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|Township of Wellesley|
A bridge crossing the Conestogo River in Wellesley.
Wellesley within the Regional Municipality of Waterloo
|• Mayor||Joe Nowak|
|• Governing Body||Wellesley Township Council|
|• Councillors||Shelley Wagner, Herb Neher, Peter van der Maas, Carl Smit|
|• MP||Harold Albrecht (CPC|
|• MPP||Michael Harris (PCPO)|
|• Land||277.79 km2 (107.26 sq mi)|
|• Density||38.6/km2 (100/sq mi)|
|Time zone||EST (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|Postal Code FSA||N0B|
|Area code(s)||519 and 226|
The Township of Wellesley is the rural, north-western township of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. It encompasses 277.79 km2 and had a population of 11,260 in the Canada 2016 Census.
By 1805, many Mennonites from Pennsylvania had settled nearby in Berlin but Wellesley Township itself was not surveyed until 1842, and the area around Crosshill was settled in 1846 by M. Hastings and Hugh Hutchinson.
In 1837, 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.
The village of St. Clements was settled in 1840, by Michael Spiehlmacker. A post office opened in 1853. By 1864, there was a large Roman Catholic church, two stores, three hotels and some tradesmen, although the population was only about 100. By 1869, the population had increased to 200 and the post office was receiving mail daily.
Records from 1846 about the entire Township indicate that much of the land had been "Queen's Rush, crown land, where fifty acre lots were given away to actual settlers". The Population of the entire township in 1841, was only 254.
The area now the village of Wellesley on the Nith River was first settled in 1847, by John Smith and was originally called Schmidtsville. The post office opened in 1851 and the village was renamed Wellesley after Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley, the eldest brother of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. The community quickly grew to be the largest economic centre in rural Waterloo County, with a wood mill, feed mill, a grain mill (which still stands after being constructed in 1856), leather tanner, cheese factory, restaurants and housing, and many other businesses that also brought much trade to the town from the nearby farms and farming villages. By 1864, the village also had two stores, a flour mill, three wagon makers, boot and shoe shops, a hotel two churches and a school with 78 students. By 1869, the population of the village of Wellesley was 400; the nearest rail station was 9 mi (14 km) away in Baden.
The village of Heidelberg was settled in the 1840s and had a post office by 1855, receiving mail three times a week. By 1864, it contained two stores, two hotels, a Lutheran Church, and a school; the population was about 250. The township had three Roman Catholic Separate Schools. In 1869, the village of Bamberg had a population of 200; it was on the stagecoach line to St. Agatha.
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 railway and the county seat, Berlin began to grow rapidly and kept on growing; Hawkesville flourished only until the end of the century before diminishing.
At the end of the 1900s, the area was home to doctors, blacksmiths, and merchants, as well as a tannery, hotels, and churches. Into the early 1900s, the village carriage and wagon maker, George Diefenbacker (his preferred spelling) would entertain his grandson, John Diefenbaker, each summer.
The first library in Wellesley Village was incorporated in 1900, and except for the period between 1916 and 1921, there has been continuous public library service ever since. The current branch, now part of the Region of Waterloo Library system, is located in the former S.S. No. 16 Wellesley Township public school building. The school closed its doors in 1967. The building gradually came back to life as the library was placed in the left classroom on the main floor in July 1970.
The country scenery and rolling hills, along with its small town feel, have gradually transformed the township into a growing commuter town with a population mostly living in suburban developments, and travelling into the nearby cities of Kitchener and Waterloo for work.
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 cardinals, blue jays, robins, chickadees, nuthatch, and numerous song sparrow.
The township comprises the communities of Bamberg, Crosshill, Hawkesville, Heidelberg, Kingwood, Knight's Corners, Linwood, Macton, St. Clements, Wallenstein and Wellesley.
The population of the township at the time of the 2016 census was 11,260. The following chart shows the growth since 1991.
- Population in 2011: 10,713
- Population in 2006: 9,789
- Population in 2001: 9,365
- Population in 1996: 8,664
- Population in 1991: 8,234
Private dwellings occupied by usual residents in 2016: 3337 (total dwellings: 3403)
Most of the earlier companies have left the town of Wellesley, but many historic buildings still remain that enrich the heritage of the downtown area. A notable business that had its beginning in Wellesley is Erb Transport, which moved to the nearby town of New Hamburg. Presently, the largest businesses in town are Wellesley Apple Products (founded in 1922), two hardware and lumber retailers, two feed retailers, a gas station, a bank, an arena, an accessible playground, a splash pad, a community centre, a grocery store, a drug store, a furniture store, a funeral home, retirement residences, three auto body shops, insurance brokerages, a veterinary clinic, a bakery, a flower shop, a movie store, a pizza shop, a chiropractor, a catering business, three restaurants, a butcher shop, gourmet meats and deli, an art gallery, and numerous hair dressers.
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. Hawkesville was also home to Noah Martin and his famous summer sausage. Since his passing, Noah Martin’s summer sausage has been made outside of Hawkesville.
The largest employer in the township is Jones Feed Mill, located in Linwood. They manufacture a large array of livestock and pet feeds as well as edible grains out of 4 facilities. The mill has been family run for almost 100 years. Currently Jeff Jones, grandson of the founder, is the president and CEO. Linwood is also home to Linwood Veterinary Services, one of the largest farm animal veterinary clinics in southwestern Ontario.
Also, there are many small manufacturing companies in the township such as EMB Manufacturing, makers of the Wallenstein brand of forestry equipment.
Arts and culture
In celebration of some of the town's most well-known exports, the Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival was first held in 1975, and has been held annually on the last Saturday in September ever since. The festivities include many street market venues, coach rides, remote-controlled boat races, open heritage sites and amusements, horseshoe-pitching contests, guided farm tours, live music, meals that can be purchased on the main street, and a classic car show, all of which now attract thousands of visitors each year.
Linwood hosted its first Elvis festival in August 2008. This features Elvis impersonators from throughout Ontario.
On June 24, 2006, the town held its first annual Art Around the Pond gala where artisans of all kind were able to exhibit and advertise their creations and expertise. Stalls and tables are organized around the north and south sides of the Wellesley Pond while visitors can navigate the trail on the east side to access both ends. Speeches by local governors are given and live music is played on the central island.
The Wellesley Fall Fair is held once every year on the second Tuesday and Wednesday of September following Labour Day. There is a parade at around noon on the Wednesday that the local public school participates in and there are also rides and activities located on the community centre grounds.
Wellesley has also held the Wellesley Santa Claus Parade early in December since 2005 which includes floats created by many local businesses, churches and other organizations from around the area mainly driving down Queen's Bush Road, Nafziger Road, Maple Leaf Street, and Molesworth Street.
Though only the Hawkesville Mennonite Church and the Countryside Conservative Mennonite Fellowship remain, 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.
The first Catholic Church built in the township was a log church built in St. Clements around 1840, in 1853, the log church was deemed too small and in 1858, a large brick church was completed. A brass band from Buffalo, New York gave a concert before the church dedication. At the time of its opening, it was said to be the largest and finest church west of Toronto, Ontario.
The Linwood Chiefs are the township's main junior fastball club and play in the South Perth Men's Fastball League.
The Wellesley Fishing Derby is an annual event, held on Labour Day Monday, also located on the pond in which fishers attempt to catch three tagged fish which cash prizes are awarded for.
On occasion, the Canadian Horseshoe Pitching Championships are held in Wellesley at the Kitchener-Waterloo Khaki Club. They've been in town the years of 1983, 1985, 1995, and 2001.
The community hosts an inter-township soap box derby, Wellesley Soap Box Classic that includes numerous teams and individual contestants who race their vehicles down the hill of Nafziger Rd., just short of the downtown area.
- "Wellesley, Ontario (Code 3530027) census profile". 2011 Census of Population. Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
- http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/obj/001075/f2/e010780571_p3.pdf, 1864, page 183
- The Province of Ontario Gazetteer and Directory. Robertson & Cook. 1869. pp. 422, 561.
- Smith, Wm. H. (1846). SMITH'S CANADIAN GAZETTEER - STATISTICAL AND GENERAL INFORMATION RESPECTING ALL PARTS OF THE UPPER PROVINCE, OR CANADA WEST: (PDF). Toronto: H. & W. ROWSELL. p. 213.
- County of Waterloo Gazetteer and General Business Directory, For 1864 (PDF). Mitchell & Co. 1864. p. 201.
- County of Waterloo Gazetteer and General Business Directory, For 1864 (PDF). Mitchell & Co. 1864.
- County of Waterloo Gazetteer and General Business Directory, For 1864 (PDF). Mitchell & Co. 1864.
- https://archive.org/stream/provinceontario00mcevgoog#page/n50/mode/2up, page 41
- Statistics Canada: 1996, 2001, 2006 census
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