Haldimand County History


A Canada GenWeb Project



Sir Frederick Haldimand

Swiss soldier of fortune and British Colonial Governor. He served in various
Continental armies, including that of Frederick the Great. He joined the
British army in 1754 and held several responsible positions in North America,
including that of commander in chief, 1773-1774. In 1778 he became Governor
of Québec, and was successful in securing the province against internal disturbance
and American attack. Before leaving his command late in 1784, he assisted in the
settlement of some 7,000 loyalist refugees from the United States.
Ref: Grolier's Encyclopedia International, Ltd. 1968
Vol. 8, page 269



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The History of Haldimand County

Courtesy of Estelle Pringle, UE
Dunnville Library
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.

  • Grand Heritage, the history of Dunnville, Canborough, Sherbrooke, Dunn, Moulton and South Cayuga edited by Cheryl MacDonald
  • The County of Haldimand by Mrs. C.W. Coulter
  • The Early History of Haldimand County by Russell Harper
  • Place Names of Haldimand-Norfolk by Cheryl MacDonald



Reference: Wm. H. Smith's 1846 Canadian Gazetteer
Upper Province or Canada West
Published for the author by H. & W. Rowsell, Toronto
Courtesy of Elva Sanghera
Burnaby, B.C.

A small village in the township of Cayuga, pleasantly situated on the Grand
River, fifteen miles above Dunnville. The road from Simcoe to the Falls of
Niagara passes through the village. Cayuga contains about seventy inhabitants;
one store, one grocery, three taverns, one blacksmith, two waggon-makers, one
shoemaker, two tailors.

A township in the Niagara District; is bounded on the east by the township
of Canboro; on the north-west by Seneca and Oneida; and on the south-west
by Rainham and Walpole. In Cayuga 14,871 acres are taken up, 3,666 of
which are under cultivation. The Grand River flows through the township, on
the banks of which are some good clearings. The timber on the Grand River, to
within a short distance of the village of Cayuga, is mostly hard wood, much of
which is white oak of a large size; in exporting which a profitable trade is carried
on. Above the village of Cayuga the timber is principally pine, with a small
quantity of hard wood intermixed. About four miles below Cayuga village, is
a bed of white gypsum, situated close to the river. The village of Indiana
is situated on the river, about two miles above Cayuga, and about six miles below
the same village is a small Episcopal church.
Population in 1841, 837.
Ratable property in the township, £13,872.

A township in the Niagara District, is bounded on the east and north by the
Grand River, on the west by the township of Cayuga, and the south by Lake
Erie. In Dunn 6,912 acres are taken up, 1,534 of which are under cultivation.
This township is, as yet but little settled. The settlements of Port Maitland
and Haldimand, opposite Dunnille, are situated in it, on the Grand River.
The banks of the river, in the lower portion of the township, are rather low.
There is one grist mill in Dunn.
Population in 1841, 345.
Ratable property in the township, £6,380.

A village in the township of Moulton, situated on the Grand River, at its
junction with the feeder of the Welland Canal, four miles and three quarters
from Lake Erie. It commenced settling in 1829, and now contains about 400
inhabitants. A steam boat plies here regularly during the season, and a smaller
boat continues the route to Brantford. Considerable quantities of lumber are
shipped here. Dunnville contains an Episcopal church, and a Presbyterian
church is in progress.
Post Office, post three times a week.
Professions and Trades: One physician and surgeon, two grist mills, three
saw mills, one distillery, one tannery, one carding machine and cloth factory,
six stores, four taverns, four groceries, two waggon makers, four blacksmiths,
one saddler, two tinsmiths, four shoemakers, three tailors, two cabinet makers,
one baker, one turner.

A settlement in the township of Dunn, situated on the Grand River about
one quarter of a mile from Dunnville. It contains sixty inhabitants, one
grist mill, two saw mills, two taverns.

A township in the Niagara District, is bounded on the north-east by the
townships of Wainfleet and Gainsborough, on the north-west by Canboro, and
on the south by the Grand River, Sherbrooke, and Lake Erie. In Moulton
8,985 acres are taken up, 1,716 of which are under cultivation. A large swamp
is situated in the south-east corner of the township, and extends into the township
of Wainfleet. The feeder of the Welland Canal is formed through the
south of the township, and enters the Grand River at the village of Dunnville,
which is situated near the south-west corner of the township. There are two
grist mills and two saw mills in the township.
Population in 1841, 628.
Ratable property in the township, £10,915.

A township in the Gore District, is bounded on the north-east by the Grand
River, on the north-west by the townsip of Tuscarora, on the south-west by
Walpole, and on the south-east by Cayuga. In Oneida 3,548 acres are taken
up, 1,734 of which are under cultivation. The plank road from Hamilton to
Port Dover passes through the township, and a portion of the village of Caledonia
is situated near the north corner, on the plank road. Most of the timber
in the township is pine. There is a bed of excellent gypsum in Oneida, close to
the Grand River; it is worked, and a plaster mill is erected close to the bed.
The plaster, when ground, is worth about four dollars per ton at the mill.
Large quantities are exported for agricultural purposes. This township formerly
formed part of the Niagara District; but was separated from it in 1845, and
added to the Gore District. When the last census was taken, there was no
return from Oneida.
Ratable property in the township, £5,716

A township in the Talbot district, is bounded on the north-east by the
township of Cayuga, on the west by Walpole, and on the south by Lake Erie.
In Rainham, 16,724 acres are taken up, 5,354 of which are under cultivation.
This is a small township, containing good land and some well-cleared farms.
Timber-mostly hardwood. It is well watered by numerous small streams
running across it.
Population in 1841, 716
Ratable property in the township, £13,838.

A township in the Gore District, is bounded on the east by the township of
Canboro, on the north-east by Caistor, Binbrook, and Glanford, on the north-west
by Onondaga, on the south-west by the Grand River, and on the south-east
by the township of Cayuga. In Seneca 6,182 acres are taken up, 3,063 of
which are under cultivation. There is a large proportion of good land in the
township, it is mostly rolling, and the timber is principally hardwood, with a
small quantity of pine intermixed. There is abundance of fine large white-oak
within convenient distances of the river. The villages of Caldonia, Seneca,
York, and Indiana are in the township, all situated on the Grand River. There
are four grist and eleven saw mills in the township, and large quantities of sawn
lumber are exported from it.
Population in 1841, 831
Ratable property in the township, £16,316

A flourishing village in the township of Seneca, situated on the Grand River,
one mile below Caledonia. It contains about 140 inhabitants. There is a
Methodist church in the village.
Professions and Trades: One grist mill (four run of stones), one saw mill,
carding machine and cloth factory, planing machine, chair factory, one physician
and surgeon, two stores, three taverns, one turner, one cabinet maker, three
shoemakers, three blacksmiths, one tailor.

A township in the Niagara District, is bounded on the north-east and north
by the township of Moulton, on the west by the Grand River, and on the south
and south-east by Lake Erie. In Sherbrooke 3,447 acres are taken up, 1,474 of
which are under cultivation. This is a very small township, and it is but little
settled; there is a marsh in the north-east of it, on the borders of the Grand River.
Population of Sherbrooke in 1841, 198.
Ratable property in the township, £3,841.

Consists of the county of Norfolk, which comprises the townships of Char-
lotteville, Houghton, Middleton, Townsend, Woodhouse, Windham, and Walsingham,
and for all purposes, except that of representation in the Legislative Assembly,
and that of registration titles, the townships of Rainham and Walpole. The
Talbot District is bounded on the north-east by the Niagara District and the
Gore District; on the north by the Brock District, on the West by the London
District, and on the south by Lake Erie. The district is watered by Big Creek,
and a small portion of Otter Creek, besides numerous smaller stream, many of
which are excellent mill-streams. The land varies in quality, that in the
townships of Walsingham, Houghton, and Middleton is principally timbered with
pine, that in the other townships is hardwood and pine intermixed. Long Point,
which is now an island, is included in the district. Much of the land in the
district is rolling, and Simcoe, the district town, is very handsomely situated.

The Talbot District is settled principally by Canadians, with a few Scotch, Irish,
and English. It improves but very slowly, and between January 1842, and January
1844, only 2,800 acres of land were brought into cultivation.

Besides Simcoe, the district town, there are in the district, the villages of Port
Dover and Port Ryerse in Woodhouse, Normandale, (where is a blast furnace for
smelting the iron (bog) ore found in the neighbourhood), Vittoria and St. Williams in
Charlotteville, Waterford in Townsend, Port Rowan and Port Royal in Walsingham, and
Fredericksburg in Middleton. There are no Crown lands for sale in the Talbot District.
Population in 1841, 9,626, since when it has probably increased one-sixth.
1842--acres cultivated, 54,049, ratable property, £166,003
1843--acres cultivated, 54,895, ratable property, £169,124
1844--acres cultivated, 56,899, ratable property, £185,633

Government and District Officers in the Talbot District:

William Salmon, Judge of District Court
H.V.A. Rapelje, Sheriff
W.M. Wilson, Clerk of Peace
H. Webster, Treasurer
E.P. Ryerse, Inspector of Licenses
J.H. Davis, District Clerk
W.M. Wilson, Clerk of District Court
Rev. W. Clarke, Superintendent of Schools
D. Campbell, Crown Lands Agent
J.W. Powell, Warden

Number of Common Schools in operation in the District:

Townsend 19
Woodhouse 12
Charlotteville 10
Walsingham 8
Houghton 6
Middleton 7
Windham 9
Walpole 6
Rainham 4
Total 81

A township in the Talbot District, is bounded on the east by the township
of Rainham, on the north-east by Cayuga, Oneida, and Tuscarora, on the
west by Townsend and Woodhouse, and on the south by Lake Erie. In Walpole
23,163 acres are taken up, 5,637 of which are under cultivation. The
plank road from Hamilton to Port Dover passes through the north-west of the
township. There are some good farms in the township, and some of the land
is of excellent quality, but a large portion of the timber consists of pine. There
is a small settlement called "Williamville," situated on Lake Erie, on the
town line between Walpole and Rainham; and there are two grist, and five saw
mills in the township. There has as yet been no return of the population in
the township.
Ratable property in the township, £17,041.



"Walpole Township 1867-1967 Centennial History" by Kenneth N. Brueton 1967
LDS film no. 0,982,234
Haldimand History: The Early Years, 1784-1850 by Cheryl MacDonald
Haldimand History: Crime and Punishment, 1850-1950 by Cheryl MacDonald



Tweedsmuir Histories:
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)




© Joan Hapeman Somers 6 Aug 1998
Joe Wilson 2000

Monday, 10-Sep-2018 17:48:57 MDT