On January 1, 2001 the new city of Hamilton was formed from the amalgamation of the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth and its six municipalities: Hamilton, Ancaster, Dundas, Flamborough, Glanbrook, and Stoney Creek. Before amalgamation, the "old" City of Hamilton had 331,121 Hamiltonians divided into 100 neighbourhoods. The new amalgamated city has 490,268 people in over 200 neighbourhoods.
Waterdown was created from that part of East Flamborough Township on the edge of the Niagara Escarpment, just east of the junction of King's Highways Nos. 5 and 6. That intersection is known as Clappison's Corners, but continuous residential and commercial buildings between the two communities make it difficult to see any difference.
Community institutions include:
- Waterdown District High School
- Allan A. Greenleaf Public School
- Flamborough Review (merged with the Flamborough Post)
- Flamborough Family YMCA
- 3rd Waterdown Scouting
- Village Theatre Waterdown
- The Waterdown East Flamborough Heritage Society
In 1974, it was amalgamated with East Flamborough, West Flamborough and Beverly townships to form the Town of Flamborough in the newly minted Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth. In 2001, Hamilton-Wentworth and all its former municipal federation members were abolished and replaced by an amalgamated City of Hamilton.
Waterdown is expanding greatly, with the recent addition of a YMCA and several commercial establishments. Because of the approval of new homes in Waterdown – at least 6,500 more houses in the near future – there are ongoing discussions regarding the planned $50 million 'Waterdown By-Pass', which would allow for easier access across the city. Waterdown population growth was approximately 28.9% over the years 1996 and 2001.
Waterdown District High School (WDHS) has faced an enrollment crisis and has recently voted to expand its facilities.
- 1 History of Waterdown
- 1.1 Long First Nations' history in the region
- 1.2 Robert de la Salle explores Flamborough
- 1.3 British Conquest of 1760 and the American Revolution
- 1.4 Alexander Brown
- 1.5 Ebenezer Griffin - the founder of Waterdown
- 1.6 A child of the Industrial Revolution
- 1.7 2001 forced amalgamation
- 2 Natural attractions
- 3 Other attractions
- 4 Famous residents
- 5 References
- 6 External links
History of Waterdown
Long First Nations' history in the region
Perched atop the escarpment, the area that became Waterdown has been inhabited for centuries. Professor John Triggs of Wilfrid Laurier University found evidence of Algonquin-speaking Aboriginals from as far back as 7,500 BCE. One of the earliest known groups to inhabit the area was the Neutral First Nation (a name coined by Samuel Champlain because they did not take sides in the conflicts between the Huron and Iroquois Confederacy). By the early 1600s, the powerful chief named Souharissen united the Neutral First Nations for a short 37 years. Diseases introduced by French explorers and missionaries devastated Souharissen's realm, allowing it to be consumed by the violent Huron-Iroquois War of 1650. The area was virtually empty by 1653.
Since it was now empty the Anishinabe People moved in to thinly settle the region.
Robert de la Salle explores Flamborough
1669 saw French explorer Robert de la Salle follow Spencer Creek (from Lake Ontario) up toward present-day Westover and the native settlement of Tinawatawa. It was here that la Salle met up with another French explorer, M. Louis Joilet. Some historians think this meeting happened along the shores of Lake Medad (northeast of present-day Waterdown, beside Hidden Lake Golf Club).
British Conquest of 1760 and the American Revolution
After the fall of New France the region changed dramatically. The Anishinabe forged an alliance with the British Crown that was reaffirmed by King George III's Royal Proclamation of 1763. Politically, the region became part of the Province of Quebec that was created by the British.
The area remained largely unaffected until the American Revolution unleashed a flood of Loyalists fleeing the American republic. Access was largely restricted to water, so the first settlements were along the coast of Lake Ontario. To facilitate the English-speaking settlers, the Province of Quebec was broken into Upper and Lower Canada with Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe as the first representative of the Crown for Upper Canada. It was John Graves Simcoe that was walking along the beach strip of Hamilton that looked up at the escarpment and named its northern arm around Burlington Bay "Flamborough" because it reminded him of Flamborough Head in Yorkshire, England.
The Flamborough area was ceded to the Crown by treaty with the Anishinabeg on May 22, 1784. The frontline of the new township was laid out by John Collins in 1790 with further surveys conducted through to 1797. Originally meant to be the Township of Flamborough, it was broken into the separate entities of East Flamborough and West Flamborough in 1798. Today Waterdown is the largest settlement in the former township of East Flamborough.
One of the first land grants in the area was to Lt. Alexander MacDonell of Butler's Rangers. MacDonell never visited the area, but ended up selling 800 acres to Alexander Brown of the North West Fur Company in 1802. Brown built a log cabin and sawmill at the top of the Great Falls in present-day Smokey Hollow in 1805, making him the first European settler in the region. Alexander Brown married Merren Grierson and was a key figure in the community until his death in 1852. Eventually moving down Grindstone Creek to the site of present-day LaSalle Park, Brown built a wharf (called "Brown's Wharf" or "Port Flamboro") to export the many things being created by the mills that quickly sprung up in the Waterdow-area. It was Alexander Brown that built the first school of the village (on the site of the present-day American House) in 1815, employing Mary Hopkins as its first teacher.
Waterdown's fire department is station 24 of the hamilton fire department.
The Tombstones of Alexander Brown and Merren Grierson
Reprinted from Heritage Papers no. 54 & 55 of The Waterdown-East Flamborough Heritage Society:
In 1978 the former East Flamborough Township Hall on Mill Street North underwent extensive renovations. During this work to the interior, an elevator was installed to enable wheelchairs and senior citizens to visit the second floor. Ever since the installation the elevator has taken unexplained trips on its own. In the beginning, the library staff thought there was something wrong, so the elevator company who had been responsible for the installation was requested to examine the machinery. But both the manufacturers and the inspectors reported that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the wiring or mechanics of the elevator . . .
The two white marble tombstones [mounted next to the elevator] commemorate Alexander Brown and his wife Merren Grierson. The actual wording on the monument to Merren Grierson reveals an error that may explain why these stones are not in the Union Cemetery of Waterdown. The spelling of her Christian name is given as Merion rather than Merren.
The two library monuments, almost certainly the first stones to be engraved, were "discovered" on Sunday, May 21, 1978, by Mr. & Mrs. William R. Donkin while out for an evening stroll. The couple noticed the headstones on a Nelson Street property that was being prepared for the construction of four new homes. Originally this property had been the home of John Burkholder, caretaker of Waterdown Union Cemetery. The lettering on in inscriptions was still legible, probably because the stones had been laid face down to form a sidewalk to the outhouse on the Burkholder property. How the stones arrived on the Nelson Street property may never be known, possibly Mr. Burkholder rescued them when they were replaced by the present monument to the Brown family. On the following day the Donkins happened to meet Mrs. Ellene Kennedy on Main Street and told her about their discovery. Fascinated by this news, Mrs. Kennedy went to the Flamborough Review Office and asked John Bosveld, the Editor and Publisher, if his two sons could collect the two old tombstones in their van and take them to the Municipal Offices for safekeeping.
The tombstones stayed at the Municipal Offices for several months. During this time, arrangements were made by the Waterdown Centennial Committee and The Waterdown-East Flamborough Society . . . to have them placed on an interior wall of the Former East Flamborough Township Hall . . .''
People believe it is the ghost of Merren Grierson that haunts the library - brought there by the tombstone that displays her mispelt name - and countless village residents have stories of strange elevator rides and other happenings in the library.
Ebenezer Griffin - the founder of Waterdown
It was the arrival of entrepreneur Ebenezer Culver Griffin in 1823, purchasing over half of Alexander Brown's property, that marked the true beginning of the Village of Waterdown. It was Griffin that had his property surveyed into village lots in 1830.
The name "Waterdown"
A local story credits Ebenezer Griffin with giving Waterdown its name. A prohibitionist, Griffin did not approve of the vast quantities of alcohol being consumed during the Victorian Age, including the whiskey used to christened new mills. During the christening of one of Griffin's mills the carpenter called out for its name and someone in the crowd called out "Hey Ebenezer, throw that water down." The carpenter heard the name "Waterdown" and it was given to the mill and soon adopted by the emerging village. It is important to note that Alexander Brown did not share Griffin's displeasure of alcohol.
A child of the Industrial Revolution
Waterdown was born out of the Industrial Revolution. Thanks to the plan drawn up by Ebenezer Griffin, settlers and industrialists rooted themselves in village life. Mills grew along the banks of Grindstone Creek (especially in the area known as Smokey Hollow - given this name because of all the smog caused by the many complexes) as individuals like William P. Howland arrived to make their fortune. By 1879 the settlement was severed from the Township of East Flamborough and incorporated as a Village in its own right with quarrier Charles Sealey as its first reeve. Waterdown remained its own municipality until it was absorbed into the Township of Flamborough in 1974.
2001 forced amalgamation
Months before Waterdown's amalgamation into Hamilton, the residents of the town were heavily contesting Premier Mike Harris' push to include Waterdown into Hamilton. Due to Waterdown's location as a sandwich town, resting between Burlington and Hamilton, residents argued that Hamilton would not extend the services the city residents get out to Waterdown, such as bus routes. Along with this, Burlington had expressed some interest in amalgamating the town into its city – this idea was favoured by the Waterdown residents due to a collection of issues:
- Burlington's geographic location is closer to Waterdown than Hamilton, and parts of Burlington (Aldershot + Kerncliff Park) wrap around the south and east ends of the town.
- Burlington promised bus service to Waterdown (two of the bus routes reached the eastern edge of Waterdown).
However, despite the residents' attempts to sway the Conservative Ontario government otherwise, Waterdown was amalgamated into Hamilton. This prompted the elected MPP at the time, Conservative Toni Skarica, to resign from his position – which shocked many, mostly because he ran (and won) on the platform of keeping the town unamalgamated, and vowed to resign if the Conservatives amalgamated with Hamilton. He gained a brief local celebrity status during that time because of his surprising honesty. As of 2006, Toni is employed as an Assistant Crown Attorney serving Hamilton.
Waterdown, and its associated Great Falls, (also called Grindstone Falls, so named for the creek that feeds it, or Smokey Hollow Falls, so named for the smoke rising from the hollow from the mills, or Barnes' Falls, named after the Barnes family who owned the property until 1978), are located on the local portion of the Bruce Trail System in Ontario. Many national and regionally rare flora species grow in the natural areas of Waterdown.
The Smokey Hollow falls originally powered a sawmill and gristmill when the town was founded, and later a number of other small mills, and as a result of demand on the limited water supply, time shared the water. The last operating saw mill (Slater's Lumber Mill) continued to produce lumber well into the 1970s. It was located along the Grindstone Creek behind the Knox Presbyterian Church at the corner of Mill Street North and Church Street. During the 1950s and part of the 1960s the mill used horses and heavy tackle to haul the logs to the cutting area. Today, only remote foundation ruins of the mills remain, although a lookout over the falls and a signboard detailing the history of the area is in place.
Furthermore, Waterdown also has many wetland trails in the eastern end of town which are well marked and have informational signage.
Tourists may come to Waterdown in October and November to visit the Rotary Haunted House which has been in operation for 16 years (as of 2008). Until 2006 this haunted house was operated by the Rotary Club of Waterdown, and is now operated by the Rotary Club of Hamilton.
Also of interest are several historical buildings which remain from the founding of the town, these include the American House, the library, the Rotary (originally the town hall), and several private residences.
Waterdown is also home to local community institutions such as Pickwick Books, Red Sky Design, Waterdown Cycle and the Waterdown Legion.
- Sir William P. Howland, (1811-1907), Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario (1868-1873), Father of Confederation, Industrialist. Sir William Pearce Howland was born at Paulings in New York State of the United States of America on May 29, 1811, the second son of Johnathan Howland and Lydia Pearce. He was educated at the Kinderhook Academy; and in 1830 he came to Upper Canada. He first settled at Cookstown, near York (Toronto), where he went into business with his brother. In 1840 he purchased the Lambton mills in York County; and shortly afterwards he established a wholesale grocery business in Toronto. Though he was sympathetic to the Reform movement, he refused to implicate himself with the Rebellion of 1837. In 1841 Howland became a naturalized Canadian. In 1857 he was elected as a Reformer to represent West York in the Legislative Assembly of Canada; and he continued to represent the constituency, first in the Assembly, and then in the House of Commons until 1868. From 1862 to 1863 he was Minister of Finance in the S. Macdonald-Sicotte Government and in 1863/64 he was Receiver-General in the S. Macdonald-Dorion Government. In November 1864, he entered the Great Coalition with the portfolio of Postmaster-General. When George Brown retired from the cabinet in 1865, Howland, with William McDougall declined to follow him. In 1866 Howland's porfolio was changed to finance. In 1867 he was appointed Minister of Inland Revenue in the first cabinet of the Dominion of Canada. The following year, Howland retired from office to accept the Lieutenant-Governorship of Ontario, a position in which he remained until 1873. He then retired from public life. He continued in business, moving to the Village of Waterdown and running one of the largest mills in the Smokey Hollow industrial complex, until his son died in 1900. Moving to Toronto, Howland died on January 1, 1907.
- Todd Harvey, (1975- ), Retired NHL hockey player. Also had a successful junior career, which included being the captain of the Canadian team at the World Junior Hockey Championships.
- Mark Visentin, (1992- ) Ice hockey player, Goalie for the Niagara Ice Dogs of the OHL, drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes (1st round, 27th overall, 2010 NHL entry draft), member of 2008 U17 Team Canada gold medal team, began hockey career playing for the Flamborough Sabres AA in 2000, winning OMHA gold medals in 2001 (undefeated season) and 2002, member of Halton Hurricanes AAA team for six years winning 5 OMHA medals and member of Waterdown Wolves Rep Baseball team for seven years winning 5 provincial championships, Awarded Hamilton Civic award (2004), and Halton Hills Civic Award (2005) for Junior Athletic achievement. In December 2010, Visentin was named to Team Canada Under-20 that won a silver medal at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Buffalo, New York. In December 2011, Visentin was named to Team Canada again for the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championships in Calgary & Edmonton, Alberta.
- John Williams, Jr., (1977- ), CFL Football Player. Played for the B.C. Lions, The Edmonton Eskimos, Toronto Argonauts, currently the Hamilton Tiger Cats. Along with his father John Williams Sr. is the only father son combination in CFL history to both have won a Grey Cup. Jr.- 2002, Sr.- 1972.
- Leo Clarke Waterdown born recipient of the Victoria Cross for actions during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette in the First World War
- Dylan Everett, (1995- ) Gemini-nominated actor, best known for his roles on Canadian teen comedies and dramas.
- Manson, Bill (2003). Footsteps In Time: Exploring Hamilton's heritage neighbourhoods. North Shore Publishing Inc. ISBN 1-896899-22-6.
- Tidridge, Nathan (2011). The Extraordinary History of Waterdown and East Flamborough. Waterdown: St*one Soup Publications. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-9734438-1-3.
- Tidridge, Nathan (2001). The Extraordinary History of Waterdown and East Flamborough. Waterdown: St*one Soup Publications. pp. 9–11. ISBN 978-0-9734438-1-3.
- Mills, Stanley (1937). Lake Medad. Hamilton.
- Tidridge, Nathan (2011). The Extraordinary History of Waterdown and East Flamborough. Waterdown: St*one Soup Publications. ISBN 978-0-9734438-1-3.
- Woods, Donald R. and Diane E. (2011). The Mills of Waterdown. Waterdown: The Waterdown East Flamborough Heritage Society. ISBN 0-921592-50-7.
- Parker and Woods, Allan and Diane (1984). Exploring the Past: Waterdown. Waterdown: W.L. Printing Limited.
- Barbara Brown (2006-06-06). "GARDINER AT 'HIGH RISK' TO OFFEND; CROWN TELLS JUDGE IT'S IN HIS HANDS TO PROTECT WOMEN FROM SLASHER'S ESCALATING CRIMES". Hamilton Spectator, The (ON). p. Section Local, A05.
- "Hamilton- Waterfall Capital of the World". (www.cityofwaterfalls.ca) from Joe Hollick's list. Retrieved 2008-08-22.
- Hamilton Waterfalls and Cascades: Research & Inventory Report, 2nd Edition. Hamilton Conservation Authority. November 2007. pp. 22–44.
- "Hamilton Arenas Listing". Retrieved 2008-08-22.
- "Arenas Maps: Ontario". Retrieved 2008-08-22.
- The MacMillan Dictionary of Canadian Biography, fourth edition. Toronto: Macmillan of Canada. 1974.
- Cole, Stephen (2006). The Canadian Hockey Atlas. Doubleday Canada. ISBN 978-0-385-66093-8 (0-385-66093-6) Check
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Waterdown.|
- Rotary Club of Waterdown
- Watedown BIA
- Flambourough Chamber of Commerce
- Waterdown Ontario Online - Waterdown & Flamborough Community Website