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Canadian History
South Bruce

Town of Kincardine

On March 5th, 1848, William Withers and Allan Cameron landed by ship at the mouth of the Penetangore River.  They were first settlers in what would become the Town of Kincardine.  Kincardine was incorporated as a village in 1858.

In its early years as a town, Kincardine had a busy harbour receiving passenger steamships, cargo ships and Huron skiffs.  Hospitality and sand beaches have drawn many people to Kincardine over the years.  The harbour no longer receives steamships or cargo vessels but has evolved into a fine harbour for yachts and sailing ships.

Kincardine is famous for its sunsets with its distinctive lighthouse glowing in the foreground.  Every Saturday in the summer,  a parade,  featuring Scottish pipes, takes place on the main street.  Kincardine is close to the Bruce Nuclear Power Development and many Kincardine citizens are employed there.  Kincardine is surrounded by the rich agricultural land of Kincardine Township.

Kincardine Township

The area that would become Kincardine Township was part of a large tract of land that was ceded from First Nations Peoples in 1836.  The ceded land was known as the “Queen's Bush.  Settlers began to arrive as the area was being surveyed.  Kincardine Township was first settled in the 1850’s as a result of the large agricultural development that was beginning in Southern Ontario.  The Township offered prime farmland.

Kincardine Township's agricultural peak occurred in the late 1800’s.  During the period 1900-1950, the rural/agricultural economic trend shifted to an urban/industrial base.  The population decreased as small town businesses closed and improved transportation systems developed which helped the move to urban areas.

The Township  saw a resurgence of population in the 1970’s when the Bruce Nuclear Power Development construction began.  After the construction phase was completed, the population levelled off and has become stable.

Bruce Township

Bruce Township was initially settled in the early 1850’s.  The Township was surveyed as part of the Queen's Bush, a large tract of land ceded to the British, by the First Nations peoples, in 1836.  In 1854, the government opened the “school lands” for sale and colonization officially began.  By the late 1800’s, Bruce Township had become a thriving agricultural community which provided a wide array of industrial and commercial services.  Between 1900 and 1950, with the economic trends turning downwards towards urbanization, the Township started to see a decline in population as businesses moved towards the urban centres.

The Township of Bruce has since experienced a population resurgence.  This increase was mainly due to the location of the Bruce Nuclear Power Development in the Township in the early 1970’s.  The population declined after construction and has stabilized since then.

Today the Township's economy has remained closely linked to its agricultural heritage as well as the Bruce Nuclear Power Development, Bruce Energy Centre, Integrated Energy Development Corporation and the Bruce Municipal Telephone System.

The population has increased from 1,050 in 1978 to a high of 1,655 in 1991.  Recently, Bruce Township has amalgamated with the Village of Tiverton to form one community.


Tiverton was originally called St. Andrews, a name that came from its predominantly Scottish settlers.  The name was changed to Tiverton when the Canadian Post Office requested the change.  The Post Office did not want to confuse St. Andrews, Ontario with a village of the same name in New Brunswick.

Tiverton was incorporated as a village in 1879.  It was a hub of activity with a grist mill, saw mill, planing mill, pearl-ash factory and a large tannery.  Tiverton is also known for its Farmer’s Market which is held every Saturday from May to October.

Tiverton lies on the Bruce and Kincardine Township boundary.  It is in proximity of the Bruce Nuclear Power Development.  The village offers year round recreation.  Accommodations, restaurants and other services are offered in the village or nearby in surrounding townships.

Recently, Tiverton amalgamated with Bruce Township to form one community.


Paisley is located at the junction of the Teeswater and Saugeen Rivers in Elderslie Township.  The village was established in the 1850’s.  The existing Town Hall was built in 1876.  The Town Hall has one of the smallest jail cells in Ontario.

The Fire Hose Tower was built in 1891 and has since been restored to its original condition.  The tower, along with many fine old buildings, gives Paisley an atmosphere of old world charm.  The decorative cornices, semi-elliptical arches, collonettes and voussoirs add to the old world elegance of the town.  For these reasons, Paisley has become known as the “Heritage Village.”

Paisley is a modern popular place to embark on a canoe trip down the Saugeen River.  Walking trails meander along the riverbank.  Paisley also has a number of shops and boutiques along its main street which add to the uniqueness of the village.


Tara was incorporated as a Village in 1881.  It is surrounded by the rich farmland of Arran Township.  The Sauble River meanders its way around the town giving the area grassy riverbanks and overhanging trees.

The name, “Tara,” comes from the ancient seat of Irish Kings in the County of Meath in Ireland.  In its early years, Tara had a fanning mill, grist mill, woollen mill, saw mill, a tannery and two cabinet factories.  The village is now a picturesque point between Owen Sound and Chesley.

Tara holds its annual Tara-Arran Fall Fair in early September.  The fair is one fo the largest class “C” fairs in Ontario.  It is renowned for its chuck wagon races.

Arran Township

The Township of Arran was incorporated as a township in 1851.  It is comprised of the communities of Elsinore, Alvanley and Allenford on Highway 21.  The hamlets of Burgoyne, Invermay and Arkwright are also part of Arran Township.

Due to declining standards of living and the lure of agricultural possibilities, the majority of the early settlers were from Ireland and Scotland although a few of the settlers were English, French, German, Pennsylvania Dutch and United Empire Loyalists.  The Irish settled on the east side of Arran Lake, becoming known as “Little Ireland,” while the Scottish settled on the west side, which became known as “Little Scotland.”

Arran Township today still has its roots in agriculture.  Many of its farms are still family owned and operated.

Elderslie Township

Elderslie Township was formed in 1851 when George McPhillips surveyed a part of the Queen's Bush (as it was known then).  The name is from the home of the Scottish patriot, Sir William Wallace.  The first person to legally purchase land in Elderslie Township was John Fraser who acquired Lot 34 Concession A.

Elderslie Township is situated in the heart of cattle country with many of its 1158 residents engaged in agricultural pursuits.  Today, people come from all over Ontario to enjoy fishing in or canoeing on the famous Saugeen River.  The river winds its way through Elderslie Township meeting the Teeswater River in Paisley and continuing on to Lake Huron.


The first settlers came to the Chesley area in 1854.  In 1855, the three McLaggan brothers settled onto lots 30 & 31 of concession 2 of Elderslie Township..  These lots, along with lot 29, would eventually become the future site of the Town.   Adam S. Elliot  founded  the Town in 1858.  Elliot opened the first general store and built the first grist and saw mills.

In 1866, there were sixty people living in the clearing by the North Saugeen River.  Chesley was incorporated as a Village in 1880.  The Town received its name from Solomon Chesley, a loyal Canadian who served in the Department of Indian Affairs.  By 1901, the population had grown to 1734 people.  In 1906, Chesley was incorporated as a Town.

Chesley became a booming furniture manufacturing Town.  The population has remained about the same since 1901 with the current census from 1997 showing the population at 1781 people.  With the addition of a new apartment building and several new families in town, Chesley’s current population stands at 1852 people.

Brant Township

Brant Township was labelled “the banner township of Bruce County” very early in the annals of its history.  The history Brant seems to have started when a treaty was signed with the local native tribes in 1836.  It is a popular consensus that the township was named after a local native chief, Joseph Brant.  Many settlers found their way to Brant township in the 1840’s.  Brant’s primary industry in the early days was agriculture, a trend that continues to date.  Early in their existence, the townships of Brant and Greenock found themselves in a political and economical alliance.

Greenock Township

Greenock Township was initially settled in the mid 1800s which coincided with the beginning of a period of significant agricultural development in Southern Ontario. The Township was surveyed a part of “The Queen's Bush”, a large tract of land ceded to the British by the indigenous people in 1836.
The continuing growth of the agricultural community gave birth to small towns and villages, who provided supplies and services for this community. Greenock’s population peaked in the latter 1800’s observing a decline between the 1900s and 1950s. This trend occurred throughout Ontario’s farming community when society became more urbanized and industrialized. This trend continues to this date, yet Greenock’s economy is still closely linked to agriculture.

Town of Walkerton

When Bruce County pioneer Joseph Walker reached the cross-roads of the Durham Road and the Saugeen River in 1851, he decided to stay. Industry and settlement followed his lead and fifteen years later “Walkerton” was proclaimed “The County Town of Bruce”.
This community quickly asserted itself as the major service provider and industrial centre in all of Bruce County.

The former Town of Walkerton is policed by The South Bruce-Grey Police Services.

Huron Township

In August, 1851,  two shiploads of Scottish immigrants from the Isle of Lewis, arrived in Montreal.  109 families from this group arrived in Bruce County in the fall of 1852.  These families settled on the concession roads in Huron Township which became known as “The Lewis Settlement.”  The Township became a thriving agricultural area with many supporting industrial centres and communities springing up.

During the 1900-1950 era, trends towards urbanization eroded the population greatly.  The area was opened up by a new network of roads that allowed the importation of manufactured goods.  Local businesses suffered from this downturn and closed.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Huron Township had a resurgence in its population.  This was primarily due to the construction of the Bruce Nuclear Power Development.  The population increased and decreased with different phases of the construction.  Today, the population has stabilized at around 3,000 people.  The Township is still tied to its agricultural roots.  In the last couple of years, Huron Township has amalgamated with the Village of Ripley to form the “Corporation of the Township of Huron.”


In 1873, Ripley was put on the map by the Wellington, Grey and Bruce Railway.  Ripley was opened up to commercial trade by the railway line.  The village was incorporated in 1925.

Ripley is located in the very heart of Huron Township at the junction of Bruce County Roads 6 and 7.  The main event event held in Ripley is  the Ripley-Huron Fall Fair.  Ripley has amalgamated on 01 January 1995 with the Township of Huron to form “The Corporation of the Township of Huron.”

Kinloss Township

Kinloss Township was settled in the mid 1800’s.  This was a period of increasing agricultural growth in what was known as the “Queen's Bush.”  Settlers arrived as the area was being surveyed.  The land was ceded to the British by the local Native population in 1836.

Kinloss Township thrived during its first fifty years of existence.  In the 1900-1950 era, the opening of roads and the trends towards urbanization eroded the local agricultural economy.  The population decreased and communities faded into the past.

Kinloss Township's economy remains tied to its agricultural roots today.  The retirement of active farmers is still slowly eroding the number of active farms.  In spite of this, the Township still offers picturesque century old homes and friendly people.  Kinloss Township is still a strong contributor the overall agricultural success of Bruce County.


Lucknow was settled in 1857 by Scottish soldiers who had recently fought in the “Indian Mutiny” in India.  Lucknow was the name of the Indian town where a vicious battle was fought between the British Army and besieging native rebels.  Lucknow’s main street is named after Sir Colin Campbell the leader of the British relief forces.  Lucknow is known as the “Sepoy Town” which refers to the Indian Foot soldiers who fought on the British side in the Relief of Lucknow.

Lucknow sports both summer and winter recreations.  The Lucknow Community Greenway has a 5 km walkway which runs along the banks of three creeks as they meet the Nine Mile River and loops back into town.  Lucknow is also the heart of the surrounding agricultural areas.  The price of grains can be heard daily on the radio quoting Snobelen Farms in Lucknow.


Mildmay is located on Otter Creek where the Elora Road (Hwy. 9) crosses.  The village was settled in the late 1850’s.  It was incorporated as a village in 1863.  The name of the village was Shield’s Corners, named after an innkeeper.  It was later called Mernersmill, after the biggest entrepreneur.  In 1873, the village settled on Mildmay.  The name is said to be from Sir Henry Mildmay, Master of the Jewel Office during the reign of James I and Charles I, or after Sir Henry’s property, Mildmay Park in North London, England.

Mildmay is famous for its ever flowing artesian well located at the north end of the village in Coronation Park.  The water is very cold, even on the hottest days of the summer.  Another famous landmark in village is the Mildmay Cheese Haus.  Travelers can purchase Bruce County's finest cheeses there.

Carrick Township

Carrick Township was incorporated in 1856.  It boasts some of the best and most productive agricultural land in the County of Bruce.  The Village of Mildmay is located in the “Heart of the Township” and in 1998 the Township and the Village amalgamated to form the municipality of the Township of Mildmay-Carrick. The Hamlet of Formosa is also located in the west of the Township and is home to The Northern Algonquin Brewing Company, which is known around the world and has won many International Competitions for its beer.  Also located in Formosa is the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, which is a heritage building.

In the 1860’s the Hamlet of Carlsruhe was the location of the Kuntz Brewery which was also very popular. In the southeast corner of the Township, the famous geological formations known as the Forty Hills of Carrick can be seen. The Township is also bisected by the Elora Road, which was established to allow settlers access to Bruce County.  This area was known as the “Queen's Bush.”


Teeswater was founded in the mid 1850’s.  It was incorporated as a village in 1875.  Teeswater was named after the Teeswater River which runs through the centre of the village.  The village is located in the heartland of Bruce County.  It is the hub of Culross Township.

Teeswater is the home of Canada's continuously operated creamery.  The first butter ever exported from Canada to England was churned in Teeswater three years after the village was incorporated.   A number of Teeswater residents also work in nearby Wingham at the local foundry.  The village is surrounded by the beautiful farmland of Culross Township.

The Teeswater Fair is held in late August.  It is known for its horse shows.  Just outside Teeswater, in Culross Township, is Canada's only manufacturer of highly detailed farm machinery replicas and miniatures, The Teeswater Custom Tractor Company.  Individuals and groups are welcome to tour the factory.

Teeswater amalgamated with the Township of Culross to form the new Township of Teeswater-Culross.

Culross Township

Culross Township was settled in the mid 1800’s.  At that time, the area known as the “Queen's Bush” was being surveyed and settled as fast as the surveys could be completed.  Culross Township became a thriving agricultural area with a number of small industrial centres dependent on the agricultural economy of the area.

In the 1900 to 1950 era, Culross Township suffered the same economic downturn experienced by the rest of the Bruce County agricultural areas.  The trend towards urbanization and the opening of new roads contributed to the decline in the population.

Recently, there has been an upsurge in the economy and population of Bruce County due to the construction, starting in the late 1960’s, of the Bruce Nuclear Power Development.  Culross Township has unfortunately not experienced the same trends as other Bruce County municipalities.  As the farm population continues to age and retire, the rural population of the Township continues to erode. In spite of these trends, Culross Township remains closely ties to its agricultural roots.  There are many century old homes in the Township and small urban centres contained in the Township.  The area is picturesque and draws people to its scenic beauty in both summer and winter.  Culross Township amalgamated with the Village of Teeswater to form the new Township of Teeswater-Culross.  The new municipality is an ideal place for families to live and for businesses to thrive.

Our thanks to the South Bruce Detachment, Ontario Provincial Police for this information

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