A street in Hawkesville.
|Elevation||357 m (1,171 ft)|
|Time zone||EST (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|Forward sortation area||N0B 1X0|
|Area code(s)||519 and 226|
The village of Hawkesville in Ontario, Canada is a small community in the township of Wellesley in the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. With a population of about 300 in 2008, Hawkesville is still a quaint little town in the heart of Mennonite country and is approximately 7 km northwest of St. Jacobs. While many tourists flock to St. Jacobs in search of Mennonite quilts and artifacts and Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine, many drive on to Hawkesville looking for custom-built Mennonite furniture.
Though Wellesley Township itself was not surveyed until 1842 and was only incorporated in 1852, settlers were already long in this area. By 1805, many Mennonites from Pennsylvania had settled nearby in what became known as Berlin, and today as Kitchener. In 1837, the same year that William Lyon Mackenzie’s rebellion was defeated at York (now Toronto), John Philip Schweitzer from Germany squatted at what is now Hawkesville, and had 40 acres (160,000 m2) of land cleared over the following nine years. Then, John Hawke received government permission to buy the clearing for $700.00 on the condition that he build a grist mill (for flour) and a sawmill within two years. John Hawke, the second son of Benjamin Hawke and Mary (Lount), had arrived.
Benjamin Hawke was a United Empire Loyalist and a Quaker that fled military conflict in the United States to settle in Simcoe County. Though his wife’s family, the Lounts, were also Quakers, his brother-in-law Samuel Lount was one of William Lyon Mackenzie’s lieutenants in the 1837 revolt. After Samuel Lount was hanged for treason, Benjamin Hawke decided to move out of Simcoe County. When his son John received permission to purchase 40 acres (160,000 m2) in Waterloo County, Benjamin moved there with his wife, his four sons, and his seven daughters. The Hawkes arrived in 1846; John built the grist mill, his younger brother Piercifer built a sawmill, and “Hawke’s village” appeared on the Waterloo County map.
John Hawkes' sister Araminta was married to George Hughes, an original resident of Hawkesville and grandson of Daniel Boone.
A post office was established in Hawkesville in 1852. When the Waterloo County boundaries were established in 1852 to include the townships of Waterloo, Wellesley, Wilmot, Woolwich, and North Dumfries, John Hawke was named the first Reeve of Wellesley and the first township hall was built in Hawkesville. When the decision was being made for the location of a county seat, Hawkesville originally anticipated being chosen over Berlin and Galt. However, John Hawke had the deciding vote, and he cast it in favour of Berlin. With the railroad and the county seat, Berlin began to grow rapidly and kept on growing; Hawkesville flourished only until the end of the century before diminishing.
Records from 1864 indicate that the community of about 400 people had three stores, two woolen factories, a tannery, two wagon makers and some tradesmen. The school in Hawkesville had 100 students by that time. There were four churches, although two were still under construction in 1864. The 6th Division court held its hearings in this community.
Hawkesville never would get the railroad. On a hill itself, ringed by the flat of the Conestoga River, itself inside a ring of tall hills, it was deemed too difficult a task to bring the trains through town. Instead of progress, Hawkesville has maintained the charm of the surrounding sugar maple woods and the quiet river banks. Summer mornings are sure to find a few young fishermen reclined on the bank, reeling in northern pike, yellow perch, and rainbow trout.
To the south, the tall hills beyond the river plain shelters a large gravel pit and in the skies over the hills, the river, the village and the woods, are sure to be found the red-tailed hawk and the common sightings of northern cardinals, blue jays, robins, chickadees, nuthatch, and numerous song sparrow.
Hawkesville is home to several small and medium size businesses including the larger Frey Building Contractors and the Country Lane Builders. Most notably, perhaps, Hawkesville has become a primary destination for those seeking fine custom-built furniture. While many Mennonites in the surrounding area build and sell furniture, the town itself is home to three quality furniture businesses: Chervin Custom Woodworks, Hawkwoods Custom Furniture, and Homestead Woodworks.
Also, Hawkesville was home to Noah Martin and his famous Summer sausage. Since his passing, Noah Martin’s summer sausage has been made outside of Hawkesville.
The small variety store was located in the center of town doubled as the post office, a return to the days of 1852 when John Hawke’s older brother Gabriel was granted a post office and located it in a small store. Even in the 21st Century, the variety store has remained a place for neighbours to come for their mail and linger over a cup of coffee. For the David Martin Mennonites and Old Order Mennonites arriving at the store by Horse and buggy, a century and a half has changed very little.
Though only the Hawkesville Mennonite Church and the Countryside Conservative Mennonite Fellowship remain in town, Hawkesville has been the birthplace of several congregations. A Presbyterian congregation worshiped in town from 1868 to 1946. Their old church building was dedicated as Hawkesville Mennonite Church on January 1, 1950.
A United Brethren church also existed in Hawkesville from 1865 until 1904. The gothic windows and rafters are still visible inside the shop of Hawkwoods Custom Furniture.
Another group started meeting in 1931 and completed the building of a Gospel Hall next door to the village’s Cemetery in 1939. This group became the Hawkesville Bible Chapel, but their Hall became overcrowded and they moved into a new building in Wallenstein in 1968 where the Wallenstein Bible Chapel remains today.
Notable People Native to Hawkesville
Ogram, Grace “Letter to the Hawkesville Cemetery” 30 July 1986. Waterloo-Wellington Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society
Dick, J. and Longo, M. Heritage Driving Tour of Wellesley Township. Waterloo Regional Heritage Foundation, 1989.
"Hawkesville Village History." Hawkesville Walking Tour. Hawkesville Heritage Day, June 1991.
- County of Waterloo Gazetteer and General Business Directory, For 1864 (PDF). Mitchell & Co. 1864. p. 148.