As Waterdown developed into a prosperous village during the 1850s and 1860s, James Kent Griffin continued the enterprises begun by his father 20 years earlier, and expanded them to become a contractor, building houses and roads, including Snake Road, the first toll road into the village from Hamilton that opened in 1853.
Extended through the village a year later, this section was originally known as the Griffin or Gravel Road, through J. K. Griffin’s financial involvement. The extension crossed Dundas Street and continued northwards to link with Centre Road, just north of the 4th Concession (Parkside Drive, today). One development resulting from Griffin’s new road was that all houses built after 1854 faced onto Main Street North; prior to this, the few village houses that had been built north of Dundas Street had driveways linking them directly to Dundas Street.
During the 1860s, as Chairman of the Hamilton, Waterdown and Carlisle Road Company, Griffin oversaw the road’s expansion beyond the village. The road company undertook improvements to the Centre Road which resulted in the introduction of stagecoach travel, first to Carlisle, then Kilbride and eventually to Milton.
The stage that traveled on Centre Road and Snake Road carried passengers and mail daily between Milton and Hamilton. It obliged local residents by making purchases for them in the city. It stopped at the Waterdown Post Office (present day Pause Awhile) at 9 a.m. on its way to Hamilton and again at 5 p.m. on the return trip. Before the establishment of a bakery in Waterdown, all the bread needed by village residents was transported on the stage to Griffin’s General Store in the village.
Travel meant hotels. Reputedly, during the 1860s and 1870s, there were more hotels than churches in Waterdown and were located at all the important stopping points, including the Valley Inn (at the southern end of Snake Road), Grapevine Inn or Halfway House (at York Road), Christopher Alderson’s Union Hotel (Main Street North at Kelly Street), The Rising Sun Hotel (Centre Road at Bakersville) and Barney Brown’s Hotel in Carlisle.
Sylvia Wray is the former archivist with the Flamborough Archives. She can be reached through the Archives at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally published in the Flamborough Review, 9 February 2007.