History of the County of Brant, Ontario, Canada


This volume deals more with events than with persons, and individuals have only been mentioned in so far as they have been identified with the early development period, or have held positions of more or less public prominence.

The plan pursued in some other such productions of compiling an illustrated biographical record of subscribers, has not in any sense been followed in this instance and the selection of the material has rested entirely with the author.

As far as Brantford is concerned, its growth, while never of the boom order, has always been steady. The progress which has been achieved must be mainly attributed to the fortuitous circumstance that from the earliest days the municipality has always contained residents possessed of enterprise and vision. The inauguration of the Grand River Navigation Co., was one of the first manifestations in this regard, followed by the reaching after railways, and still later by the attracting of industries. When there is added to these things the fact that Brantfordites have always had supreme confidence in the future of the community, and have ever most heartily co-operated in anything tending to this end, the explanation is readily found as to why the little settlement located on Indian land in 1830, should to-day be a thriving city of well over 30,000 people, the fourth industrial city of all Canada in the matter of manufactured exports, the hub of many railroad and radial lines, a place of well kept homes, with not the slightest sign of any slum district within its entire borders, and possessed of mimicipally owned waterworks, a municipally owned street railway, and a municipally owned Hydro Electric System, while electric power and light are supplied from Niagara and DeCew Falls and natural gas is also available.

The frame structures of the earlier days have given place to miles upon miles of fine residential streets — mainly working men's homes — and to the splendid class of men engaged in the local industries and the absence of trade disputes, must also be attributed much of what we have become. As for the future, it is full of a promise commensurate with the past and nothing more than this need be said.

Of the County it may also be claimed that there are few agricultural areas anywhere which can surpass the fine farms and the sterling qualities of their occupants.

From the first arrival of Thayendanegea and his warriors of the Six Nations, to the successful completion of one of the greatest of modem inventions — the telephone— Brantford and Branty County possess much material of historic interest, which it has been the endeavor of this volume to preserve.

In the matter of the life of Brant, the principal authority is the two volume history with reference to that Chief published by Stone in 1838, but many other sources of information have also been used in the compilation of the chapter devoted to that xiotable man.

Thanks are due and hereby tendered to McClelland & Stewart, Publishers, Toronto, for permission to quote from "The Pioneers of the Cross in Canada," by Dean Harris, and from the "Reminiscences, Political and Personal," of Sir John Willison; to the Publishers' Association, Toronto, for use of quotation from "Canada and Its Provinces;" to Judge Ermatinger of St. Thomas, for permission to use an extract from "The Talbot Regime," with reference to the Brant County uprising led by Dr. Duncombe; and to Major R. C. Muir of Bur ford, author of that excellent work, "The Early Political and Military History of Burford."


Table of Contents


I. The Attiwandaron, or "Neutral" Indians, who are first mentioned as occupying the region now known as Brant County- Chief village located where Brantford now stands — Habits and Customs; of the Tribe 15

II. Brant, the Indian Chief, after whom City and County are named — Splendid services rendered by him and Six Nations Indians to British cause— Visit to Mohawk Village, formerly situated -Bear Mohawk Church — Haldimand Deed giving Six Nations six miles of land on each side of the Grand River 21

III. The Brant Monument and Unveiling Ceremonies— Mohawk Church, the Oldest Protestant Edifice in Upper Canada- Brant's Tomb 53


IV. Early Beginnings of Brantford —Some of First Settlers —Surrender of Town Site by Six Nations Indians — Burwell's Map and Original Purchasers of Lots 69

V. Coming of the Whites — Turbulent Times when Place was a Frontier Village — Oldest Native Born Brantfordite Tells of Conditions in 1845 — Incorporation as Town and First Assessment Roll 97

VI. Brantford in 1850 — Dr. Kelly's Reminiscences of 1855 — Brantford in 1870 — Incorporation as City, Mayors and Aldermen — The Market Square — Market Fees —Brant's Ford and Bridges 118

VII. The Press — Medical Profession — Bench and Bar 140

VIII. Brantford's Fire Fighters — Great Fire of 1860 — The Story of the Hospitals — Hostelries and Taverns — Amusement Places and Coming of the Movies — Parks 155

IX. Trade and Transportation Highways — Stage Coaches — Grand River Navigation Company — Passenger and Freight Boats ran from Brantford to Buffalo — Steam Railways — Brantford Street Railway 177

X. Visits of Members of the Royal Family and Executive Heads — Three Direct heirs to the Throne Guests of Brantford — Earl Dufferin Makes the Longest Stay — Opening of Provincial Exhibition and Dedication of Lorne Bridge 194

XI. Coming of Electric Power — First Development at Canal Locks — Western Counties Company — The Hydro System — Brantford and Hamilton and Lake Erie and Northern lines — Story of the Grand River — Brantford Waterworks 213

XII. Educational — Brantford Public Schools — The First Grammar School — Collegiate Institute — Industrial Classes — School for the Blind — Young Ladles' College — Free Library 227

XIII. Crimean Celebration — Fenian Raid, — Regular Troops Located Here — Post Office — Customs and Inland Revenue — Brantford Police Department — Gas Works 240


XIV. Pioneer Life in the County and Homes of the Earliest Settlers — Clearing the Land — Family Bible Often the one Source of Instruction — Means of Cooking — No Saturday Bargains in Clothes 250

XV. Brant County Reminiscences by an Old Time Resident — Some of the People and Incidents of Early Days — Visit of au Observing Scotch Advocate in 1831 — Prices of Live Stock, Farm Labor, Implements, etc. — The Early Hotels 262

XVI. Commencement of Brant County Settlement — Once United with two Other Counties — Attainment of Individual Existence — Proceedings of First Meeting of Separate Council — Coat of Arms — List of Wardens and County Councillors 273

XVII. The Court House and Deed of the Square — Sheriffs and other Officials of Brant County — Soil and General Agriculture — Development of Education in the County — Mohawk Institute — Laycock Home — Brant Sanitarium 285

XVIII. Incidents of the War of 1812-14 — The Engagement at Malcolm's Mills — Some Brant County Pensioners — Rebellion of 1837 — Story of Dr. Duncombe's Leadership of the Uprising in this Section and Details of his Thrilling Escape 300

XIX. The Invention of the Telephone — Graham Bell the Son of a Distinguished Father — Coming of the Family to Tutela Heights — Early Experiments — Inception here of Great Discovery is Fully Established — Distinguished Inventor Takes Part in Memorial Unveiling 308

XX. Early Incidents of the Townships — Burford Very Nearly Became the Home of a Peculiar Sect — First Settlers for the Most Part Consisted of Sturdy and Capable Men 324

XXI. Political History of the Two Brants — Names of the Men who Have Occupied Seats in the Dominion House and Provincial Legislature — One Premier, a Speaker of the Senate and other Ministers 361


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The first residents of this section of the country of whom there is any authentic record, consisted of a tribe of Indians who called them- selves the Attiwandarons. They were not confined to the small area of this County by any means, for as a matter of course there were no delimitations in those early days, and their hunting grounds ranged from the Genesee Falls to Sarnia, and South of a line drawn from Toronto to Goderich.

After the first settlement of Europeans in Canada made by the French navigator, Jacques Cartier, in 1535 and the naming of the territory as "New France," there came other French expeditions, that of Samuel De Champlain in 1615, having in his entourage friars of the Recollets — one of the three branches of which the Franciscan Brotherhood consisted. Their object was that of missionary effort among the Indians. One of the first areas of their operations was among the populous Huron tribes of what is now called Simcoe County. From their frontier village ex- tended a maze of forest to the Niagara River and beyond, and the region was regarded as more or less of a desolate nature. The occupants of this vast territory were the Attiwandarons, afterwards named the "Neutrals" by the French because they remained neutral in the fierce and continuous warfare between the Six Nations, then residing in what is now New York State; and the Hurons, residing along the shores of Georgian Bay and about what is now Barrie.