hawkins Public school was opened in 2012. St. Jude’s Catholic School is also an option in the London Catholic School Board. After elementary school, students will attend Ingersoll District Collegiate Institute for grades 9 to 12. As for continuing education, Ingersoll has a Conestoga College Skills Training Centre for programs related to the electrical utilities and powerline fields.
The main employment sector in Ingersoll is manufacturing. The townhouses facilities for IMT Group, Sivaco, the Ingersoll Paper Box, and most famously, a GM CAMI Assembly plant, manufacturer of the Chevrolet Equinox. But there are still opportunities in the region for careers in health care, education, retail, construction, transportation, and hospitality services too.
Things to do in and around Ingersoll, Ontario
In Ingersoll, every season has a reason to celebrate. Ingersoll plays host to a line-up of festivals all year long. In Spring, the Ingersoll Cheese & Agriculture Museum celebrates “Thomas Ingersoll Day” - on the birthday of the town’s founder. Moving into summer, Ingersoll becomes a haven for folk music fans during the Canterbury Folk Festival in July. This festival has performances and activities across seven different stages, food and craft vendors, a beer garden, and a prize raffle.
With the hot weather winding down, Ingersoll welcomes the Fall with two festivals: the Harvest Festival at the end of August and Pumpkin Fest in October. Harvest Fest is held in Centennial Park to celebrate the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall. From 10am to 10pm, the park promises a day of family fun activities including vendors, historical and modern agriculture demonstrations, live entertainment, a petting zoo, and fireworks to cap it off. Coming closer to Halloween is Ingersoll’s Pumpkin Fest held at the Ingersoll Cheese & Agriculture Museum. Families can enjoy the Fall season by carving pumpkins, touring the museum, or taking a wagon ride through the park.
Colder weather doesn’t mean the fun needs to end! Ingersoll knows how to celebrate the Winter in style with the Festival of Winter Lights. Starting on November 21st and running until the beginning of January, parks in Ingersoll as well as the downtown area will glow with 350 lighting displays to warm up the town with a little holiday cheer.
Looking for an adventure or an outing? Check out these Ingersoll destinations:
The Oxford County Cheese Trail and the Ingersoll Cheese & Agriculture Museum
Ingersoll Ontario is a prime spot on the Oxford Cheese Trail - a heritage tour through the county exposing people the rich history of the dairy industry. Dedicated to that history is the Ingersoll Cheese & Agriculture Museum. On top of cultivating an awesome collection of Ingersoll history (including that “Mammoth Cheese” replica!), the museum also shines in the community for its education tours, historic demonstrations, and contribution to community festivals and events. Visitors can see a Blacksmith Shop, a Sports Hall of Fame, a barn filled with historic agriculture tools, and a replica of a 19th century cheese factory.
Leaping Deer Adventure Park & Market
It’s a park, a farm, a market, and an adventure all rolled into one great outdoor destination. The Adventure Park consists of a massive 10+ acre corn maze, peddle carts, animal barns, wagon rides, pig races, and much more! Once you escape the corn maze, Leaping Deer also has a country store filled with agriculture-inspired gifts, and a bakery with freshly baked desserts waiting to be devoured.
Elm Hurst Inn & Spa
If you are in need of some pampering, then you simply must visit the Elm Hurst Inn & Spa. Located in the 1872 former family home of James Harris (owner of the Cheese Factory), both the grounds and the mansion itself are beautifully maintained for the enjoyment of spa-day appointments and overnight guests alike. The spa facilities include private rooms, manicures, pedicures, jacuzzi, saunas, and a steam room with a variety of treatments available. If you do stay overnight, some spa packages even allow you to get private treatment from the comfort of your room!
Best Restaurants and Specialty Food Shops in Ingersoll
Ingersoll’s place on the Oxford County Cheese Trail marks it as a bit of a culinary tourism destination. As such, here is a list of not only fabulous restaurants, but also some specialty shops to pique your taste buds. Some of these restaurants can be quite popular, so be sure to call and reserve a table ahead of time.
Louie’s Pizza & Pasta
Featured on the Food Network’s “You Gotta Eat Here!”, Louie’s Pizza and Pasta is a bustling diner-style restaurant serving a hybrid of Italian and North American food. They have heaping portions of just about everything you are craving - not to mention that staggering size of the pizza topping selection alone. The menu is massive with entire pages dedicated to their impressive list of pizza, sandwiches, and burgers. Popular choices are the raved about specialty pizza, panzerotti, and charbroiled BBQ back ribs. If you don’t have time to stay and dine, they offer a takeout menu too.
P.B.’s French Fries
Craving deep-fried goodness? P.B.’s French Fries are proclaimed the best in the area by Ingersoll residents and it’s popular with people passing through too. This old fashioned food truck - well, Airstream trailer, actually - serves town-favorite fries that are hot, crispy, and fresh. With 55 years serving Ingersoll, this family business is definitely worth stopping off the highway for.
Friendly service, great prices, and a diverse Thai food menu come together to make Mango Salad a community gem. The food options are extensive, allowing for steamed, sticky, or coconut rice to be mixed in with five different curry options as well as a hefty Stir-Fry section. That diversity can also be found in Mango Salad’s consideration for special diets. They clearly mark the 17 gluten-free options on their menu and they will substitute any meat in a dish for tofu. If you have room in your belly after a full meal, Mango Salad also offers a small selection of traditional Thai desserts: Sweet coconut sticky rice (with or without fresh mango) and deep fried banana fritters sweetened with peanuts and honey.
The Olde Bakery Cafe
If you enjoy a steaming specialty coffee, a decadent dessert, or both, then The Olde Bakery Cafe has a table just for you! In addition to coffees, lattes, and baked goods, this cafe also serves a soup of the day made with fresh, seasonal, local ingredients. To top it off, the Olde Bakery Cafe will fill custom cake orders too. They are able to substitute dairy, gluten, or allergens for equally delicious alternatives. Stop into The Olde Bakery Cafe for lunch and maybe even be tempted by the cheesecake…
This downtown Ingersoll shop sells the delectable combination of hand-made artisan chocolates and teas of the world. Truffles, Bark, Clusters, Caramels, Toffees are all specialties of owner and chocolatier, Cindy Walker. All chocolates are made with locally-sourced ingredients and made traditionally, without preservatives to craft the most authentic taste possible. The tea selection is all ethically traded and provides excellent samples of black, green, white, oolong, rooibos, Pu-Erh, and herbal teas from around the world. Stop in to try some locally crafted chocolate and carefully collected tea, or why not try both? Green Tea Truffles anyone?
Wine Cellar & Cheese Shop
Cheese once defined Ingersoll, so finding a specialty shop to keep the tradition alive is a perfect addition to this list. The Wine Cellar & Cheese Shop has a full and varied stock of both cheese and wine as well as the knowledgeable staff to help visitors pair them together. Whether it’s campfire baked brie or a fine Ontario ice wine, a wine and cheese lover is sure to find something here to impress. In addition to the shop, the Wine Cellar also offers the services to ferment and bottle your own wine!
Ingersoll, Ontario might not be the “Cheese Capital” of Oxford County anymore, but its modernization has brought so many more claims to fame. With heritage celebrations, seasonal festivals, and culinary excellence, the true character of this manufacturing town is in the enthusiasm of its welcoming community.