From the beginning, it's been rough.

Brockville is a place where the harbour is shallow and it is too rocky to farm. In the early days, it was known as "Snarling Town" because the founders fought so much.

Those 18th century founders were United Empire Loyalists. They are credited for establishing a courthouse and formal government.

Brockville was Ontario's first incorporated town.

Since being founded in 1785, the Seaway settlement has endured its share of industrial ups and downs.

"The major industry here in the 1890s was the Canada Carriage Company," says local historian Brian Potter.

Later it would try to establish itself as a place known for building cars. But at the time, someone named Henry Ford gobbled up the market.

For the last century and a half, the waterfront has been the town's industrial heart.

In the last decade, however, manufacturing is slipping away.

Now the town is looking to reinvent by providing recreation and attracting retirees.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Graham Richardson