Local Communities

Galt

The area that would one day become the City of Galt was originally sold to the Honourable William Dickson from the Six Nations in 1816. Mr. Dickson’s hope was to attract fellow Scottish settlers to the area, and with Absalom Shade, began the settlement of Shade’s Mills.

In 1825, when the settlement built its own post office, Dickson decided to rename the settlement Galt in honour of John Galt, a Scottish novelist and the Commissioner of the Canada Company.

Galt

The area that would one day become the City of Galt was originally sold to the Honourable William Dickson from the Six Nations in 1816. Mr. Dickson’s hope was to attract fellow Scottish settlers to the area, and with Absalom Shade, began the settlement of Shade’s Mills.

In 1825, when the settlement built its own post office, Dickson decided to rename the settlement Galt in honour of John Galt, a Scottish novelist and the Commissioner of the Canada Company

Hespeler Village

The first settlers in the area that would become known as Hespeler were Mennonites from Pennsylvania, who started arriving in nearby areas in the early 1800’s.

Jacob Hespeler arrived in the area in 1845, and bought 145 acres along the Speed River. The Village of Hespeler was incorporated in 1859 as a result of Jacob’s ambition and the arrival of the Great Western Railway to the area. In 1901, the Village of Hespeler was incorporated into the Town of Hespeler.

Hespeler Village

The first settlers in the area that would become known as Hespeler were Mennonites from Pennsylvania, who started arriving in nearby areas in the early 1800’s.

Jacob Hespeler arrived in the area in 1845, and bought 145 acres along the Speed River. The Village of Hespeler was incorporated in 1859 as a result of Jacob’s ambition and the arrival of the Great Western Railway to the area. In 1901, the Village of Hespeler was incorporated into the Town of Hespeler.

Preston

Settlement in the Preston area began in the early 1800s. Like Hespeler and Blair, the area’s first settlers were German-speaking Mennonites from Pennsylvania. One of the early settlers was John Erb in 1805. He built a sawmill in 1806 and a gristmill in 1807. The gristmill became the Dover Flour Mill, which is considered the oldest continuously operating business in Waterloo Region.

Mr. Erb’s mills were known locally as Cambridge Mills. It wasn’t until after his death, though, that a town started to develop. During his lifetime, Erb refused to sell any of his 7500 acres for commercial development, but after his death in 1832 his lands south of the Speed River were surveyed, divided into lots, and sold.

Preston

Settlement in the Preston area began in the early 1800s. Like Hespeler and Blair, the area’s first settlers were German-speaking Mennonites from Pennsylvania. One of the early settlers was John Erb in 1805. He built a sawmill in 1806 and a gristmill in 1807. The gristmill became the Dover Flour Mill, which is considered the oldest continuously operating business in Waterloo Region.

Mr. Erb’s mills were known locally as Cambridge Mills. It wasn’t until after his death, though, that a town started to develop. During his lifetime, Erb refused to sell any of his 7500 acres for commercial development, but after his death in 1832 his lands south of the Speed River were surveyed, divided into lots, and sold.

Ayr

The village of Ayr actually began as 3 separate communities. In 1824, Abel Mudge built a sawmill where Cedar Creek and the Nith River intersect, and the community of Mudge’s Mill was born. Next, John Hall built a flour mill and distillery East of Mudge’s Mill and named his settlement Jedburgh. To the West of Mudge’s Mill, another sawmill was built on the Nith River, and the settlement became known as Nithvale.

The 3 settlements began to grow in 1832 as immigrants from the Scottish Lowlands were drawn here by William Dickson and his promises of inexpensive farmland. Around this time, Dickson was also busily establishing the town of Galt with his fellow Scottish Lowlanders.

Ayr

The village of Ayr actually began as 3 separate communities. In 1824, Abel Mudge built a sawmill where Cedar Creek and the Nith River intersect, and the community of Mudge’s Mill was born. Next, John Hall built a flour mill and distillery East of Mudge’s Mill and named his settlement Jedburgh. To the West of Mudge’s Mill, another sawmill was built on the Nith River, and the settlement became known as Nithvale.

The 3 settlements began to grow in 1832 as immigrants from the Scottish Lowlands were drawn here by William Dickson and his promises of inexpensive farmland. Around this time, Dickson was also busily establishing the town of Galt with his fellow Scottish Lowlanders.

Blair

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.

Blair

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.

Puslinch

Puslinch Township is made up of 13 villages. The area was incorporated as a Township on January 1, 1850. It was named after the home of Elizabeth Yonge, the wife of Sir John Colborne. Colborne was the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada from 1828 to 1835. Over time, Puslinch has also been known by other names such as Puselynch, Posselinch, and Puzzlewitch.

By the early 1830s, settlers began arriving in the area and forming the different communities that would eventually make up Puslinch Township. Many of the groups came from Scotland and named their communities after their hometowns in the old country. Other communities were named for some of the first families in the area or the first prominent businessmen of the time.

Branchton

The community of Branchton formed in the Township of North Dumfries. The story of how North Dumfries was founded is very similar to that of the Town of Galt. In 1816 William Dickson, an immigrant from Dumfries, Scotland, bought a tract of land with dreams of attracting fellow Scottish countrymen to settle in Canada. Originally known as Dumfries Township, the area was split between the counties of Waterloo and Brant. North Dumfries is the half that ended up as part of Waterloo County, while South Dumfries went to Brant County.

Today, Branchton remains a quiet little rural community just minutes from Cambridge and the conveniences of modern city living.

Puslinch

Puslinch Township is made up of 13 villages. The area was incorporated as a Township on January 1, 1850. It was named after the home of Elizabeth Yonge, the wife of Sir John Colborne. Colborne was the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada from 1828 to 1835. Over time, Puslinch has also been known by other names such as Puselynch, Posselinch, and Puzzlewitch.

By the early 1830s, settlers began arriving in the area and forming the different communities that would eventually make up Puslinch Township. Many of the groups came from Scotland and named their communities after their hometowns in the old country. Other communities were named for some of the first families in the area or the first prominent businessmen of the time.

Branchton

The community of Branchton formed in the Township of North Dumfries. The story of how North Dumfries was founded is very similar to that of the Town of Galt. In 1816 William Dickson, an immigrant from Dumfries, Scotland, bought a tract of land with dreams of attracting fellow Scottish countrymen to settle in Canada. Originally known as Dumfries Township, the area was split between the counties of Waterloo and Brant. North Dumfries is the half that ended up as part of Waterloo County, while South Dumfries went to Brant County.

Today, Branchton remains a quiet little rural community just minutes from Cambridge and the conveniences of modern city living.

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