Norfolk County History
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Norfolk County History

Norfolk County in 1788/921788
Norfolk County was part of Hesse District, Quebec*

Norfolk County in 17921792
Hesse District was renamed Western District, which was now part of Upper Canada. Norfolk County encompassed the current county (see map on townships page), plus parts of the current counties of Elgin, Middlesex, Oxford, Brant, and Haldimand

*Quebec formerly covered the current area of Ontario and Quebec. In 1791 Quebec was divided into Upper and Lower Canada at the current Ontario-Quebec border

London District 1798 1798
Norfolk County was located in London District

Talbot District 1838 1838
Norfolk County was located in Talbot District (established 1837)

1849 onward
Norfolk County was as it is today (see townships page)

From the Historical Atlas of Haldimand & Norfolk Counties, 1877/79:
"There is no proof that Norfolk was ever settled by Europeans previous to 1785 or 1790. True, there are mysterious plains in some parts of the country, as on the shore near Houghton Centre, where the forest seems to have been cut down long before the present century, and where a large number of fragments of pottery have been picked up of such a kind as to indicate, in the judgement of some persons, that Europeans had made a settlement there... But practically the United Empire Loyalists and British emigrants, who came to America at the close of the struggle which severed the thirteen colonies from the British Empire were the founders of Norfolk.

"After the close of the war [War of 1812] the progress of the County was rapid. All the townships were settled by farmers in the front portions, and by lumberman in the remote portions. About 1820 the courts were removed from Turkey Point to Vittoria, which continued to be the District Town until 1826, when the District Offices were removed to London. Subsequently the County of Norfolk became the Talbot District, which included precisely the same territory as we have now, and Simcoe was made the District Town. The Act of 1849, which abolished Districts, gave the name Norfolk once more to this County, and it still retains it."

Sherri Pettit 1998

NORFOLK HISTORY by R. Robert Mutrie

Norfolk County was popularly known in its earliest pioneering period as "The Long Point Settlement" so named for the prominent finger of land pioneers settled on the mainland shore along Long Point Bay, beginning in 1790. From his arrival in 1792, John Graves Simcoe, Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, recognized the strategic military importance of the protected harbour in the Bay and the commanding bluffs overlooking the Point. He encouraged settlement by favoured officers and men who had supported the Crown during the American Revolution until 1796 when he returned to England. From that time forward, land was made available to anyone who swore allegiance to the King and had the means of developing it.

The northern part of Norfolk County had a different beginning. The entire township of Townsend was granted to Andrew Pierce and Associates to settle, under their agent Paul Averill who succeeded in drawing many to the area from 1793 to 1797, after which the land was opened up to any settler as in the southern townships.

Norfolk having some of the richest soil in Ontario and flat or gently rolling land made it ideal for agricultural pursuits in an age when that was the major industry. Prospective settlers came from far and wide having heard of the advantages of the Long Point Settlement. They came from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and all along the eastern seaboard of the United States as far south as North Carolina. Some came direct from the British Isles. The pioneers ranged widely in ethnic background including long-time colonial British and Dutch descendants, and early to mid-eighteenth century German immigrants. Among the settlers were former Portuguese, Russian and Swiss nationals.

The District Capital for all of south-central Ontario, known as the London District, was placed near Vittoria in 1800 and then the no-longer existing town of Charlotteville nearby in Norfolk and finally returned to Vittoria in 1815. During the War of 1812, Fort Norfolk on the bluffs guarded the hinterland behind. From 1842 to 1858, the focal town of Simcoe served as the administrative centre for the Talbot District. In 1858, the individual counties assumed their own local government and Simcoe continued as the seat for Norfolk County.

Throughout the 1800's and much of the 1900's, agriculture was "king" in Norfolk, developed by dedicated men and women who loved the land and it continues to hold equal importance with a bustling industial base today.

R. Robert Mutrie Editor of The Long Point Settlers Journal
244 Maple Leaf Avenue North
Ridgeway, Ontario Canada
L0S 1N0

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