Blair was originally settled by German-speaking Mennonites from Pennsylvania, who started arriving in 1800. As they worked to clear lands, set up their homesteads, and build the beginnings of the village, they learned that Richard Beasley, who had sold them their lands, was in deep financial trouble. This posed a problem for the Mennonites because it put their ownership of their land in jeopardy of being disputed by Beasley’s creditors. They formed a land development company called the German Company. In 1803, the German Company bought an additional 60,000 acres of land from Beasley, which was used to pay off his creditors. By doing so, the Mennonites resolved any potential disputes over land ownership.
Throughout its early history the village had a number of names. One of the earliest unofficial names was Durham, or Durhamville, because of the Durham Flour Mill built in the early 1830s. In the early 1850s it was known as Lamb’s Bridge, because John Lamb’s tavern and store was located at the end of the bridge that crossed the Grand River. Sometime around 1835, the area was known as Shinglebridge, named for a covered bridge that had shingles on it’s roof. Later, the village was known as Carlisle, named for the Carlisle Mill (which was also known as the Bowman Mill).
Finally, when the village’s new post office opened in 1858, the village needed a new name because there was already another post office in Ontario called Carlisle. This is when the Village of Blair was officially named after Adam Johnston Fergusson-Blair, who was a colonel in the local militia and the first judge of Wellington District.
On January 1, 1973, the Village of Blair joined with Galt, Hespeler, and Preston to form the new City of Cambridge. However, to this day, Blair still maintains much of it’s original charm, and feels like a separate little village rather than part of a city. Some of the region’s oldest homes are here, and Blair is Cambridge’s largest heritage conservation district.