Halton County, Ontario

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Halton County is a former county in the Canadian province of Ontario, with an area of 228,181 acres (923.42 km2). It is also one of the oldest counties in Canada.


Thomas Ridout survey of 1821. The northern section shows Blocks 1–4, together with Crown reserves and clergy reserves, and certain townships to the east, all being north of Dundas Street, that became part of Halton.

Halton County is named after Major William Mathew Halton (1746-1823), a British Army officer, who was appointed in England in 1805 as Secretary to Upper Canada Lieutenant-Governor Sir Francis Gore and spent little time in Canada during his posting[1] (served two terms 1806-1811 and 1815-1816).[2]

Settlers started to arrive in the area in the early 1780s. The south was first settled by United Empire Loyalists, and the north was settled mainly by immigrants from the British Isles. In 1788, the area became part of the Nassau District,[3][4] which was renamed the Home District in 1792.[5][6]

Historic townships[edit]

  • Esquesing Township (area 66,700 acres (104 sq mi; 270 km2)). Opened in 1819, the first town meeting was held in 1821 when the population was 424. The name Esquesing was said to come from an Indigenous word meaning "the land of the tall pine(s)", but is more likely to come from the Mississauga word ishkwessin, meaning "that which lies at the end",[7] which was the original name for Bronte Creek.[8] Community centres were Georgetown, Acton, Glen Williams, Stewarttown, Norval, Limehouse.
  • Nassagaweya Township (area 44,797 acres (70 sq mi; 181 km2)). Opened in 1819, its name was derived from the Mississauga word niizhozaagiwan, meaning "having two outlets",[7] which was the original name of the Sixteen Mile Creek.[8] Community centres were Campbellville, Darbyville and Eden Mills.
  • Nelson Township (area 46,236 acres (72 sq mi; 187 km2)) Opened in 1806 and named in honour of Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson. Community centre: Burlington.
  • Trafalgar Township (area 67,055 acres (105 sq mi; 271 km2)), opened in 1806, the year after the Battle of Trafalgar. The township was settled in 1807. Community centres were Milton, Oakville, Bronte.

First Nations land surrenders[edit]

The lands that eventually formed part of Halton were acquired from the Mississauga Indians as follows:

Land surrenders leading to formation of Halton County
Treaty Date Area Nelson[9] Trafalgar[10] Nassagaweya[9] Esquesing[11]
24 October 1795 3,450 acres (14.0 km2) Green tickY
8 21 August 1797 3,450 acres (14.0 km2) Green tickY
13a 2 August 1805 Part of township Green tickY Green tickY
14 6 September 1806 Part of township Green tickY Green tickY
19 21 October 1818 Part of township Green tickY Green tickY
19 28 October 1818 Part of Trafalgar; All of Nassagaweya and Esquesing Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY

Municipal organization and evolution[edit]

Along with Wentworth County, Halton County was created in 1816 as part of the Gore District,[12] consisting of the townships of Trafalgar, Nelson, Flamborough, and Beverley, together with certain blocks of land on the Grand River and reserved lands to the rear of the townships of Blenheim and Blandford.[13] In 1821, the county was expanded through the addition of the townships of Esquesing, Erin, Nassagaweya, Eramosa, and Garafraxa, together with certain church land.[14]

In 1838, on the creation of Wellington District, the townships of Garafraxa, Nichol, Woolwich, Guelph, Waterloo, Wilmot, Dumfries, Puslinch, Erin and Eramosa were withdrawn from Halton and transferred to it,[15] to be known as Waterloo County.[16]

Upon the passage of the Act of Union 1840, for electoral purposes Halton became two ridings for electing members to the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada:[17]

  • East Riding: the townships of Trafalgar, Nelson, Esquesing, Nassagaweya, East Flamborough, West Flamborough, Erin and Beverley.
  • West Riding: the townships of Garafraxa, Nichol, Woolwich, Guelph, Waterloo, Wilmot, Dumfries, Puslinch and Eramosa.

When the East and West Ridings were renamed for their respective counties in 1845, the township of Erin continued to be part of Halton for electoral purposes.[18]

When the Gore District was abolished in 1850, the township of Erin was fully withdrawn and Halton County was united with Wentworth County to form the United Counties of Wentworth and Halton.[19] As a result of a territorial reorganization in 1851, Halton County was reduced in size, with only the townships of Esquesing, Trafalgar, Nassageweya and Nelson remaining,[20][21] and the union of counties was abolished in 1854.[22]

As settlement progressed, several urban areas developed and were organized into separate villages and towns:

In 1861, the County population was about 22,794.[32]

In 1958, Burlington amalgamated with the township of Nelson and annexed part of the township of East Flamborough.[33] Oakville did the same in 1962, through amalgamation with Bronte and the township of Trafalgar.[34] As a consequence, special legislation was passed to provide that votes of members of the county council were to be allocated according to the populations of the respective municipalities, provided that the combined number of votes for Burlington and Oakville would not be greater than the total votes allocated to the remaining municipalities.[35]

In 1974, Halton County was replaced by the Regional Municipality of Halton.[36][37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Scotch Block: Adapting to a New Country". Tackaberry Times. June 2001.
  2. ^ "Dividing the Land". Regional Municipality of Halton. Archived from the original on 2013-10-29.
  3. ^ Proclamation, July 24, 1788
  4. ^ "Province of Quebec, 1788". Archives of Ontario.
  5. ^ An act for building a gaol and court house in every district in this province, and for altering the names of the said districts, S.U.C. 22 Geo. III, c. 8, s. 4
  6. ^ "Upper Canada, 1792". Archives of Ontario.
  7. ^ a b FREELANG Ojibwe-English and English-Ojibwe online dictionary
  8. ^ a b "French Sketch Map, c. 1760". Archived from the original on 2014-04-19. Retrieved 2012-02-22.
  9. ^ a b Indian Treaties and Surrenders 1905, p. xliii.
  10. ^ Indian Treaties and Surrenders 1905, p. lix.
  11. ^ Indian Treaties and Surrenders 1905, p. xxiv.
  12. ^ "Upper Canada, 1826". Archives of Ontario.
  13. ^ An Act to erect and form a new district out of certain parts of the Home and Niagara Districts, to be called the district of Gore, S.U.C. 56 Geo. III, c. 19, s. 12
  14. ^ An Act to repeal part of an act passed in the thirty-eighth year of his late Majesty's reign, entitled, "An act for the better division of this province," and to make further provision for the division of the same into counties and districts, S.U.C. 2 Geo. IV, c. 3, s. 9
  15. ^ An Act erecting certain parts of the Counties of Halton and Simcoe into a new District, by the name of the District of Wellington, S.U.C. 1837 (1st Session), c. 116
  16. ^ 1837 Act, s. 28
  17. ^ An Act to re-unite the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, and for the Government of Canada, 3 & 4 Vic., c. 35, s. 13
  18. ^ An Act for better defining the limits of the Counties and Districts in Upper Canada, for erecting certain new Townships, for detaching Townships from some Counties and attaching them to others, and for other purposes relative to the division of Upper Canada into Townships, Counties and Districts, S.C. 8 Vic., c. 7, Sch. B
  19. ^ An Act for abolishing the Territorial Division of Upper-Canada into Districts, and for providing for temporary Unions of Counties for Judicial and other purposes, and for the future dissolutions of such Unions, as the increase of wealth and population may require, S.C. 12 Vic., c. 78, Sch. C
  20. ^ An Act to make certain alterations in the Territorial Divisions of Upper Canada, S.C. 14 & 15 Vic., c. 5, Sch. A
  21. ^ "Province of Canada, 1851". Archives of Ontario.
  22. ^ An Act to separate the County of Halton from the County of Wentworth, S.C. 1853, c. 218
  23. ^ "Acton Historical Plaque". Archived from the original on 2012-03-11. Retrieved 2012-02-26.
  24. ^ "The First Council of the Town of Acton - 1950". The Acton Free Press. 1950-01-12. Retrieved 2012-05-29.
  25. ^ "Bronte Harbour". Town of Oakville.
  26. ^ as acknowledged in the Preamble to An Act respecting the Town of Burlington, S.O. 1916, c. 67
  27. ^ "Description of a 1917 town". InsideHalton.com. March 8, 2012.
  28. ^ An Act to incorporate the Town of Georgetown, S.O. 1921, c. 104
  29. ^ "History of Georgetown". Downtown Georgetown. Archived from the original on 2017-03-19. Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  30. ^ An Act to incorporate the Town of Milton, in the County of Halton, S.C. 1857, c. 92
  31. ^ An Act to incorporate the Town of Oakville, S.C. 1857, c. 93
  32. ^ Warnock 1862, p. 3.
  33. ^ "Council of Twelve for Burlington As Town, Township Unite in 1958". The Canadian Champion. September 19, 1957. p. 1.
  34. ^ "Approve Amalgamation Must Vote on New Name". The Canadian Champion. August 10, 1961. p. 1.
  35. ^ The County of Halton Act, 1962-63, S.O. 1962-63, c. 166
  36. ^ The Regional Municipality of Halton Act, 1973, S.O. 1973, c. 70
  37. ^ "Regional Municipality of Halton". Archives of Ontario.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°35′N 79°55′W / 43.583°N 79.917°W / 43.583; -79.917