Upper Canada provided a wealth of raw materials for the merchant barons in Montreal. In addition to supplying the needs for colonising the province, the vast forests supplied lumbers that would go over to England to provide materials for constructing the mighty warships of the Royal Navy. Agriculture fed the growing population and the armies of England. But the preparation of these two things required mills. In addition to the shipyards, some of the earliest businesses in Oakville were mills. Running water was the best source of power for the first mills in the region. A lot with a water source provided not only irrigationRead More →

As mentioned last week, the main reason for Chisholm’s desire to purchase the area where Oakville sprung up was the presence of the mouth of the Sixteen Mile Creek. Despite being a shallow creek, it has the potential as a natural harbour. By 1827 the Welland Canal and improvements along the St. Lawerance River had improved trade routes through Upper and Lower Canada and over to England. The mouth of the Sixteen Mile Creek was noted for a large gravel bar in the middle, splitting the planned harbour into two entrances. Chisholm directed his son Robert and son-in-law Merrick Thomas to dredge out the mouthRead More →

It only took ten weeks to get to the founding of Oakville itself. Oakville is the product of William Chisholm’s vision, Merrick Thomas’s planning, and the hard work of those who did the hard work. And while today, construction is straightforward and mechanised, in the 1830s, everything had to be done by hand, and it took more than one person to build a community. The land around the mouth of the Sixteen Mile Creek was ceded to the British Crown under Treaty 22 in 1822. Although it had been left in the stewardship of the Mississauga’s during the 1805 Treaty 14 purchase, the area wasRead More →

If there is a first family for Oakville, that family is the Chisholms. You cannot mention the founding of Oakville without having the Chisholms in the same breath. And the family is directly tied to the history of Oakville from its founding into the middle of the 20th Century. Born to a loyalist family in Nova Scotia, William and his family moved to the township of Nelson in 1793, near the modern city of Burlington. As the son of a land owner, William received an Ensign commission in the 2nd Battalion, York Militia. During the Anglo-American War of 1812, he saw combat at the CaptureRead More →

If there were another urban centre in Trafalgar township that could rival Oakville and remain a fiercely independent community today, it would be Bronte. Located at the mouth of Twelve Mile Creek and a vibrant community tied to Lake Ontario, today, it is more an upscale suburb of Oakville but retains much of its character. The land where Bronte grew up had the largest number of Indigenous Settlements dating back to the earliest signs of human settlement in the region. In 1805, most of the land was ceded to the Crown under Treaty 14. At the same time, the land around the creek mouth continuedRead More →

The small village of Sixteen is another of the lost villages and was among the first to be lost from Trafalgar Township. Located deep in the Sixteen Mile Creek valley, the village was hard to access because of the dangerous road into the valley. Of the many villages that made up Trafalgar Township, Sixteen Hollow was among the last ones to be established. In 1827, George Chalmer established a grist mill and a sawmill in the creek valley where Dundas Road crossed the creek; he also built a new bridge over the creek to help those travelling the road. Despite the treacherous climb into theRead More →

Postville is among the lost villages of the Trafalgar Township, with only a few things left around that remind people that a small but thriving village once stood at the modern intersection of Trafalgar Road and Dundas Street. And Postville is the village I did not intend to write about, thinking this small farmhouse was part of Munn’s Corner; thank goodness for plaques. The Post family began purchasing properties around the intersection of 7th Side Road (Trafalgar) and Dundas Road between 1812 and 1816. Jordan, Ephriam, and Abigal. Abigal’s properties were inherited by her son Jordan Jr upon her death. The small community took theRead More →

Long before William Chisholm established his lakeside community, the earliest settlers of the Trafalgar Township established small communities along Dundas Road; some villages were often completely forgotten or so small that they never saw much mention. But others seemed to thrive until the 1960s. Palermo is one such village with a rich past, and traces can still be seen today. Lawerence Hagger arrived in Upper Canada in 1799; a loyalist initially from Pennsylvania, Hagger settled near the modern community of Grimsby before moving to the Trafalgar Township in 1806. Hagger purchased a lot where the contemporary intersection of Dundas Street and Old Bronte Road. ARead More →

The term township in southern Ontario is a bit of a throwback. It’s often referenced within a historical context and is often seen in the province of Quebec (The Eastern Townships) or further north in Ontario. But the township formed a core of the colonial survey of Upper Canada as one of the subdivisions of the province for settlement purposes. The province was subdivided for several purposes during the colonisation of Upper Canada. The coordination of the provincial militia, representation in the colonial parliament, and the division and sale of land. After the province was the district, districts were large geographical areas and were oftenRead More →

While the water provided a fast and efficient means of travel, southern Ontario only had a small fraction of territory easily accessed by navigable waterways before creating a system of canals. Colonisation roads were among the earliest infrastructure projects by British authorities to help move troops around the newly created province of Upper Canada and later settlers to head deeper into the province’s backwater. And while Sixteen Mile Creek provided a source of power and drinking water, the movement of people was more easily done through a system of roads. And the earliest road was Dundas Road. The British were a people of order; theyRead More →