Today, the name Aldershot is very loosely applied to the residential sub-divisions and commercial strip developments along Plains Road and the larger industries further to the north. Originally the name Aldershot, Aldershott, or Aldershot-on-the-Plains as it was frequently called, was the name given to the only settlement area in the lower concessions of East Flamborough Township. Located at the junction of the Waterdown and Plains Roads it was the result of the development of Brown’s Wharf on Burlington Bay.
To provide dock facilities, in the late 1830s, Alexander Brown built a long wooden wharf from the shores of Burlington Bay and stacked cordwood there for the passing lake steamers to pick up. As early as 1828, Ebenezer Griffin, a Waterdown mill owner, had used the bay to ship flour from his mills to wholesale houses in Montréal and Québec. Within the next decade, Brown’s Wharf was handling the grist trade of his sons who sold not only to surrounding markets, but to those as far away as the Maritimes. By the late 1840s Brown’s Wharf had developed into a busy shipping port on the Great Lakes known as Port Flamborough. The Ontario Navigation Company of Toronto contracted Brown’s Wharf to provide its ships with the necessary fuel. Over the next twenty years, during its period of greatest prosperity, the wharf and adjoining areas were filled to capacity with wood to supply these steamers during the navigation season. As the port prospered, the construction of the Waterdown and Port Flamboro Road in 1856 resulted in even greater trade. Teamsters hauled logs from the Millgrove, Bakersville, Carlisle, and Lowville areas, thousands of bushels of flour, barley, and potash and woollen goods from the Grindstone Creek mills of Waterdown were shipped out. As with the growth of the port, the presence of boats and sailors made necessary a tavern and stores to provide for their needs.
Plains Road running through the lower concessions of the township, was once the Hamilton-Nelson Toll Road. At its junction with the Waterdown Road was one of many toll gates that were established along its length. Several hotels and businesses within close proximity to this traveller’s stop sprang up. On the south west corner of what today is known as LaSalle Park Road and Plains Road was Aldershot Corners.
The Post Office at Aldershot was opened in December 1856, the first Post Master being Alexander Brown Jr.1 and so the settlement came to officially exist.
Between 1870 and 1890, this small settlement began to see the decline in the importance of Brown’s Wharf, although it remained in use until the beginning of the twentieth century.
Using the various Directories in the Society’s Archives, the development of Aldershot between the late 1850s and the turn of the century can be traced. In 1875, the village was described as “A post village in Wentworth County, 1/2 mile from Waterdown Station, Population 150.” Included in the Directory Listing was a record of the major businesses and inhabitants of the village.
Originally published in Heritage Happenings, February 1988.
© The Waterdown-East Flamborough Heritage Society 1988, 2021.
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