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The Burlington we know today was built up from the many pioneer communities that were established in Nelson Township during the 18th and 19th centuries. These communities, particularly their farmland, attracted pioneers who were instrumental in developing the area that became Burlington.

In the beginning there was Brants Block: 3,450 acres of land subjected to an early survey conducted for Captain Joseph Brant as payment for his loyalty to the Crown during the Revolutionary War. Over time Brant and the managers of his estate sold off land for settlement. Brant’s Block gave way to two communities on the shore of Lake Ontario. Wellington Square and Port Nelson were busy port locations with wharves that supported the area’s early lumber and wheat industries.

When the early settlers of Nelson Township acquired or received land they established communities along Lake Ontario, inland waterways and roads. In particular, Twelve Mile Creek naturally attracted the settlement that began many communities. Henry Zimmerman established the Village of Zimmerman near the Twelve Mile Creek and used the waterway as a source of power for his sawmill – this was the same for Cumminsville and its founder Titus Cummins as well as for Van Norman of Appleby. The Dakota hamlet also followed this pattern of settlement. Dakota is famously known for the gun powder factory explosion of 1884. Just north of Cumminsville sits William Panton’s Village of Kilbride, also located on the banks of the Twelve Mile Creek.

Nelson (Hannahsville), settled by Caleb Hopkins, and Tansley, named after Joseph Tansley, were located on Dundas Street. Dundas Street was the main transport artery in Upper Canada in the early 19th century. Alton Village, established by Thomas Alton, was also located on Dundas Street, but has since disappeared with the construction of suburban homes. The stage coach ran along Dundas Street from Hamilton to Toronto in 1835, which made resting spots in these communities along the way a necessity. In addition, these communities were located in the heart of Nelson Township’s rich farmland.

The land on Maple Avenue was Burlington’s most fertile areas that was home to many farms with large orchards. Railway stations were established in Aldershot and the Village of Freeman to transport this produce.

Indian Point and The Beach were both critical elements of Burlington’s reputation as a resort community. Indian Point was developed in 1909 as rental cottage facilities that were associated with Brant House Hotel. Burlington residents and visitors alike flocked to the beach for recreational purposes at a time when such leisurely pursuits became part of the societal norm. Cottages on the strip also became popular, but have since been demolished to allow for increased public access to Lake Ontario.

For recreational purposes, the Royal Botanical Gardens, Mount Nemo and Lasalle Park continue to play an important role in Burlington’s leisure life. Paletta Mansion, the last remaining intact estate from Burlington’s 1930s era as a summer resort community now serves a different recreational function as the site of many weddings.

Displaying Entries 1 to 25 of 25

pine.jpg "Pine Hall", Van Norman-Breckon House House built in 1848 for William Van Norman. This house is a large one-and-a-half storey brick house whose design is Classical Revival with Federal influence. The property received heritage designated in 1986 and still stands today as a landmark structure in the old Village of Appleby.
aldershot.jpg Aldershot Aldershot was an early community of Halton County that attracted the first settlers to the area. Its rich soil and proximity to Lake Ontario allowed for bustling wharves along the Aldershot shoreline.
alton.jpg Alton Village In the 1800s, Thomas Alton established Alton Village in Nelson Township from the land he acquired from John Cleaver. What was once a small rural community at the time of settlement, Alton Village, has now been developed into a suburb of the City of Burlington at the northeast corner of the intersection of Walker’s Line and Dundas Street (Highway 5).
Appleby.jpg Appleby Appleby was a Village established by the Van Normans in the early 1800s around the area of the present day Upper Middle Road and Appleby Line. Once a thriving community in Nelson Township, the Village of Appleby disappeared in the 1950s when the Queen Elizabeth Way was widened.
brantblock.jpg Brant's Block Brant’s Block comprised 3,450 acres of land subjected to an early survey conducted for Captain Joseph Brant as payment for his loyalty to the Crown during the Revolutionary War.
babcock.jpg Collinson-Babcock House This house is believed to have been constructed in 1874 following the sale of land by Benjamin Eager to Collinson. The property was used for agriculture and market gardens during the Collison and Babcock family ownerships. During the post-war housing boom, farmlands were subdivided and the Collinson-Babcock House was surrounded by newly constructed homes. It was around this time that the home was reoriented from Maple Avenue to front Richmond Road.
CD.jpg Cumminsville – Dakota Cumminsville was a village established on Cedar Springs Road in 1844 by Titus Cummins. Dakota was a small area with a mill just south of Cumminsivlle above Britannia Road, on Cedar Springs Road, best known for having one of the factories for the Canada Powder Company. These two places will be forever linked not only by their geographical proximity, but by the cataclysmic explosion in 1884 of a gunpowder factory that decimated both communities.
brant1.jpg First Use of Burlington Place Names The term Plains of Burlington was first used on the map of the Upper Road from the Humber, which was part of Simcoe’s military highway, Dundas Street, in 1796. The Plains of Burlington had a military purpose as a flat, open area of engagement for the British Army.
freeman.jpg Freeman Freeman Station was the railway hub of Burlington that serviced the surrounding communities from 1854 to 1988. It was located on Brant Street in the Village of Freeman
indian2.jpg Indian Point Originally established as a summer cottage resort community for the Brant House Hotel, Indian Point is now as a prestigious neighbourhood in the City of Burlington.
kilbride2.jpg Kilbride Kilbride was settled by William Panton and his partner Francis Baker sometime around 1850. Panton named the village after his birthplace of Kilbride, County Wicklow, in Ireland. Kilbride was one of the many small communities that were established along the Twelve Mile Creek which provided power for the mills.
lasalle.jpg LaSalle Park LaSalle Park was originally a property owned by Alex Brown, a founder of Waterdown who built wharves on the property. It was later purchased by the City of Hamilton for use as a park named Wabasso. A bath house – now demolished – and pavilion were built on the property.
maple.jpg Maple Avenue Maple Avenue was known for being one of the finest areas to grow and cultivate fruit in the Burlington area during the 19th century. It is situated within Nelson Township.
mount.jpg Mount Nemo Mount Nemo, formerly known as Table Mountain, is an elevated outlier of the Niagara Escarpment that has functioned as a settlement area and more recently as a part of the Mount Nemo Conservation Area.
NH.jpg Nelson Hannahsville Nelson Hannahsville was a community near the Guelph Line/Dundas Street intersection settled by Caleb Hopkins sometime in the 1850s. The village was named after Caleb Hopkins’ wife, Hannah Green. The 1877 Halton Atlas shows that the name of the village was changed to Nelson.
shore.jpg Shore Acres The property now known as the Paletta Mansion was built in 1930 as part of the Shore Acres Estate laid out by W.D. Flatt. It was built for Edythe Birge MacKay, the daughter of Cyrus Birge, a founding board member of the Canadian Steel Company (later called Stelco and now US Steel). The City of Burlington bought the property in 1990. It now hosts private events as the Paletta Lakefront Park and Mansion.
unsworth.jpg The Albert Unsworth House Albert was the proprietor of a 'fancy goods store' – a store selling gifts and clothing accessories – on King Street in Hamilton. He purchased this property in 1882 which was later owned by his son George. George Unsworth planted vegetables to be sold at local markets. In an attempt to lengthen his growing season, George decided to construct cold frames and germinate the plants prior to the growing season in southern Ontario.
beach1.jpg The Beach The Beach was a community that emerged along the beach strip extending from the north shore of Lake Ontario at Brant's Block to Hamilton. The beach strip separates Burlington Bay (now Hamilton Harbour) from Lake Ontario.
harris.jpg The John and James Harris Homestead The house was constructed in 1840 by the Harris brothers (John and James) on the property of John Harris. Situated to the east of the Villages of Kilbride and Cumminsville, James Harris helped to establish the Presbyterian Church at Kilbride in 1845.
blair.jpg The Ogg-Blair House The house at 2021 Blairholm Avenue was constructed circa 1858 for Nelson Ogg. At that time, the house fronted on Brant Street and comprised a 50 acre fruit farm. In 1898 George Blair, who is notable as the building of many residential homes and in Burlington, purchased the fifty acre property and house from Ogg. It is said that Blair moved his family to the house so that his sons would not have to be raised in the downtown.
rbg.jpg The Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) Located in Burlington on Plains Road West, the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) is a major tourist attraction that contains significant local, regional and international horticulture. The garden is designed for the scientific study of plants.
VT.jpg Village of Tansley Tansley was a small village located on Dundas Street (Highway 5) between Appleby Line and Burloak Drive/Tremaine Road. It was a bustling little village that boasted a grist mill, saw mill, hotel, post office and school.
lowville2.jpg Villages of Lowville and Highville Lowville is so named as it is the lowest point on the road from Guelph to Lake Ontario. The rise of the Village is linked to water power as it is located along Twelve Mile Creek.
ws.jpg Wellington Square Wellington Square is a 338.5 acre parcel of Brant's Block lands purchased by James Gage from the executors to the estate of Joseph Brant. Situated within the southeastern portion of Brant's Block, Wellington Square comprised the early town of Burlington.
zimmerman.jpg Zimmerman A village settled in 1794 by the Zimmerman family on Appleby Line that was named after Henry P. Zimmerman. The Village of Zimmerman catered to the needs of local farmers while the churches and school served as the centre of social life.