BRANTFORD, a quick 40km west of Hamilton on Hwy-403, takes its name from Joseph Brant, an Iroquois chieftain who was one of the most intriguing figures of colonial Canada. Brant helped the British during the American War of Independence and, after their defeat, he and his followers were obliged to make a hasty exit from New York State before the Americans could take their revenge. The British stayed loyal to their ally (just about) and in 1784 Brant was ceded a large tract of land beside the Grand River on the site of what is today Brantford. European settlers reached the area in numbers in the 1850s and subsequently Brantford developed as a manufacturing centre churning out agricultural equipment by the wagon load. By the 1980s, however, the town was in decline as many of its factories and foundries went bust or relocated. Brantford still bears the scars of this de-industrialization, but a concerted effort has been made to breathe new life into the centre and, for the most part, this has been a success with a batch of new leisure facilities and shopping malls. For Canadians, Brantford is most famous as the home town of Wayne Gretzky, probably the greatest ice-hockey player of all time; for everyone else, the town is best known as being the one-time home of the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell.
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