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Village of Tansley

Post officeThe village known as Tansley was first known as St. Anne. This caused confusion because there was already a Village of St. Ann’s near St. Catharines. The confusion often resulted in mail reaching the wrong destination which frustrated residents of both communities. To end the confusion, people would send mail intended for St. Anne of Nelson Township to the postmaster there, Joseph Tansley. The Tansley family came to the area in the 1820s from Northamptonshire, England. The patriarch of the family, Joseph Tansley, had 18 children from two marriages. By the 1880s, the Village of St. Anne of Nelson Township adopted the postmaster’s surname. Although he only served as postmaster for a year, the Tansley name stuck (Turcotte 1989).

Joseph Tansley and Sarah Ann TansleyBefore the name change to Tansley, the Village of St. Anne was home to the first licensed medical doctor in Halton County. Dr. Nathaniel Bell was the resident doctor of St. Anne who served the residents of the area, making rural house calls. Dr. Bell also served as assistant surgeon during War of 1812. Folklore has recorded that he was once captured by the Americans and was shot in the leg while trying to escape (Turcotte 1989). At the end of the War, Dr. Bell acquired 200 acres of land near St. Anne on Dundas Street near Appleby Line where he built a house that would eventually become the Tansley Post Office (the building survived until 1947). With his second wife, Mary Ann O’Reilly, he had five children. One of his sons, Delos Cline Bell, was a renowned portrait artist whose works are included in the directory “Early Painters and Engravers in Canada” by Russell Harper (Turcotte 1989:93). Some of Delos Bell’s art included family portraits and paintings of Sir John A. Macdonald which were showcased multiple times at the Royal Ontario Museum.

mapThe Village of Tansley vanished in the 1960s due to the lack of prosperity of its services, particularly the rail station, which had burnt down in the 1940s, and due to the commercial development of land to the south of the Village. The last remnant of the Village of Tansley was the local cemetery. The interments were relocated to Greenwood Cemetery in Burlington in 1978 in order to accommodate the widening of Dundas Street (Martindale Planning Services 2011).

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