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Nelson Hannahsville

MapHannahsville was an attractive place to settle. The location on Dundas Street was encompassed by fertile soil and lush forest.

In 1806, Silas Hopkins was awarded property in the Township of Nelson after winning Lot 3 on the north side of Dundas Street in a land lottery (Turcotte 1989). Silas’ son Caleb also obtained farmland from the lottery which included the lots around the Guelph Line and Dundas Street intersection. As more and more settlers began to build homesteads near the Guelph Line and Dundas Street intersection, Caleb Hopkins decided it would be wise to formally name the area. Hopkins named the area Hannahsville after his wife, Hannah Green (Machan 1997). The name ‘Hannahsville’ only lasted a few years as the 1877 Halton Atlas shows evidence that that name changed to Nelson sometime in the late 1850s. However, there are some registered land plans that retain the name Hannahsville as late as 1870 (Machan 1997).

Nelson HouseAside from being a farmer, Caleb Hopkins was also involved in politics. In 1828 Caleb was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada to represent East Halton until 1846 (Turcotte 1989). After his post ended in 1846, he and his good friend Dr. John Rolph founded the Clear Grits. They were a group formed out of the Reform Party – these are the early roots of today’s Liberal Party (Turcotte 1989).

By 1877, Nelson contained a large public hall, a brick schoolhouse, a drill shed, three churches, one hotel, two sawmills, a general store and a post office – the second post office in Halton County (Turcotte 1989). At one time there were three hotels in this hamlet.

The Nelson area included fertile ground, water ways and abundant forests as illustrated by one early settler, Thomas Hunt, as he recounts in a letter home to England,

“we are in good country for poor folks…we have plenty of good fire and grog…we make our own sugar, our own soup and candles and bake good, light bread…we shall never want for water or timber…we have several adjoining houses…we can raise up a good house in a little while at little expense…it is called the healthiest place in Upper Canada, they that think to work may do well” (Machan 1997:119).

War 1812 GraveOther settlers of the Village of Nelson include: Joseph Birney who fought in the War of 1812; Colonel William Chisolm who established a large mercantile business in the area as well as a farm in 1835 while also serving as the first postmaster; Joseph Ireland who built the famous Ireland House which is considered to be the oldest home in Burlington; and David R. Springer who organized the first agricultural shows in Nelson and helped establish the Provincial Agricultural Association in 1846 (Turcotte 1989). These founding community members helped stabilize the area during its infancy and established a town that would flourish well into the latter half of the 19th century.

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Associated Properties:

2168 Guelph Line “Ireland House at Oakridge Farm” - Joseph Ireland built this house in 1836 just off the present day location of Guelph Line and Upper Middle Road. The design of the house resembles the houses in the North of England near Yorkshire, from where his father, F. Thomas Ireland, emigrated in 1819.

2437 Dundas Street “Nelson United Church & Cemetery” – This church was built in 1859 of local stone. The land was purchased in 1854 from David Springer by the Wesleyan Methodist Church.