John Cleaver and his wife Mary came to Upper Canada in 1805 from the United States to establish a new life, leaving the ruins of the American Revolution behind. In the 1806 land lottery of Nelson Township, John won 200 acres that consisted of parcels along present day Dundas Street, Walker’s Line and No. 1 Sideroad. John and his wife had many children including a daughter named Charlotte who caught the eye of a young Thomas Alton whom she married in 1822 (Turcotte 1989). Charlotte's brother, James Cleaver, established the flouring mill at Lowville and was considered one of its founders.
Thomas Alton came to Nelson Township in 1819 at the young age of 24. He initially rented land, then eventually applied for a Crown Grant in 1830. This allowed him to purchase land on the north side of Middle Road (now the QEW) from his father-in-law, John Cleaver (Turcotte 1989). This area was later known as the Village of Appleby and Thomas Alton, along with the Van Norman and Breckon families, were considered early pioneers. Shortly thereafter, Thomas built a large brick farmhouse at 4059 Dundas Street (now 3215 Settlement Court) where he and his family lived for many years. Thomas and Charlotte had a staggering number of children ─ sixteen in total. Their children would go on to marry locally, into the families of Nelson Township such as the Clines, the Cummings, the Tansleys and the Springers (Turcotte 1989). The inspiration behind the naming of the village has never been elucidated. Considering the sheer number of Alton’s and Alton descendants in residence, Alton Village seems to be a prudent choice.
Thomas and his many children generally chose farming as a vocation. The Altons also expanded into other businesses, thus creating a challenge and helping them increase their wealth. The Alton family were known as very keen and motivated people (Turcotte 1992).
Alton Village had a unique visitor in 1837. During the 1837 Rebellion, local legend states that William Lyon Mackenzie took refuge in the Alton family home for at least one night. As the story goes: the Alton and Cleaver families had to fend off a few Tories at gunpoint who were searching for William Lyon Mackenzie (Liddell 2013). This was one of the many rumoured hiding places used by Mackenzie as he fled from colonial officers – “Crown Farm” on King Road is another.
Most evidence of Alton Village’s existence was demolished for a development of new homes and Highway 407 during the late 20th century. New modern suburban homes occupy the land that John Cleaver acquired many years ago. Developers of the area have kept the name ‘Alton Village’, which serves as a reminder of how the Village came to be. The Alton House (on Settlement Court) serves as a tangible reminder of the Alton family.
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3215 Settlement Court “The Thomas and Charlotte Alton House” - This house was originally built for Thomas Alton and his family at 4059 Dundas Street, later 4083 Thomas Alton Boulevard. It now sits at its present location at 3215 Settlement Court. It has been restored and well preserved, earning heritage designation in 2007