|Time zone||EST (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|Forward sortation area||N0B 1E0|
|Area code(s)||519 and 226|
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The village of Ayr, Ontario, Canada is a settlement located within the Township of North Dumfries in the Regional Municipality of Waterloo in Southwestern Ontario. Ayr is located south of Kitchener and west of Cambridge.
In 1824, Abel Mudge (son of Elijah Mudge Sr) constructed a sawmill and flour mill at the junction of Cedar Creek and the Nith River (building at 14 Northumberland St., Ayr, Ontario). This was the first of three distinct settlements, Jedburgh in the east (Main St.), Nithvale in the west (Piper St.) and Mudge's Mill in the centre (Stanley/Northumberland Streets) in what is today the Village of Ayr.
Jedburgh began in 1832 when John Hall, a young immigrant from Jedburgh, Scotland, purchased a 75-acre (300,000 m2) parcel of land that included the area now flooded by Jedburgh Dam. By 1850 Hall had developed several industries, including a flour mill, sawmill and distillery with water power provided by the damming of Cedar Creek. At the same time a smaller settlement, Nithvale, was founded to the west of Mudge's Mill where a small sawmill opened along the Nith River, its claim on history being that in 1837 it was a meeting and drilling place for MacKenzie's followers just prior to the Upper Canada Rebellion.
In 1840, following keen rivalry among the three settlements, the name "Ayr" appeared for the first time when Robert Wyllie established a post office. The name was likely due to the large number of former Ayrshire, Scotland immigrants who were drawn to Canada by promises of inexpensive, fertile land, made by the major landholder of the district, William Dickson.
In 1846–47 Daniel Manley's mill was built, William Baker's store was established and John Watson's foundry constructed with Watson's Dam its power reservoir. These three key businesses played large roles in Ayr's early success as did the coming of the Credit Valley Railway in 1879. In 1850 Ayr's first library was established and James Somerville began the first Ayr newspaper in 1854.
The John Watson Manufacturing Company, started in 1848 as the Ayr Machinery Works, quickly gained a reputation as an aggressive and innovative agricultural implements manufacturer. In the early 1880s, the company built an impressive four-storey building that was, at that time, the largest agricultural works in Canada. When the factory was built, Watson's was at the pinnacle of its success, winning awards for its products all around the world. In 1920, a fire destroyed the factory and never truly recovered from this disaster. The present two-storey factory was rebuilt from the remains of the original facility and although they carried on a successful business, it never compared to its former self.
In 1898, an Act of Parliament changed the Farmers’ and Mechanics’ Institute into the Ayr Public Library. There has been a library in Ayr since the 1840s, starting with a small subscription library housed in Joseph Kilgour’s store. In 1856 a Farmers’ and Mechanics’ Institute was established. The Institute library moved to first Mr. Rathbun’s hardware store, then to James Souter’s tailoring shop in 1857, then to the ground floor of the Masonic Lodge in 1881. A tenancy dispute with the Masonic Lodge, plus a need for more space, prompted the Ayr Public Library to ask Andrew Carnegie for a grant to build its own building. After being turned down a couple of times, in 1909 Ayr became the smallest community in Ontario to receive a Carnegie grant. Carnegie offered $5,200 on condition that the library site and annual maintenance grant of $500 would be provided by the village. In 1911, the library moved into the building at 92 Stanley Street where it would remain for the next 94 years.
The Village of Ayr was incorporated in 1884, at which time John Watson was appointed reeve. His daughter, Mary Urie Watson, was the first female dean of the MacDonald institute at what is now the University of Guelph. The student residence Watson Hall now bears her name.
On January 1, 1973, Ayr was amalgamated with the North Dumfries Township, Regional Municipality of Waterloo.
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Major highways in the area include Highway 401. Ayr was originally an agricultural centre and maintains several businesses related to agriculture in the present. The community is rapidly expanding as sub-divisions are added to provide housing for people working in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge.
The town has three elementary schools. Built in 1890, the Ayr Public School was the original site and the town's only school for nearly a century. In the 1990s, St. Brigid Catholic School (whose problems with mold necessitated a partial demolition), and Cedar Creek Public School have been added to service the town's growing population. The town does not have a secondary school, so students attend Southwood Secondary School or Monsignor Doyle Catholic Secondary School in Cambridge. Despite its rapid recent growth, there is still no bus service in Ayr to/from the larger cities.
Community events include the Fresh Ayr Festival held on the third Saturday of June.
The newest major addition to the city of Ayr is the North Dumfries Community Centre; major construction was completed in 2011.
TV and movies
- Sketches of Our Town, a half-hour Canadian documentary series from the mid 80s and early 90s, featured Ayr in one of their episodes.
- The 2003 movie Cold Creek Manor, starring Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone, Stephen Dorff and Juliette Lewis, was filmed in Ayr.
- Blood & Guts, a 1978 Paul Lynch film, had scenes shot in the Queen's Tavern. Lynch also used the town for The Hard Part Begins five years previous.
- Portions of the film How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days were filmed in downtown Ayr.
- Ayr's lawn bowling club that is an active member of District 7 of the Ontario Lawn Bowling Association.
- Ayr is home to the Ayr Centennials, a junior hockey team that plays in the Southern Ontario Junior Hockey League as well as the Ayr Ice Cats,a minor ringette organization whose players range for age 4 to age 18. All teams play in the Southern Region Ringette League.
- Ayr Vics Fastball Club, an intermediate men's fastball club.
- The Ayr Rockets, girls hockey team has been recently brought back.