Welcome to Huron County
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Stories and information on Huron County Townships taken from the book The Settlement of Huron Countyby James Scott, 1916. Ryerson Press, 1966
The name of the township came from Sir John Colborne who was the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada during the key years of the opening of the Huron Tract (i.e. 1829-1835). Sir John Colborne later became Lord Seaton. He was born in 1778 and died in 1863. Colborne Township was fortunate in its early years in having some of the most colourful and most able men who came in the Tract settle within its boundaries. When "Tiger Dunlop" was looking for a place to establish his own homestead he chose a site in Colborne just north of the town of Goderich. The Belgian Baron de Tuyle took up one of his two major holdings on the north side of the Maitland River, again in Colborne Township. Still another group of settlers, most of them of Scottish origin and generally speaking men of some wealth, also settled in Colborne in the mid 1830's. The result was that amongst this small group there was a very lively way of life.
By 1850 the population of Colborne had not yet reached quite 1,000 in spite of the fact it was well supplied with waterpower both by the main branch of the Maitland River and its tributaries and its soil was excellent for agriculture. Colborne was settled by English and Scottish immigrants in about equal proportions. About one-twelfth of the basic population of Colborne was Irish.
The first settler to come to Colborne Township came because the Canada Company tried to interest several Toronto men (1828 or 1829) who were known to be professional settlers and provided a schooner to take them to Goderich to see the Huron Tract for themselves. In this group were John Wilson, Jacob Cromer and Michael Fischer (later spelled Fisher) and his son Valentine. Michael Fisher was one of the Pennsylvannia Dutch settlers who had followed the trail of the Black Walnut. He promptly set out exploring the vicinity and legend says that he went up the Maitland River on a small row boat and followed the tributary up to the present site of Benmiller. This apparently pleased him because he returned to Goderich and purchased 5,465 acres outright at a cost of £2,049 7s. 6d. On his holding he built first log shanty, then a log cabin, and in 1836 a big stone house which still stands.
Only a year later a second settler came to this section of Colborne, Benjamin Miller, from whom the present day Hamlet takes its name (Benmiller). He erected and operated a Tavern on this site which in those days was known as "The Hollow". This business was continued by his son Jonathan, who was noted in history as the largest man in Huron County at 468 pounds, 6 feet 2 inches in height and a chest of 84 inches. He died in 1910.