Acton, Ontario – My Top 8 Picks

Acton, Ontario – My Top 8 Picks

Acton is located at the intersection of Highway 7 and Halton Regional Road 25. Methodist preachers Ezra and Zenas Adams and their brother Rufus settled on the west branch of the Credit River in the 1820s. A community of pioneer families grew around the Adams family farms. Nicklin’s saw and grist mill and Nelles’ tannery operated here by the early 1840s.

Acton was first named Danville when Settler Wheeler Green opened a dry-goods store in 1828. It was later called Adamsville, after the early settlers. In 1846, the postmaster named the community after the area of Acton in West London, England.

Tanning was an important industry in Acton from 1844 when the first tannery was established. The area was attractive to the leather industry because of the large numbers of trees. Acton was known as the leather capital of Canada. At the turn of the century, it was the largest tanning center in the British Empire. The tannery continued in operation until its closure in September 1986.

The town’s location was chosen because of the good source of waterpower from the Black Creek, and the flour mill established at the beginning is still in operation today, although its source of power has changed. Acton is near the watershed between the Credit River and the Grand River which is just west of the urban area where the Blue Springs Creek begins.

Architectural Photos, Acton, Ontario

Queen Anne style, three-storey turret, architraves with keystones, verge board trim on gables, fretwork, ionic pillars

Architectural Photos, Acton, Ontario

39 Willow Street – Knox Manse established 1889 – Italianate with two-and-a-half storey tower-like bay, pediment above pillared porch, fretwork and verge board on gable

Architectural Photos, Acton, Ontario

55 Mill Street East was built in 1879 by William H. Storey who came to Canada as a child in 1845 and came to Acton in 1856 as a saddle apprentice. He branched out on his own and eventually owned the Storey Glove Factory which was located on Bower Avenue (where the Post Office is now). He built this beautiful Victorian Home at 55 Mill Street East for his family. It was called “The Sunderland Villa”. His carriage house was located at 7 John Street and he heated the carriage house and his home via underground steam pipes from the factory. Mr. Storey died in 1898. After the First World War the building was used to house soldiers and then sat derelict for a number of years until Victor Rumley purchased it in 1937 and moved The MacKinnon Family Funeral Home with Shoemaker Chapel to this location.

Architectural Photos, Acton, Ontario

105 Mill Street – Italianate, hipped roof, corner quoins, banding

Architectural Photos, Acton, Ontario

129 Mill Street – Gothic Revival, dichromatic brickwork, corner quoins

Architectural Photos, Acton, Ontario

98 Church Street – Moorecroft c. 1896 – Italianate, Doric pillars, dormer in attic, wraparound verandah on lower level, pillared balcony on second floor

Architectural Photos, Acton, Ontario

19 Willow Street North – Acton Town Hall opened in 1883 with a grand ball and remained the hub of Acton’s social life for over 80 years. The upstairs auditorium was used for meetings, dances, concerts, Sunday School plays, amateur dramatics, and minstrel shows. The police station, council chambers, library, and practice room for the Acton Citizens’ Band were housed downstairs. In 1974 the regional government moved out of Acton to Georgetown. It is in the Italianate style, cornice brackets, cupola, arched voussoirs with keystones over the windows, cornice return on the gable of the two-and-a-half storey frontispiece; sidelights and transom windows around the front door.

Architectural Photos, Acton, Ontario

69-71 Bower Street – Syndicate Houses built 1882 – Five double houses were built by the Acton Building Association as tenements for workers. Each is remarkable for its distinctive brick pattern

Rockwood, Ontario – My Top 4 Picks

Rockwood, Ontario – My Top 4 Picks

Rockwood is located on Highway 7 between Acton and the city of Guelph.  The Eramosa River runs through the center of the village.

Early settlers to this area were Quakers. John Harris, the first settler, erected a shanty in 1821. In 1840 Colonel Henry Strange settled and brought further development to the area which became known as Strange’s Mills. Strange was the Deputy Provincial Surveyor and he opened a lime quarry which provided stone for building mills.  In the 1850s the community became known as Rockwood which reflected the lovely river valley, mixed forest, high rocky hills, and geological potholes. The Eramosa River provided power for John Gamble’s sawmill which was the first in Wellington County. Grist, flour, oatmeal, stave, and woolen mills followed. A post office was opened in 1853 and the Grand Trunk Railway opened a station in 1855.

Architectural Photos, Rockwood, Ontario

149 Main Street – limestone house, cobblestone architecture

Architectural Photos, Rockwood, Ontario

477 Main Street – Rockwood Academy – Georgian style – three-storey stone building with limestone walls, rough-cut quoins, symmetrical five-bay façade with double-hung six-over-six wood sash windows with a central door with a portico and a transom window and sidelights. It has a low-pitched cedar-shingle gable roof with many small brick and stone chimneys. The owner’s bedrooms still exist on the second floor, as do the students’ bedrooms on the third floor. The south wing still has the classroom below the student bedrooms. The west wing remains unaltered and contains a carriage house on the ground floor with a gymnasium above.

Architectural Photos, Rockwood, Ontario

130 Guelph Street – Gothic Revival, verge board trim on gables, corner quoins, arched voussoirs, two-storey tower-like bay

Architectural Photos, Rockwood, Ontario

125 Richardson Street – Italianate, hipped roof, dormer in attic

Arthur, Ontario – My Top 9 Picks

Arthur, Ontario – My Top 9 Picks

(There are so many beautiful old homes in Arthur that it was difficult to choose only a few.)

Arthur is located just north of Highway 6 and Wellington Road 109 in the township of Wellington North.

Arthur, named for Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, was the southern terminus of the Garafraxa “colonization road” to Owen Sound.  Settlers arrived in 1840 with the town site being officially surveyed in 1846.  The establishment of saw and grist mills hastened growth in the community which was also the natural market center for the area’s agricultural production.

In 1851 a post office was opened and the first church and school were organized.  A weekly newspaper, The Arthur Enterprise News, began publication in 1863 and a Division Court met at Arthur.  In 1872, a station of the Toronto Grey and Bruce Railway was opened in the community.

In 1897, Arthur was one of the first villages in Ontario to be served by a power transmission line. There were no meters, but people were charged ten cents for each light bulb used. Power was available in the evenings and was cut off at midnight.

James Morrison, an influential activist in farmers’ causes, lived two kilometers south of Arthur.  He entered politics in the early 1900s, a time when many farmers felt ignored in an increasingly urban and industrial society.  Morrison helped form the United Farmers of Ontario (UFO) and the United Farmers’ Cooperative in 1914.  Morrison advocated cooperative effort among farmers.

Architectural Photos, Arthur, Ontario

Gothic Revival, corner quoins

Architectural Photos, Arthur, Ontario

131 Frederick Street West – Gothic Revival, stone architecture, cornice brackets, cornice return on gables

Architectural Photos, Arthur, Ontario

111 Frederick Street West – Gothic Revival, verge board trim on gables, corner quoins

Architectural Photos, Arthur, Ontario

135 Frederick Street West – Gothic Revival, dichromatic brickwork, corner quoins

Architectural Photos, Arthur, Ontario

261 Tucker Street – Second Empire – mansard roof, dormers, cornice brackets

Architectural Photos, Arthur, Ontario

171 Tucker Street – Italianate, hipped roof, balcony on second floor

Architectural Photos, Arthur, Ontario

220 Smith Street – corner quoins, 3½ storey tower-like bays

Architectural Photos, Arthur, Ontario

240 Smith Street – Bellview – A.D. 1887 – stone architecture, bay windows, dormer on roof, paired cornice brackets

Architectural Photos, Arthur, Ontario

271 Smith Street – Gothic Revival, verge board trim and finial on gables, stone architecture, bay windows, cornice brackets

Tillsonburg, Ontario – My Top 5 Picks

Tillsonburg, Ontario – My Top 5 Picks

Tillsonburg is a town in Oxford County located about 50 kilometers southeast of London on Highway 3 at the junction of Highway 19 which connects to Highway 401.

The area was settled in 1825 by George Tillson and other immigrants from Massachusetts. A forge and sawmill were erected and roads built which led to the establishment of a settlement on the Big Otter Creek originally called Dereham Forge.

In 1836 the village was renamed Tillsonburg in honor of its founder. It was also in this year that the main street, Broadway, was laid out to its full 100-foot (30 meter) width. Because the village was predominantly a logging and wood product center, the street width was to accommodate the turning of three-team logging wagons. This width has become a benefit toward handling the pressures of modern-day traffic by providing angled parking. The extension of Broadway north was called Plank Line and is now known as Highway 19.

The water system supplied pure water for domestic use, and provided water power to such industries as a sawmill, planing mill, grist mill, spinning mill, pottery and a tannery. Many of these new establishments were owned, started, or financed by George Tillson.

In 1915, a Public Library was built with funds provided by the Carnegie Foundation, and the town’s Memorial Hospital was constructed in 1925. In the 1920s, major enterprises included milk production, manufacture of shoes, tractors, textiles and tobacco.

Architectural Photos, Tillsonburg, Ontario

38 Ridout Street West – Casa di Luca Restaurant – Queen Anne style, verge board trim on gable, turret

Architectural Photos, Tillsonburg, Ontario

299 Broadway Street – two-storey bay windows, cornice brackets, verge board trim

Architectural Photos, Tillsonburg, Ontario

276 Broadway Street – Queen Anne, turret

Architectural Photos, Tillsonburg, Ontario

300 Broadway Street – verge board trim

Architectural Photos, Tillsonburg, Ontario

30 Tillson Avenue – Annandale National Historic Site – Constructed in seven years in the 1880s, this was the farm house for E.D. Tillson’s 600 acre Model Farm. The interior of the house exemplifies the Victorian style of design known as the “Aesthetic Art Movement” which was popularized by Oscar Wilde, and encouraged the use of color and decorative detailing. There are hand-painted ceilings, elaborate inlaid floors, ornate mantles, and stained glass throughout.

Drayton, Ontario and area – My Top 6 Picks

Drayton, Ontario and area – My Top 6 Picks

Centre Wellington is a township in south-central Ontario.  The primary communities in the township are Elora and Fergus.  Some of the smaller communities are Alma, Salem, and Speedside.

Parker was a settlement in Ontario, located along the Elora-Saugeen road. Settlers moved to the area to begin new lives and to farm. To provide accommodation for travelers in horse-drawn vehicles, a hotel opened in 1850.  In 1865, Thomas Burns opened a post office which brought a few neighboring businesses to the area.  As travel became more modern, the need for overnight stay diminished and the town began to dwindle. It is still used for farming today but the hotel and post office have closed. The school house is still standing and is a private home, painted pink.

Conestogo Lake Conservation Area is in the heart of Mennonite country. It is on a y-shaped lake that stretches six kilometers up each arm. A unique feature of this area is the huge concrete flood control dam and reservoir surrounded by large tracts of forest, giving the appearance that the park is in northern Ontario. This is a multi-recreational use park for camping, power boating, sailing, water skiing, canoeing and fishing.

Glen Allan is located in Wellington County southeast of Conestogo Lake.

Yatton is located in Wellington County. The area was settled by people in the early 1820s, when Black Loyalists, African-Canadians and African-American immigrants arrived in the wilderness of the Queen’s Bush. Until the late 1840s the Queen’s Bush remained an unorganized territory. Three African-Canadian churches were constructed in the Queen’s Bush and one of them was in Yatton which Reverend Samuel H. Brown established on his farm.

Drayton is a community in Wellington County.  The village is on the corner of Wellington Road 8 and Wellington Road 11, and is located northwest of Fergus and southwest of Arthur.

Architectural Photos, Alma, Ontario

Alma, Ontario – triple gable Gothic Revival, dichromatic brickwork, bay window, arched window voussoirs

Architectural Photos, Glen Allan, Ontario

Glen Allan, Ontario – Log Cabin

Architectural Photos, Drayton, Ontario

Drayton, Ontario – 28 Wood Street – hipped roof

Architectural Photos, Drayton, Ontario

81 John Street, Drayton, Ontario – dichromatic brickwork

Architectural Photos, Drayton, Ontario

19 Edward Street, Drayton, Ontario

Architectural Photos, Speedside, Ontario

Speedside, Ontario – Gothic Revival – cobblestone architecture

Aylmer, Ontario – My Top 10 Picks

Aylmer, Ontario – My Top 10 Picks

Aylmer is located in southern Ontario just north of Lake Erie on Catfish Creek.  It is 20 kilometers south of Highway 401. It is located on Highway 3 between St. Thomas to the west, and Tillsonburg to the east.

In October 1817, John Van Patter, an emigrant from New York State, obtained 200 acres of land and was the first settler on the site of Aylmer. During the 1830s a general store was opened and village lots sold.

Originally called Troy, in 1835 it was renamed Aylmer after Lord Aylmer, then Governor-in-Chief of British North America. By 1851 local enterprises included sawmills and flour-mills powered by water from Catfish Creek.

By the mid-1860s Aylmer, with easy access to Lake Erie, became the marketing center for a rich agricultural and timber producing area. Aylmer benefited greatly from the construction of the 145-mile Canada Air Line Railway from Glencoe to Fort Erie.

The coming of the Great Western Air Line Railway in 1873 encouraged manufacturing and mills, a foundry, a pork-packing house, a milk-evaporating plant, and shoe factory were among the main establishments. An Airfield for training was established nearby in World War 2 which became the nucleus of the Ontario Police College.

The Aylmer Canning Factory was established in 1879; it packed peas, beans, cider, pickles, vinegar, sauces, meats and fruits.

Imperial Tobacco Canada built a plant in 1945. At its peak, it employed more than 600 full-time and seasonal workers. In its prime, the plant could store 110 million tons of tobacco and had an October to April production capacity of 100 million tons. Of this, 20 to 25 million tons were for export to other countries, making it one of Canada’s leading exporters. The rest of the processed tobacco was shipped to Imperial’s cigarette production plant in Guelph. After declining tobacco sales in Canada, Imperial began downsizing in the 1990s and closed in 2007.

 

Archtiectural Photos, Aylmer, Ontario

445 Talbot Street West – Second Empire style, mansard roof, iron cresting, window hoods on dormers – Aylmer Book 1

Archtiectural Photos, Aylmer, Ontario

375 Talbot Street West – Italianate, cornice brackets, two-storey tower-like bays, balcony on second floor – Aylmer Book 1

Archtiectural Photos, Aylmer, Ontario

Talbot Street West – Queen Anne style, turret,
trichromatic tile work – Aylmer Book 1

Archtiectural Photos, Aylmer, Ontario

30 South Street – Georgian, belvedere on rooftop – Aylmer Book

Archtiectural Photos, Aylmer, Ontario

52 South Street – Gothic Revival, verge board trim – Aylmer Book 1

Archtiectural Photos, Aylmer, Ontario

193 John Street South – Queen Anne style – c. 1899 – Ionic columns with scroll-like capitals – Aylmer Book 1

Archtiectural Photos, Aylmer, Ontario

24 Pine Street – McLay-Minielly house built in 1853 in Classical Neo-Grecian (see Renaissance Revival style in appendix) architecture in frame construction of tongue and groove siding; entablature consisting of dentils, bands of moulding, frieze, and architrave; two-storey-high Doric pillars, pediment – Aylmer Book 2

Archtiectural Photos, Aylmer, Ontario

150 Sydenham Street East – Italianate, paired cornice brackets, bay window, wraparound porch – Aylmer Book 2

Archtiectural Photos, Aylmer, Ontario

111 Sydenham Street East – Queen Anne style, turret – Aylmer Book 2

Archtiectural Photos, Aylmer, Ontario

46 Talbot Street West – Aylmer Town Hall and Municipal Offices – clock tower, dormers, cupola, arched window voussoirs – Aylmer Book 2

Dorchester to Aylmer, Ontario – My Top 6 Picks

Dorchester to Aylmer, Ontario – My Top 6 Picks

Thames Centre is a municipality in Middlesex County located in southwestern Ontario a few kilometres east of London.  Communities in the township include: Avon, Belton, Cherry Grove, Crampton, Cobble Hill, Derwent, Devizes, Dorchester, Evelyn, Fanshawe Lake, Friendly Corners, Gladstone, Harrietsville, Kelly Station, Mossley, Nilestown, Oliver, Putnam, Salmonville, Silvermoon, Thorndale, Three Bridges, and Wellburn. Dorchester is the residential and commercial core of the township.

 

Mossley

Until 1840 the Mossley area was an untouched wilderness of pines, maples, and beeches.  The first settlers from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales worked hard to clear the land for farming. They came with few tools but great hope for a better way of life, and they prospered.  In the 1800s this area was known simply as “The Corners”. In 1865 John Henry Amos opened a general store and was the first postmaster.  The name Mossley was chosen from two family names, the Mossips and the Lees. Mossley had a hotel, a cheese factory, a harness repair shop, and there were dressmakers and music teachers.

 

Malahide Township was named for Malahide Castle in Malahide, Ireland, birthplace of land grant administrator Colonel Thomas Talbot in 1810. The township comprises the communities of Candyville, Crossley-Hunter, Copenhagen, Dunboyne, Fairview, Glencolin, Grovesend, Jaffa, Kingsmill, Lakeview, Little Aylmer, Luton, Lyons, Mile Corner, Mount Salem, Mount Vernon, Ormond Beach, Orwell, Port Bruce, Seville, Springfield, Summers Corners and Waneeta Beach.

Architectural Photos, Dorchester, Ontario

31 Mill Road, Dorchester – Mr. Cartwright’s stone house built in 1866 with river and field stones with eighteen inch thick walls – Georgian style. There are ten main rooms. There is a “widow’s walk” or belvedere on the roof with a view of the river from windows on all four sides.

Architectural Photos, Dorchester, Ontario

15 Bridge Street, Dorchester – The Signpost – Gothic Revival, verge board trim on gables

Architectural Photos, Dorchester, Ontario

4026 Hamilton Road, Dorchester – Edwardian with Italianate features, two-storey bay window, pediment

Architectural Photos, Dorchester, Ontario

4088 Hamilton Road, Dorchester – Edwardian with two-and-a-half storey tower-like bay

Architectural Photos, Mossley, Ontario

5391 Elgin Road – Harrietsville-Mossley United Church – former Methodist Church – 1896 – Gothic Revival

Architectural Photos, Port Bruce, Ontario

Port Bruce – #3237 – built in 1854

Palmerston, Ontario – My Top 7 Picks

Palmerston, Ontario – My Top 7 Picks

Palmerston is located in Wellington County, west of Arthur, northeast of Listowel, and northwest of Kitchener and Waterloo.

The opening in 1871 of a station on the main line of the Wellington, Grey and Bruce Railway soon to be completed from Guelph to Southampton, provided the nucleus around which a community developed.  In its original concept the railroad was to run from Guelph to Harriston and would not have gone through Palmerston.  Listowel needed to be linked to the railroad and it was decided to bend the route toward Listowel.  It was also decided that a yard with maintenance shops would be needed.  As soon as the railroad decided where it would build, people started buying property around the area for businesses and homes.

Thomas McDowell was the first settler in 1854 on the site.  In 1872 McDowell and William Thompson who owned adjoining land, began selling town lots and by 1873 the community had 150 inhabitants.

In 1873 a branch line to Listowel was completed and a post office called Palmerston, named after Lord Palmerston, a celebrated English statesman, was opened.

Architectural Photos, Palmerston, Ontario

Main Street – Gothic Revival, dichromatic brickwork, bay windows, corner quoins

Architectural Photos, Palmerston, Ontario

Main Street – dentil molding, dichromatic brickwork

Architectural Photos, Palmerston, Ontario

Bell Street – Gothic Revival, verge board trim, fretwork

Architectural Photos, Palmerston, Ontario

125 James Street

Architectural Photos, Palmerston, Ontario

485 King Street – triple gable Gothic Revival, dichromatic brickwork, corner quoins, bay windows

Architectural Photos, Palmerston, Ontario

725 King Street – Edwardian – Romanesque style window voussoirs, fretwork, pediment above verandah

Architectural Photos, Palmerston, Ontario

670 Yonge Street – Gothic Revival, corner quoins

Listowel, Ontario – My Top 6 Picks

Listowel, Ontario – My Top 6 Picks

Listowel is located in the municipality of North Perth, northwest of Kitchener/Waterloo, and west of Elmira on Highway 86.

Settler John Binning arrived in 1857 and was the first to create a permanent residence in the area. The community was originally named Mapleton, but the name was changed when a post office was established. The new name was chosen by a government official and refers to Listowel, Ireland (a market town in County Kerry situated on the River Feale, twenty-eight kilometers, or seventeen miles, from the county town, Tralee.) The majority of early settlers were of Protestant Irish origin.

In 1871 the Wellington, Grey and Bruce Railway extended its line to Listowel. It was joined in 1873 by a second railway, the Stratford and Huron Railway, and Listowel became an important shipping point. The population doubled when industries, including a woolen mill, a sawmill, a planing mill and a tannery, were established. In 1891 the Morris, Field, Rogers Company Ltd began to manufacture Morris pianos in Listowel.

In 1907, hydroelectric and telephone services came to the town with the Princess cinema. During World War II the theater was renamed the Capitol and remains Canada’s oldest operating cinema.

The Campbell Soup Company was a major local employer for 48 years, operating a frozen, food service and specialty food plant in Listowel.  The factory closed in April 2008. The surrounding area is mostly agricultural land located on the Perth Plain, dominated by the beef and pork industries.

Architectural Photos, Listowel, Ontario

215 Binning Street West – two-storey, white brick, tower, dormer – originally this was a full three storeys high with a Mansard roof; a fire in 1922 damaged the upper level and a new roof was added in the Queen Anne style; spindle railing around circular balcony, Doric pillars, pediment

Architectural Photos, Listowel, Ontario

415 Inkerman Street West – built in two distinct styles – the larger east half is Italianate with paired cornice brackets, iron cresting above porch and above bay window, decorative gable; the smaller west half is rural Ontario design with a verandah

Architectural Photos, Listowel, Ontario

370 Inkerman Street West – triple gable Gothic Revival

Architectural Photos, Listowel, Ontario

469 Main Street West – Second Empire style, Mansard roof, dormers with window hoods, built of Wallace brick – was once on edge of town and operated as the Last Chance Hotel – last chance for a drink before leaving town

Architectural Photos, Listowel, Ontario

507 Main Street West – Queen Anne style with plenty of windows, chimneys and gables

Architectural Photos, Listowel, Ontario

555 Main Street West – Italianate with four-storey tower, belvedere on roof – site of Listowel’s first settler John Binning’s log cabin; the present house is one of the oldest in town, built in 1860, tower and front half added in 1870

Wellesley, Ontario – My Top 6 Picks

Wellesley, Ontario – My Top 6 Picks

The Township of Wellesley is the rural, north-western township of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. The township comprises the communities of Bamberg, Crosshill, Hawkesville, Heidelberg, Kingwood, Knight’s Corners, Linwood, Macton, St. Clements, Wallenstein and Wellesley.

The country scenery and rolling hills, along with its small town feel, have transformed the township into a commuter town with the population travelling into the nearby cities of Kitchener and Waterloo for work.

Wellesley Township was surveyed in 1842, but settlers were in this area long before.  The town of Wellesley’s original name was Schmidtsville, derived from its founding settler, John Schmidt.  In 1851, the town was renamed Wellesley after Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley, the eldest brother of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. The community quickly grew to be the largest economic centre in rural Waterloo Region with a wood mill, feed mill, grain mill (which still stands after being constructed in 1856), leather tanner, cheese factory, restaurants and housing, and many other businesses that also brought much trade to the town from the nearby farms and farming villages.

When the Waterloo County boundaries were established in 1852 they included the townships of Waterloo, Wellesley, Wilmot, Woolwich, and North Dumfries.

The first library in Wellesley Village was incorporated in 1900. The current branch is located in the former S.S. No. 16 Wellesley Township public school building. The school closed its doors in 1967.

Architectural Photos, Wellesley, Ontario

1115 Queen’s Bush Road – Italianate style, hipped roof, dormer

Architectural Photos, Wellesley, Ontario

1110 Queen’s Bush Road – Queen Anne style

Architectural Photos, Wellesley, Ontario

1155 Queen’s Bush Road – Queen Anne style

Architectural Photos, Wellesley, Ontario

1189 Queen’s Bush Road – cobblestone architecture, cornice return on end gable

Architectural Photos, Wellesley, Ontario

1193 Queen’s Bush Road – Nith River Chop House – Second Empire style – mansard roof with dormers

Architectural Photos, Wellesley, Ontario

Nafziger Road – Edwardian – wraparound verandahs on both storeys, Palladian window, fretwork