Crossing the creek

Dundas Street Beginnings, Part 3

Since water transportation along the north shore of Lake Ontario was good, there was not the urgency to build the eastern section of the Dundas Street highway that Simcoe had originally considered to be so important. Stretching from Burlington Bay to York, this second section of the highway was named the Dundas Highway after Henry Dundas, the British Home Secretary, responsible for colonial affairs and one of Simcoe’s close government friends.

Work on the eastern stretch of the road began in 1795, but was not completed until a decade later. It was surveyed and constructed several miles back from the lakeshore to avoid the difficulty of bridging the wide mouths of the many creeks and streams that crossed the area, and for the greater safety in transporting troops and supplies in the time of war.

When the survey line for the highway was extended eastward, it was superimposed on the Lewis Grant Survey of the Township of Flamborough that had been completed in 1793. Instead of traditionally following previously laid out concession lines, the road was constructed at a slight angle, halfway between the 3rd and 4th concession lines of the future township of East Flamborough – it is interesting to note that in the Village of Waterdown part of the 3rd Concession Road was never completed where drawn, because it was surveyed across the almost vertical face of the escarpment.

As the road was cut through the township, it was forced to swing slightly north around the Grindstone Creek, due both to the sudden steepness of the valley and the approaching edge of the escarpment. Early photographs clearly illustrate how the road was built down the slope to a low bridge over the stream and straight out through the future site of the village.

Even today, with all the many changes that have come with various road projects through the village, it is still possible, when standing on the bridge, looking to the east towards Vinegar Hill and down below, to see the steepness of the creek bed, to understand the problems the early road builders of Dundas Street faced.

North side showing Royal Bank of Canada on the north-west corner of Mill and Dundas Streets c.1918.

Sylvia Wray is the former archivist with the Flamborough Archives. She can be reached through the Archives at

This article was originally published in the Flamborough Review, 9 December 2005.


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