The History of Haldimand County
Courtesy of Estelle Pringle, UE
Dunnville, Haldimand Co., On.
The first known inhabitants of Haldimand County,
circa 1600, were an Indian tribe known as the
Neutrals or Attiwandaronk. There were as many as
40 Neutral villages in a territory that ranged
from what is now Dundas, On., through the Niagara
Peninsula, across the Niagara River and into New
York State. One of the largest of these villages is said
to have been built on the Grand River, near Caledonia.
The Indian tribe was known as the Neutrals because
they traded with both the Huron and Iroquois, maintaining
their neutrality even during the battles that were fought
between those two tribes. However, around 1650, the
Iroquois attacked and entirely wiped out the Neutrals
and destroyed Huron villages in the area, as well.
Over the next century, Haldimand County was host to
the transient Chippawas (Mississaugas), French explorers
and Jesuit missionaries. But no real attempt was made
to settle the area.
After the American Revolution the loyal Indians,
the Six Nations, who had lost their lands in the Mohawk
Valley of New York State, petitioned the British
government for land. In 1784 a tract of land, purchased
from the Mississaugas, was granted to the Six Nations.
This land extended six miles on either side of the
Grand River from its source to its mouth on Lake Erie.
When white settlers began to pressure the Indians to
sell some of their prime land along the Grand River,
approximately 350,000 acres of the Crown Grant was
divided into six blocks to be sold.
Four new districts were created by the colonial government,
in 1788. They were Nassau, Hesse, Lunenburg and
Mecklenburg. Nassau stretched from the Trent River to
Long Point, and included what is now Haldimand County.
In 1792, the districts were renamed and counties
and townships created.
Haldimand County was named for Sir Frederick Haldimand,
Governor of Quebec from 1777 to 1789. The county became
part of the Niagara District, and eventually included
Canborough, Dunn, Moulton, North Cayuga, Oneida, Rainham,
Seneca, Sherbrooke, South Cayuga, and Walpole Townships.
Butler’s Rangers, Mennonites, and Germans were its
earliest pioneers. The earliest white settlement was
said to have been established in 1784.
Haldimand County has been part of Nassau District,
Home District, and Niagara District. It was incorporated
on January 1, 1800 but remained part of the Niagara
District until 1850. In 1974 it became known as
the Regional Municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk.
TOP OF PAGE
Names, histories, & biographies of local residents
Ontario Archives, Toronto, On.
Caldonia (Reel 31)
Canfield (North Cayuga Twp.) (Reel 23)
North Cayuga (Grand River) (Reel 41)
Dunnville (Inman Rd.) (Oneida Twp.) (Reel 40)
Mount Healy (Oneida Twp.) (Reel 40)