Welcome to Huron County
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See History of Upper Canada - Canada West - Ontario for an outline of the history of Ontario
Huron County History
Also see 1846 Districts and Name Changes Upper Canada - Canada West - Ontario for boundary and name changes for Counties within the present day province of Ontario
Search the online book for your ancestors surnames Exeter, situate on the London & Goderich Road in the township of Stephen and Usborne, 30 miles from London and in the County of Huron, Canada West : a history of Exeter, Ontario Author: Wooden, Joseph L.
Huron County: A County Rich with Historyfrom "The Settlement of Huron County" by James Scott
The first white man to reach what is now Huron County, Ontario, was Etienne Brule, a young French explorer sent out from Quebec by Samuel de Champlain in 1610.
Huron was the French name given to the tribe of Indians living in the upper end of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. The tribe called themselves Ouendats, and the area they occupied Ounedake.
The Huron TractWhat became the Huron Tract was not part of Ounedake. The tribe of Indians living in this region was known as the Attawandarons, or the Neutrals by the French. After the fur wars ended the victorious Iroquois tribes moved into this territory. It was the Mohawk and Chippewa branches of this tribe whom the British eventually purchased the land from in the early 1800's.
Lacking sufficient knowledge about the history of the area, the British decided to keep the original French term Huron as the name of both the lake and the tract of land. This tract of Crown land remained unsettled for many years.
Early SettlementIt was not until the 1820's that a settlement campaign was developed by a group of British investors known as the Canada Company. This company was started by a remarkable man, John Galt, a businessman, author and adventurer, who to this day is considered the founder of Huron County.
When the Canada Company opened its first Canadian office in York during the early part of 1827, it soon had a substantial list of emigrants interested in purchasing land. Nevertheless, the Canada Company soon realized that an extensive advertising program would be needed to encourage more settlers to the area.
There was very little chance of the company attracting migration from either British North America or from the United States. As a result, advertisements were placed in British and other European newspapers promoting the Huron Tract. It was from these advertisements that the majority of people were attracted into coming to what is now Huron County.
The first emigrants came mostly from Germany, Ireland, the British Isles and Holland. This early migration of European settlers explains why there is such a diverse number of nationalities in Huron County today.
County StatusThe County of Huron became an official county in 1841. Its borders extend along the central portion of the eastern shore of Lake Huron for almost sixty miles and its boundaries extend between fifteen and forty miles inland.
There are twenty-six official municipalities in the Huron County Council system, (five towns, five villages, and sixteen townships), as well as a large number of smaller hamlets. Of its total 840,960 acres of land, 828,800 acres are classified by the Canada Land Inventory as "Land Use Capable for Agriculture". Of the 840,960 acres of land, 625,745 acres are improved farmland.
John Galt & The Canada CompanyJohn Galt, the founding member of the Canada Company, had originally envisioned the settlement of the Huron Tract as an agricultural experiment. When the first settlers came to what is now Huron County, most of them did not have any understanding of farning; nevertheless, even before they built their first permanent dwelling, clearing a plot of land was their first priority. The clearing of land was a massive undertaking, especially with the primitive tools of the time. After the settlers had cleared a few acres of land and planted their crops, the next step was the establishment of a permanent dwelling and a barn. These building were first made out of logs which had been cut during the land clearing process; later, after farmers had established themselves, larger brick and frame structures were not uncommon.
By the middle of the 19th century, Huron County was an active agricultural area within Ontario. Agriculture also began to become more mechanized with the introduction of reapers, mowers, horse rakes, threshing machines, fanning mills and finally the steam engine.
Huron County TodayToday, Huron County is the most agriculturally productive County in Ontario and a world leader in numerous areas of agricultural technology and innovation. Many descendants of the original 19th century settlers continue to farm and live in Huron County.
The history of Huron County is not just reflected in its agriculture. Heritage buildings, streetscapes and homes are also a common sight in the County's towns, villages, hamlets and throughout the rural countryside. Many towns and villages have self-guided tours designed for appreciating these heritage buildings.
Military HistoryHuron County also has enjoyed a colourful military history in both the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1837, an American raid on the Huron County shore line led to the capture of the invading vessel by the steamboat Patriot. The Commonwealth Air Training Base at Goderich also played a fundamental role in training fighter and bomber pilots for World War Two. Industrial history is also prevalent in Huron County with the development of salt mining, carriage works, early radio, piano and automobile manufacturing, flour and woollen mills and fur tanning. With the Lake Huron shoreline and the two ports of Goderich and Bayfield, marine history is also a major aspect of Huron County heritage. Numerous Huron County natives have also gone on to achieve great fame and fortune.
Huron County's rich and diverse history is reflected throughout the
County at its many unique museums and historical sights. This Travel Guide
will assist you in discovering our rich heritage and the many other exciting
aspects of Huron County!