Historical Plaques of
Huron County

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The next plaque was sent in by Don Holmes & Marilyn Mills


Location: At the Thames Road United Church about 5 km
east of Exeter in Usborne Township


1883 - 1962

James Gardiner was born on a farm in nearby Hibbert Township. He moved to western Canada in 1901 where he farmed and became a school teacher and principal. A strong debater, Gardiner was elected to the Saskatchewan legislature in 1914 as Liberal member for North Qu'Appelle. He was appointed minister of highways in 1922 and in 1926 was elected premier of Saskatchewan. Gardiner resigned in 1935 to enter federal politics. As minister of agriculture under Mackenzie King and Louis St. Laurent, he represented rural Canada and introduced progressive farm legislation. When John Diefenbaker and the Conservatives swept to power in 1958 Gardiner left politics and returned to farming.

Ontario Heritage Foundation,
Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Recreation

The next 2 plaques were sent in by Dorothy Dahm


Location: Overlooking Maitland R., near corner of
East and Maitland St, Goderich

The honourable William Proudfoot, K.C. (1859-1922) was born in Colborne Township and educated at Goderich and Osgoode Hall. He rose to prominence as a lawyer and served in the Provincial Legislature, from 1908-1919. From 1917-1919, he was leader of the Liberal Opposition in the Assembly. He was called to the Senate of Canada where he sat until his death in 1922.

This plaque placed by the Huron County Historical Society and the Town of Goderich


Location: In Sloman Memorial Park on Victoria Terrace, west off #4
at the south end of Clinton

In 1922 veteran educator J.B. MacDougall urged the provincial government to establish railway car schools to serve residents of Northern Ontario's outlying regions. Four years later two cars, the first of seven, commenced operation. Once, the forerunner of this car was staffed by a Clinton native, Fred Sloman. A dedicated teacher and ardent supporter of the innovative program, Sloman travelled the CNR line from Capreol, near Sudbury north-west to Foleyet for 39 years. Aided by his wife, Cela, he taught academic subjects and the principles of democracy to children and adults, some with no previous schooling, and offered a variety of social services to those in need. The "Dean of Car School Instructors" Sloman retired in 1964, three years before the program was discontinued.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation,
Ministry of Culture and Communication


Location: The Wingham Museum, 273 Josephine St., Wingham

In the earky 1850s, settlers began moving into the townships in the Queen's Bush north of the Huron Tract. One of these townships, Turnberry, was surveyed by 1853 and a plot for a market town designated where two branches of the Maitland River met. Among the earliest settlers on the plot was John Cornyn who was operating a hotel here in 1861. A year later, a post-office named Wingham was established and by 1866 Wingham had become a prominent supply and distributing centre for the agricultural and lumbering hinterland. In the 1870s, railway expansion stimulated tremendous growth and led to Wingham's incorporation as a Village in 1874 with a population of 700. Five years later, its population numbering 2000, Wingham was incorporated as a Town.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation,
Ministry of Culture and Recreation


Location: Town Clerk's Office, Wingham

1860 - 1947
Born near Wingham, Reid became a successful genre painter and muralist who believed art to be an integral part of the human environment. He was active in organizing support organizations to promote various applications of art and served as president of both the Ontario Society of Artists (1897-1901) and the Royal Canadian Academy of Art (1906-09). In 1912 he became principal of the Ontario College of Art, a position he held for seventeen years. In the latter part of his career he painted many murals, notably that done for the Palaeontology Galleries of the Royal Ontario Museum. He died at Toronto.

Né près de Wingham, Reid est assez connu pour ses peintures de genre et ses murales. Pour lui, l'art était un élément essentiel du milieu humain. Il participa à la fondation de plusieurs organismes de patronage des arts et devint président de l'Ontario Society of Artists (1897-1901) et de l'Académie royale canadienne des arts (1906-09). En 1912, il fut nommé directeur de l'Ontario College of Art, poste qu'il occupa pendant dix-sept ans. Vers la fin de sa carrière, il peignit de nombreuses murales, notamment celle de la section de paléontologie du Royal Ontario Museum. Il mourut à Toronto.

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada


Location: at the Public Library, Turnberry & Mill Rd., Brussels

In 1854 William Ainley purchased two hundred acres of land here on the Middle Branch of the Maitland River. The following year he laid out a village plot which he named Ainleyville. A post office named Dingle was opened in 1856. The community flourished and by 1863 contained a sawmill, a grist-mill, blacksmith shops, a woollen mill and several other small industries. In anticipation of the rapid growth that the expected construction of a branch of the Wellington, Grey and Bruce Railway would bring, Ainleyville, with a population of 780, was incorporated as a village and renamed Brussels on December 24, 1872. Within a decade the population had increased to about 1800.

Erected by the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board,
Department of Public Records and Achives of Ontario


Location: Victoria Park, Victoria & Gouinlock St., Seaforth

Anticipating the construction of the Buffalo, Brantford and Goderich Railroad through this region, Christopher and George Sparling acquired, during 1850-53, most of the present site of Seaforth. George laid out a subdivision in 1856 and Christopher sold most of his land in Tuckersmith Township to a syndicate headed by James Patton of Barrie. Patton is said to have procured a railway station and named it Seaforth. Situated on the Huron Road and the railway, and a shipping point for wheat, Seaforth had a post office by December 1859, was incorporated as a village in 1868 and as a town in 1875.

Errected by the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board,
Department of Public Records and Achives of Ontario


Location: Seaforth & District High School, 58 Charles St. N., Seaforth

Founder of the Social Credit Party and premier of Alberta, 1935-43, Aberhart attended Seaforth Collegiate Institute, 1893-98, and later graduated from Queen's University. In 1910 he moved to Calgary where from 1915-35 he was a high school principal. An ardent fundalmentalist lay preacher he founded the Calgary Prophetic Bible Conference in 1918 to promote Bible study. His weekly religious radio broadcasts beginning in 1925 won him a large audience. In 1932 he became interested in the Social Credit movement, and promoted its doctrines in his broadcasts. Convinced of a need for monetary reform, he organized the Social Credit Party in 1935. His party won the election that year and he became premier.

Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario


Location: Seaforth & District High School, 58 Charles St. N., Seaforth

Founder and Principal of Ryerson Poyltechnic University, 1948-1966, Howard Kerr was born on Christmas eve, 1900, on a farm in McKillop Township. He attended Seaforth Collegiate Institute, and graduated from the University of Toronto with degrees in engineering and education in 1926. After more than a decade in teaching and administration in the public school system, Kerr was placed in charge of training personnel for overseas duty during the Second World War. Later appointed Director of the Training and Re-Establishment Institute of Toronto on the site of Egerton Ryerson's Normal School in downtown Toronto, he oversaw the training of 32,000 returning veterans. When the TRIT was due to close, Kerr pursuaded the Ontario government to establish a career-oriented, post-secondary institution to educate the citizens for occupations in the industrialized post-war economy. With clarity of vision and determination, he was responsible for the establishment of Ryerson Institute of Technology in 1948. He served as principal from 1948 to 1966, when he resigned to assume the chair of the Council of Regents for Colleges of Appllied Arts and Technology. Kerr helped establish twenty community colleges using the Ryerson model of education. He died January 16, 1984, and is buried in Maitlandbank Cemetery near Seaforth, beside his wife, Beatrice.

"There is no question that Howard Kerr will be ranked with Egerton Ryerson as one of the giants of education in Ontario."

Erected by:
Huron County Historical Society
Ryerson Polytechnic University Fiftieth Anniversary Committee
Seaforth District High School Student Council
Avon Maitland District School Board


Location: Egmondville Cemetery, West Bayfield & Church St., Egmondville

1778 - 1838
A native of Holland and veteran of the Napoleonic Wars, Van Egmond settled in this region in 1828. Under the general supervision of Dr. William "Tiger" Dunlop, he constructed the newly-surveyed Huron Road for the Canada Company. A large landowner in the Huron Tract, Van Egmond became strongly dissatisfied with the Company's policies and in 1835 stood, unsuccessfully, as a Reform candidate for election to the provincial legislature. A supporter of William Lyon Mckenzie, he commanded the rebel force during the skirmish at Montgomery's Tavern, Dec. 7, 1837, and was imprisoned in Toronto following its defeat. The following month he died while awaiting trial and is buried in Egmondville.

Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario


Location: Centre & Bayfield St., Egmondville

This house was built about 1846 by Constant Van Egmond, eldest son of Col. Anthony Van Egmond, a leader of rebel military forces in the Rebellion of 1837. It has the sturdy proportions typical of the Canadian vernacular interpretation of the Georgian style seen in many of Ontario's early nineteenth century buildings. The handsome door withs its rectangular transom and sidelights belongs to the style of the Classical Revival which dominated the province's architecture in the 1830's and 1840's. The structure depends for its effect on good proportions and, aside from the door, the only architectural detailing consists of a decorative brick frieze under the eaves. It remains as a good example of the region's early architecture.

Erected by the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board,
Ministry of Colleges and Universities


Location: St. Paul's Anglican Church, 49 Ontario St., Clinton

1817 - 1896
One of North America's pioneer ethnologists and linguists, Hale practised law in Clinton 1856-1896. Born in New Hampshire, he graduated from Harvard in 1837, and accompanied the Wilkes Expedition to the Pacific, 1838-1842. His contribution to the "Narrative" of that voyage is one of the basic sources for Polynesian ethnology. Hale discovered that the Tutelos near Brantford, fugitives from North Carolina, belonged to the Siouan family and identified the Cherokees of the Carolinas as linguistically Iroquoian. His intensive study of the languages and customs of the Six Nations of the Grand River culminated in his classic work, "An Iroquois Book of Rites", published in 1883.

Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario


Location: Central Huron Secondary School, 165 Princess St. E., Clinton

Born near here, Coats was educated locally and graduated in 1896 from the University of Toronto. In 1902 Mackenzie King, then Deputy Minister of Labour, persuaded Coats to become editor of the Labour Gazette. In this position he became convinced of the need for reliable government statistics. In 1915 he was appointed Canada's first Dominion Statistician and Controller of the Census. Coats drafted the legislation which established the Dominion Bureau of Statistics three years later. Twice a member of statistical committees with the League of Nations, he also served, after retiring in 1942, as a statistical advisor to the Ontario Government and to the United Nations. Coats was honoured by three Canadian universities and was a member of many foreign statistical societies.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation,
Ministry of Culture and Recreation


Location: Wesley Willis United Church, Mary & Victoria St., Clinton

The earliest settlers on this site had arrived by 1834, Peter Vanderburgh opened a tavern north of here at the junction of the London and Huron Roads, and Jonas Gibbings began farming to the east. "The Corners" grew slowly until William Rattenbury purchased three corners of the intersection and laid out a town plot. In 1852 a post office was opened and named Clinton, reportedly after Lord Clinton on whose English estate Rattenbury's father lived. Economic development was stimulated by the arrival of the Buffalo and Lake Huron Railway in 1858 and an increased U.S. demand for agricultural products during the Civil War. Clinton became an incorporated village in 1858, and a town in 1875.

Ontario Heritage Foundation,
Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Recreation


Location: Memorial Hall, 147 Queen St. N., Blyth

By 1851, Lucius McConnell and Kenneth McBain, two of the earliest settlers in the area, had located here in Morris Township. Four years later, Donald McDonald laid out a village plot on the border between Wawanosh and Morris Townships and in July, 1856, a post-office was established. The village developed slowly but within two years contained a sawmill owned by McBain, a Presbyterian church, a tavern, and store. Originally known as Drummond after an enterprising early family, the village, a market town for the surrounding agricultural region, was renamed Blyth after an absentee landowner. In January, 1876, a station on the London, Huron and Bruce Railway was opened and a year later the village was incorporated with a population of about 800.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation,
Ministry of Culture and Recreation


Location: at Sky Harbour Airport, Airport Rd., Goderich

With the outbreak of hostilities in 1939, one of Canada's major responsibilities was to provide air training facilities removed from the theatre of war. On December 17, 1939, the Plan was inaugurated. The first schools were opened the following year, among them No. 12 Elementary Flying Training School here at Sky Harbour. At the height of operations there were 38 training units in Ontario alone, including 32 air training schools. Before termination of the Plan on March 31, 1945, these and 70 similar establishments elsewhere in Canada trained over 300,000 aircrew, ground crew and airwomen, mostly from Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand but including American volunteers and escapees from Nazi-occupied Europe.

Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario


Location: at Sky Harbour Airport, Airport Rd., Goderich



North of this marker was the above base of the BCATP of World War II, inaugurated December 17th, 1939. From 360 schools, on 281 Canadian sites such as this, graduated 131,553 aircrew, over 200,000 ground crew and Air Women of the Air Forces of Canada, British Commonwealth and Allies, including many American volunteers in the RCAF.

Canadian BCATP graduates staffed most of these 360 schools, manned 78 RCAF active combat squadrons and served in most RAF and Commonwealth Combat squadrons in action in all theatres of war.


This Canadian built Lancaster X wingspan 102 feet, power 4, 1400 h.p. Rolls Royce Packard Merlin 224 engines, was manned by a crew of 7. Combat weight 32 tons, cruising speed 220 m.p.h. for ten hours with 6 tons of bombs. Donated by Branch 109 Royal Canadian Legion, the Township of Colborne, the Town of Goderich and the County of Huron. Lancaster FM 213 is dedicated to the memory of those that were killed or went missing.

Dedication Day, Battle of Britain Sunday, September 15, 1968


Location: Tomb Rd. off Airport Rd., Goderich

"TIGER" DUNLOP 1792 - 1848
In the nearby tomb is buried Dr. William Dunlop, physician, author, woodsman, soldier, politician and raconteur. Born in Scotland, he served in Canada as an army surgeon during the War of 1812. His writings, including articles based on his residence in India 1817-19, won him a place among the witty contributors to Blackwood's Magazine with the title of "Tiger". In 1826 he emigrated to Upper Canada. As Warden of the Forests for the Canada Company, he assisted John Galt in opening up the Huron Tract and in 1827 founded Goderich. Dunlop was member for Huron 1841-46 and wrote two books about Canada.

Erected by the Ontario Archaeological and Historic Sites Board


Location: Cobourg & Lighthouse St., Goderich

In a storm that struck Lake Huron on November 9, 1913, ten lake freighters were lost. Seven of them vanished, ranging from the 30-year-old, 270-foot "Wexford" to the 550-foot "James Carruthers", launched six months earlier at Collingwood. The bulk of the wreckage was cast up on the shore of Huron County, where recovery and identification of the crews' bodies were directed by a Lake Carriers' Association committee based at Goderich. The storm, which ravaged the Great Lakes region for three days, destroyed a total of 19 vessels and resulted in the stranding of 19 others, with a loss of 244 lives.

Errected by the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board,
Department of Public Records and Achives of Ontario


Location: Harbour Park, West St., Goderich

A powerful Canada Company land magnate, Jones was born in England and acquired business training there. By virtue of his London connections he obtained an appointment as a Company Commissioner and moved to York (Toronto) in 1829. He administered a large portion of this Company's lands, the one million acre Huron Tract, and by 1839 wielded unrivalled authority in the area. At the height of his influence he moved his headquarters to a newly constructed, lavishly furnished Goderich mansion, later known as Park House. A controversial figure, he was dismissed in 1852 for exceeding his authority. He remained in Goderich as the Bank of Montreal agent until 1857 when he moved to Toronto where he died.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation,
Ministry of Culture and Recreation


Location: Harbour Park, West St., Goderich

In 1826 the Canada Company, a newly chartered colonization firm, acquired a large block of land known as the Huron Tract. The following year William "Tiger" Dunlop, appointed Warden of the Forests by the Company's first superintendent, John Galt, established his base here in the western part of the Tract. Named Goderich after the Colonial Secretary, Viscount Goderich, the site was initially marked only by "The Castle", Dunlop's residence, but a settlement gradually developed. By 1829 the Canada Company had surveyed a town plot, opened the Huron Road from Guelph, and established an office. In 1841 Goderich became the administtrative and judicial centre for the newly created Huron District. Nine years later, with a population of about 1,000, the community was incorporated as a town.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation,
Ministry of Culture and Communication


Location: In Clan Gregor Square, Bayfield

In 1832 Carel Lodewijk, Baron van Tuyll van Serooskerken, a Dutch nobleman, purchased large holdings in the Huron Tract including 388 acres here which he set aside for a settlement. During the next decade an extensive town plot was laid out, grist and saw mills were erected and a community was established. The settlement, named Bayfield after the nautical surveyor Henry Wolsey Bayfield, developed as a centre for the surrounding agricultural community. By 1851 the hamlet contained a wagon and ploughmaking works, two blacksmiths shops, an ashery, a distillery, two tanneries, a brickyard and about 125 residents. The construction of a harbour during the 1870's spurred further growth, and in 1876, with a population of over 800, Bayfield was incorporated as a village.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation,
Ministry of Citizenship and Culture


Location: at the junction of County Rds. 21 & 84, St. Joseph

1870 - 1940
Descended from a long line of French-Canadian shipbuilders, Cantin was born on a nearby farm which his grandfather acquired about 1850. An energetic entrepreneur, inventor and cattle trader, Cantin began work here, in 1897, on a city named St. Joseph from which he hoped to construct a canal linking Lake Huron and Erie. Undaunted by his inability to raise sufficient funds for this project, he initiated and, between 1900 and 1930, tirelessly promoted the concept of a Great Lakes seaway system which "would take passengers and freight from all ocean ports on the globe direct to all the principal ports of the Great Lakes".

Erected by the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board,
Department of Public Records and Achives of Ontario


Location: Riverview Park, Main St., just south of the Ausable River bridge, Exeter

In 1833 the families of James Willis and William McConnell became the ealiest settlers in this area. Within a year McConnell had erected mills here on the banks of the Aux Sables River near which a community known as Francistown developed. South of the mills near Willis's location on the "London Road", Isaac Carling opened a store and tannery in 1847 and James Pickard a general store in 1851. Four years later a village plot (Exeter) was laid out and by 1860 Exeter had become the chief market centre of the district. In anticipation of the growth that the London, Huron and Bruce Railway would bring, Exeter and Francistown were amalgamated and incorporated as the village of Exeter on March 29, 1873.

Erected by the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board,
Ministry of Colleges and Universities


Location: In Zurich, on the north side of Main Street at the east end of town

One of Canada's most influential political journalists and a strong advocate of the Imperial Federation movement, Willison was born on a farm about 6.5 kilometres northeast of here. He began his career in 1881 with the London Advertiser. Two years later, he joined the Toronto Globe and in 1890 was appointed chief editor of that newspaper. In 1902, he resigned to become editor of the idependent Toronto Daily News (1902-1917) and in 1910 was named Canadian correspondent of the London Times. Willison was knighted in 1913 for his contribution to journalism. His many written works include a notable biography of Sir Wilfred Laurier.

Ontario Heritage Foundation, an agency of the Government of Ontario


Location: On Little Lakes Road, just west of Road 8,
5 km south of Blyth Road, northwest of Goderich

Ball's Bridge was erected in 1885 to connect Goderich, the county seat, with outlying areas to the east. The structure is an excellent - and now rare - example of a two-span Pratt design through truss, pin-connected wrought iron bridge. Its construction shows attention to detail through the 'v-lacing' located at various points on the bridge. Built during the horse-and-carriage age, it continued to serve as a major crossing point on the Maitland River until 1989, when the bridge was deemed unable to support the weight of modern vehicles. In 2006, it was closed to all traffic and faced a bleak future. Due to the dedicated efforts of the Friends of Ball's Bridge, it was fully restored and upgraded, and reopened to light traffic in 2007.

Ontario Heritage Trust, an agency of the Government of Ontario


Location: On the west side of Victoria Street North (Highway 21)
just north of Napier Street

Erected between 1839 and 1841, this remarkably preserved building follows Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon design for prison construction, often found in mid-19th-century Britain and America. It features an octagonal central block, intended to ensure constant supervision of prisoners' activities. Two radial wings and wedge-shaped exercise yards surrounded by thick masonry walls completed the original design by Thomas Young of Toronto. Construction of this prison with its third floor courtroom enabled Huron to qualify as a district separate from London, with Goderich as its seat.

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada


Location: In a corridor outside the former Council Chambers on
the 2nd Floor of the Huron County Courthouse

Born at Hills Green, Willison, as editor of the Toronto Globe (1890-1902), made it the most influential organ of Liberalism in Canada. Disenchanted with the policies of the Laurier ministry, he resigned from the Globe in 1902 and took over the independent Toronto News. His support of the Conservatives in the election of 1911 lost him his Liberal readers and the News ceased publication in 1917, Willison becoming Canadian correspondent for the London Times. Among his several books, Sir Wilfrid Laurier and the Liberal Party (1903; rev. ed. 1926) is generally considered to be the most significant. He died in Toronto

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada


Location: In Kirkton, in a parkette on the northeast corner ofHighway 23
and County Road 8

Born at Clogher, County Antrim in northern Ireland, Timothy Eaton emigrated to Canada about 1854. In 1856, he and his brother James opened a general store of log construction about .4 km from this site in the hamlet of Kirkton. From 1860 to 1868 the Eaton brothers operated a dry goods business in the nearby community of St. Mary's. In the latter year Timothy moved to Toronto. There, in December, 1869 he opened a store, from which grew the nation-wide business that bears the Eaton name. Endowed with exceptional business acumen, he pioneered many aspects of retail merchandising in this country.

Archaeological and Historical Sites Board of Ontario