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The area was first settled by the Chippewa, who established a village on the Thames River. The land was ceded to the Crown in 1783 and became part of Upper Canada. In 1827, William Purdy founded what is now Chatham, which became an important shipbuilding centre. Other settlements developed along waterways and railways that arrived soon after; among them were Blenheim (1836), Dresden (1850), Tilbury East (1851) and Ridgetown (1901). In 1973, all municipal governments within Kent County were amalgamated into one entity called "Municipality of Chatham-Kent".