map of Woolwich Township

jump down to view North Woolwich history jump down to view Floradale history jump down to view Elmira history jump down to view West Montrose Station history jump down to view West Montrose history jump down to view Zuber Corners history jump down to view Weissenberg history jump down to view Jerusalem Corners history jump down to view Three Bridges history jump down to view St. Jacobs history jump down to view Winterbourne history jump down to view Conestogo history jump down to view Heidelberg history jump down to view Heidelberg Station history jump down to view Wagner's Corner history

History of Woolwich Township

Woolwich Township was one of the earliest townships secured for settlement in Waterloo County. However, compared to that of other townships, the process of settlement was slow to begin. The earliest settler may have arrived in the Township as early as 1807, but the majority of settlement did not begin until the 1830s.[1] Although Woolwich Township settlers came from a variety of origins, in the early years the majority were of German-Mennonite heritage, most of whom came from Pennsylvania and Waterloo Township.[2] In general, they tended to settle west of the Grand River, while English (many of them Methodists) and Scots-Presbyterians settled to the east.[3] A large number of Woolwich Township settlers were farmers and small trades workers. The village of Elmira eventually grew around the farmlands, with settlement by immigrants of a variety of professions, trades, and businesses.

In the early settlement period, the bulk of immigrants into Waterloo County chose to settle in previously settled areas like Waterloo Township where settlement had begun as early as 1800.[4] For this reason, settlement in Woolwich Township was all but neglected for several decades. Moreover, when a noticeable amount of settlement did begin in the area, immigrants generally preferred to settle near the Woolwich-Waterloo township line where they would remain in close proximity to communities of Waterloo Township including Berlin. As Woolwich Township was increasingly settled along the southern township line, however, it became less dependent upon its southern neighbour. Consequently, new communities in the Township sprang up in its northern areas. Although the person who named Woolwich Township is not known, the Township was officially named in 1816 when it became part of the District of Gore.[5] It is commonly believed that it was named after Woolwich, in Kent, England.[6]

Before the influx of European settlement, Woolwich Township was an area of Grand River land included within Block Three (86,078 acres) of the Six Nations grant. This grant had been donated by the British to the Six Nations in the late eighteenth century for their loyalty to the Crown in the American Revolutionary wars. On behalf of the Six Nations, Joseph Brant sold Block Three to William Wallace, a carpenter from Niagara, in 1798. Wallace subsequently sold portions of Block Three to a number of people including Robert Pilkington, who purchased 15,000 acres of the Block's eastern front sometime before 1803.[7] This area became Pilkington Township of Wellington County. The remaining area of Block Three would become Woolwich Township. Although Wallace forfeited Block Three lands in 1806 for failing to honour his contract, Brant allowed him to retain 7,000 acres in the south-eastern corner of the Township. However, after siding with the Americans in the War of 1812, Wallace forfeited this portion of land as well. Subsequently, Wallace's land had to be resold.

William Wallace had received his Patent from the Crown for Block 3 on the Grand River (86,078 acres) on 5 February 1798. Subsequently, the Commissioner of Forfeited Estates sold 7000 acres of Wallace's forfeited lands to William Crooks on 6 November 1821. After that, William Crooks sold 7048 acres to the Honourable William Allan on 7 November 1822. William Allan (ca. 1877-1853) was a Scottish entrepreneur who was well known in Upper Canadian financial circles. He was a director of the Bank of Upper Canada and, as such, a member of the Family Compact. He was active in many land speculations such as the purchase of this part of Block Three in Woolwich Township. For more information about William Allan go to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.

The German Company, originally formed for the purchase of the land in Waterloo Township, also bought a large area of forfeited land. They purchased 45,195 acres in the Township's western portion in 1807. This German Company purchase was led by Augustus Jones (a senior government surveyor), and John and Jacob Erb of Waterloo Township. German Company land was surveyed by Jones into 130 lots of about 350 acres each.[8]  In 1821, William Crooks purchased the 7,000 acre area of land which Wallace had forfeited after the War of 1812. This area of land became known as Crooks Tract. Crooks divided the land and resold it in small parcels to incoming settlers, many of them from Scotland.[9]  In 1807, two German Company men, Henry Brubacher and Benjamin Eby, returned to Lancaster County Pennsylvania with Jones's survey. They wished to promote the sale of the company's land among their fellow Mennonite compatriots, as had been done with Waterloo Township.[10] The success of settlement in Waterloo Township consequently encouraged Mennonite buyers to purchase lots in Woolwich Township.[11] Subsequently, in 1808, lots totalling 26,600 acres were purchased by Mennonite buyers alone, and within a short period, all were sold.[12] These buyers purchased between one and four lots each, or 350 to 1,400 acres. However, they did not settle on their lands as quickly as had done the previous settlers of Waterloo Township. Instead, many Woolwich Township land owners chose to settle in Waterloo Township where settlement had already taken place.

For this reason, early settlement in Woolwich Township was initially marginal and sparse. For example, by 1825, including the settlers of Pilkington's Tract, the population of Woolwich Township was only 84.[13] Moreover, the majority of early settlement hardly ventured beyond the border of Waterloo Township. These settlers were mainly Mennonite farmers from Waterloo Township who wished to remain near the communities from where they came. Settlement in or near Waterloo Township meant that settlers gained  easier access to items like supplies, goods, and social support otherwise unavailable in the isolated areas of Woolwich Township.

From the early 1830s, settlers began to spill into Woolwich Township. Communities were formed first nearest the Waterloo-Woolwich border and later in northern areas. The population of the township increased steadily. In 1841, its population was 1009; and by 1850, it had reached 3501.[14] By 1891, including the population of Elmira, the Township reached a population of 5907.[15] By the early twentieth century, a wide variety of communities existed throughout the whole of the Township.

Several factors encouraged immigrants to settle in Woolwich Township. For example, it offered ideal farm conditions to settlers who wished to continue an agricultural existence. For this reason, it is not surprising that Mennonite farmers were the primary settlers in the Township. Secondly, Woolwich Township was an attractive source of water-power for industry and milling, with a number of rivers and creeks flowing through the Township, including the Grand River, the Conestoga River, Canagagigue Creek, and Cox's Creek. The rise of early industries in such communities as Elmira and St. Jacobs is an example of water-power forming the nucleus of many early communities.

The first known immigrant to have settled in Woolwich Township was an English military man named Captain Thomas Smith. Until the mid-1830s, little is known about him or his dealings in the area. However, he was a British Loyalist who arrived in the Township from Vermont State as early as 1807,[16] squatting along the east bank of the Grand River on William Wallace's property in the area of Winterbourne.  Smith was the founding member of that community. He established a stage service there by the mid-1830s that ran to Berlin and Preston until about 1850.  George Eby was another early settler. He was a Mennonite from Waterloo Township who settled in Woolwich in 1813. He cleared land on Lot Two of Germany Company land along the Woolwich-Waterloo township line.[17] A short time later, David Cress of Waterloo Township settled in the same locality.[18] Simon Cress and his family, relatives of David, were the first pioneers of the St. Jacobs area in about the same time.[19] He and his family built a log home along the Conestoga River.  In the Conestoga village area, Henry Martin and David Musselman were pioneering settlers.[20] Henry Martin was the son and relative of Peter and David Martin respectively who both came from Pennsylvania and settled on German Company land in Waterloo Township.[21] In 1819-20, with their families, both Peter and David Martin followed Henry into Woolwich Township.[22] They settled in the northwest corner of the Township near the Waterloo-Woolwich line. Reminders of their presence in this area remain to this day, including the names Martin Creek and Martin's Grove.

From the 1830s, the pace of settlement in Woolwich Township increased considerably, and the basis of several of the township's communities developed. Three such communities included Winterbourne, Conestoga, and St. Jacobs, becoming centres of trade, services and worship for farmers from the surrounding areas. Winterbourne was mainly an English and Scottish settlement. As was mentioned earlier, Thomas Smith was its first settler.  Both Presbyterian and Methodist congregations were established there at this time.[23] Winterbourne was also home to the first post office in Woolwich Township.[24] Although the exact date that the post office was first opened is not accurately known, it was opened sometime before 1842 and possibly as early as 1834 with the arrival of its first post master, John Davidson. In the early 1850s, a settler from England, Thomas Lanphier, built a dam across Cox Creek, providing power for both a flour mill and a sawmill.[25]

Conestoga and St. Jacobs were primarily Germanic settlements. The earliest of these settlers were predominantly Mennonite, but later settlers included German Roman Catholics and Lutherans.[26] Conestoga was founded by David Musselman, who purchased land on which the community was founded in 1830. He was the first settler of the area and by 1840 had built a sawmill on Spring Creek. It was the first sawmill of the community and possibly of Woolwich Township.[27] In 1844, he dammed the Conestoga River and built the Township's first flour mill, and his second sawmill.[28] Although it is likely that a number of immigrants settled in Conestoga during the 1830s, little is known otherwise. However, after Musselman established several enterprises there, the community quickly expanded.[29] By 1850, it had reached a population of about 70 and consisted of a grist mill, a sawmill, and a chair factory.[30]

Similarly, St. Jacobs was founded as early as 1830.[31] However, as much as can be determined, little settlement occurred there until the early 1850s. At this time, it was the industrial ventures of Jacob Snider that seemed to encourage the community's rapid but short-term growth. In 1851, Snider built a dam there to power several mills. By 1852, he had in operation a sawmill, a woolen mill, and a flour mill.[32] These mills not only provided employment but also attracted further settlement in the area. In the same year, a number of stores, a cooperage shop, and a post office were opened for business. By 1855, the population had swelled to about 400 inhabitants.[33] By 1857, a formal plan of settlement had been adopted in hope that St. Jacobs would receive railway connection to the Grand Trunk line that arrived in Waterloo County in the mid-1850s.[34] The railway line was not built until 1891, and the village's population remained stable during these years.

Once the phase of early settlement was completed, communities in northern areas of the Township developed apace. Elmira, for example, would later become one of the leading centres of business in Woolwich Township. It was founded as early as 1834 by Edward Bristow (Bristow's Corners).[35] Although some growth took place from this point in time, it remained marginal until 1856 when Elmira was formally laid out for settlement by Joel Good, the major landowning settler of the area.[36] The extent of its earliest growth is not known, but by 1869, it had reached a population of about 450, and in 1891, about 1069.[37] North of Elmira, Floradale was established as a post village for the surrounding rural area.  The earliest industrial development appeared in Floradale in the form of a dam and mill-race by about 1855, and a flour mill and sawmill by about 1860.[38] By the turn of the twentieth century, its population reached 400.

By the time the Grand Trunk Railway arrived in Waterloo County during the mid-1850s, Woolwich Township had developed not extensively, but quite noticeably. However, Woolwich Township was not included along any railway connection until 1891, when a branch of the Grand Trunk was laid from Waterloo to St. Jacobs and Elmira. In 1907, it was also a connection on the Canadian Pacific line running east and west through the township. By the time these railways were laid, the boom of the early railway days had long since past. For this reason, comparable industrial development to that of Waterloo Township and North Dumfries Township was never attained in Woolwich Township. Therefore, it is not surprising that the economic basis of the Township remained primarily agricultural in nature. However, despite being bypassed by the railway boom and large-scale county industrialization, Woolwich remained an important farming centre within Waterloo County. Its blacksmiths, tanners, merchants, hotels, mills, tailors, butchers, and manufacturers provided the township with the material support it required for the continuance of an agricultural existence. The presence of the conservative Old Order Mennonites and other conservative Mennonite groups endured in Woolwich, creating a unique rural character for which the township is still renowned.

Although the Township would continue to grow and develop into the twentieth century, especially the incorporated village of Elmira, in general its development was relatively marginal. Essentially, from the 1860s to the end of the century, the majority of communities in Woolwich Township including Winterbourne, Conestoga, and St. Jacobs had grown none or little at all. For the most part, they remained small trading centres for the surrounding farms. In fact, other than continual growth in Elmira, the population of Woolwich Township remained relatively stable until the middle of the twentieth century.[39] Growth since this time has resulted primarily from Woolwich Township becoming a destination for commuter families to Kitchener-Waterloo and other surrounding industrial centres.

[1] Geoffrey Hayes, Waterloo County: An Illustrated History (St. Jacobs, 1997), 12. See also: "Notes on the Pioneer Days of Woolwich Township," Waterloo Historical Society, (1947), 39.

[2] Martin, 43.

[3] "Notes on the Pioneer Days of Woolwich Township," Waterloo Historical Society, (1947), 39-40. See also: Hayes, 12.

[4] Virgil Emerson Martin, The Early History of Jakobstettel: An Account of the People in and around St. Jacobs, the Beginning of the Twentieth Century, (St. Jacobs Printery Ltd: St. Jacobs, 1979), 32.

[5] Waterloo Township through Two Centuries (St. Jacobs: 1995), 95.

[6] Alan Rayburn, Place Names of Ontario, (University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 1997), 381.  See also: W.J. Wintemberg, "Origin of the Place and Stream Names of Waterloo County, Ontario," Waterloo Historical Society, (1927), 354;  and G.H. Armstrong, The Origin and Meaning of Place Names in Canada,  1st ed. 1930 (Macmillan of Canada: Toronto, 1972), 309.

[7] Hayes, 7.

[8] Hayes, 7; and "Notes on the Pioneer Days of Woolwich Township," Waterloo Historical Society, (1947).

[9] W.V. Uttley, "Woolwich Township-Its Early Settlement," Waterloo Township, (1933), 13.

[10] Martin, 27.  

[11] Martin, 27.

[12] Uttley, 11. See also: L.J. Burkholder, A Brief History of Mennonites in Ontario, (Markham, 1935), 42.

[13] W.H. Smith, Canada: Past, Present and Future, Volume 2, Mika Publishing, Belleville (reprinted, 1974), 115-16.

[14] Smith, 115-16.

[15] Census of Canada, 1890-91, (S.E. Dawson: Ottawa, 1893).

[16] Martin, 27-9.

[17] Parsell, Illustrated Atlas of the County of Waterloo, (1881).

[18] Parsell.

[19] Ezra E. Eby, A Biographical History of Early Settlers and Their Descendants in Waterloo Township, two volumes, 1st ed. (Berlin, 1895, 1896), 2nd ed. Ed. Eldon D. Weber, (1971), 115-16.

[20] Parsell.

[21] Martin, 31.

[22] Martin, 31.

[23] Hayes, 12.

[24] W.H.E. Schmalz, "Postal History of Waterloo County," Waterloo Historical Society, (1968), 71. See also: Uttley, 18.

[25] Hayes, 12.

[26] Martin, 43. 

[27] Martin 43. See also: "Township of Woolwich," Waterloo Historical Society, (1961), 53.

[28] Martin, 43.

[29] Uttley, 16.

[30] Smith, 115.

[31] Martin, 44.

[32] Martin, 44.

[33] Martin, 44.

[34] Martin, 60.

[35] Souvenir of the Elmira Old Boys and Girls Reunion, Souvenir Booklet Committee, (1948), 2. 

[36] Souvenir of the Elmira Old Boys and Girls Reunion, 2.

[37] Province of Ontario Gazetteer and Directory, C.E. Anderson &Co. (1969), 424; and Census of Canada, 1890-91, V.1, (S.E. Dawson: Ottawa, 1893).

[38] Allen D. Martin, "Mills At Floradale-Past and Present," Waterloo Historical Society, (1981), 94.

[39] Martin, 54.

North Woolwich

Previous Name: Sandytown

Located at the junction of present-day Arthur Street North and Sandy Hills Road in Woolwich Township, North Woolwich was the location of a short-lived post office, secured for that area by William Lyon Mackenzie King, the Member of Parliament for Waterloo North in 1908; the post office closed in 1913. A Mennonite meetinghouse, a Baptist church and an Evangelical Association church (later United Church of Canada) were in the area from the 1850s. Nearby Sandytown, also a short lived hamlet, supplied some amenities to residents of the North Woolwich area.


Previous Names: Flora, Leon, Musselman

Although the land on which Floradale is located was purchased in 1808, there was no significant development until the 1850s when Joseph Musselman built a sawmill on the Canagaguige Creek. Located in northern Woolwich Township at the present-day junction of the Floradale Road, Ruggle's Road and Floralpine Road, Floradale was first called Musselman. Subsequent names were Leon and Flora; the name was changed in 1876 to Floradale to avoid confusion with nearby Elora. The village's early development was centered about a dam and millrace on Canagagigue Creek which provided power for a flour mill and sawmill. Other businesses, including a flax mill, a cider mill, a school and a post office (established in 1863) also served the needs of the village and the surrounding rural area. Early churches in Floradale included a Mennonite meetinghouse, a Lutheran church and an Evangelical Association church.

Floradale Flax Mill, ca. 1900

Floradale Flax Mill, ca. 1900.
DHC X.964.313.001

Woolwich Township S.S. No. 5 School

Woolwich Township S.S. No. 5 School,
Floradale, Ontario. X.961.025.001


Previous Names: Bristow's Corners, Upper Woolwich, West Woolwich

Elmira, the urban heart of Woolwich Township was established around 1840 by Edward Bristow; the community had a post office from 1849. Until 1853 the community was called Bristow's Corners; other ephemeral names for the village or its locale were Upper Woolwich and West Woolwich. Settled primarily by emigrants from continental Germany, the village was laid out for settlement by Joel Good, a major land owner in the area. Serving a prosperous farming township, by 1869 Elmira had reached a population of about 450, and in 1891, about 1,069. The Woolwich Agricultural Fair was held in Elmira from 1854, and since 1965 the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival has been an annual springtime attraction for thousands of visitors. From the late nineteenth century, Elmira was served by both the Grand Trunk Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway, spurring growth of Elmira's furniture and other industries and trades. Elmira was incorporated as a town in 1923, and with reorganization of Waterloo County municipalities in 1973, it became the administrative centre of an enlarged Woolwich Township.

Elmira House, ca. 1890

Elmira House, ca. 1890
DHC X.965.761.001.37

Elmira Musical Society Band, ca. 1908

Elmira Musical Society Band, ca. 1908.
DHC X.965.164.002

West Montrose

History of West Montrose

West Montrose was established along the Grand River, in an area encompassing Lots Seventy, Seventy-one, and Seventy-four of the Germany Company survey in Woolwich Township.[1] These lots were purchased from the German Company sometime after 1807: Lot Seventy by Daniel Erb, Lot Seventy-one by David Eby, and Lot Seventy-four by Christian Stauffer.[2] Because settlement in Woolwich Township occurred late, it is not surprising that West Montrose was not settled for a number of decades. In general, it is believed that significant settlement in West Montrose did not begin until about the 1850s. If any amount of settlement did take place before this time, little or nothing is known of its occurrence.

Settlement in West Montrose was preceded by a series of land purchases and exchanges. It appears that Daniel Erb sold a 143 acre portion of Lot Seventy to Alexander Smith in 1835.[3] This portion of land was located in the immediate area of West Montrose and the Grand River. Smith subsequently sold this land to Isaac Swope, a merchant from Pennsylvania, in 1858.[4] When Swope settled in the area, he built a log cabin in which he resided until 1867 when he sold the house and land to Jacob Snider. This house, known as the Swope House, was an historic house in West Montrose. In 1845, John Wissler bought Lot Seventy-four from Christian Stauffer.[5] Wissler subsequently sold the lot to William Veitch in 1848. A section of Veitch's land was later used for the building of the West Montrose school.[6] Jacob Benner also acquired land in the West Montrose area. He eventually acquired ownership of Lot Seventy-one and sections of Lot Seventy-two.[7] In 1843, Benner's name appears on an early road petition of the West Montrose area, suggesting that he owned at least some land in the area at this time.[8] In 1855, Benner sold a 101 acre section of Lot Seventy-two to John Woodward.[9]

One of the earliest known settlers of West Montrose was Andrew L. Anderson. Anderson, a native of Scotland, arrived in the area sometime after 1845.[10] He is believed to have named West Montrose after his hometown Montrose, Scotland. Originally, Anderson named the town Montrose.[11] However, because a Montrose existed near Niagara Falls, West was added to the name for distinction. Although the exact date the community was named is not clearly known, the name Montrose of Woolwich Township appears at least as early as 1861.[12] Apparently, West Montrose was in common use by about 1865.[13]

Jacob Benner, another early settler of West Montrose, was a blacksmith from Waterloo Township. He left Waterloo Township in 1855 [14] and it is likely that he settled in West Montrose at this time. He owned the majority of land in the area, particularly Lot Seventy-one and sections of Seventy-two. In 1858, Benner established a woolen factory on Spring Creek which remained in operation in West Montrose until 1873.[15] This factory was the community's first known industrial venture. By 1861, Benner also ran a steamed-powered sawmill.[16] The community's last known sawmill was discontinued in 1873.[17] Because industrial enterprises were known to have encouraged settlement in communities of Waterloo County, there is no doubt that Benner's industrial enterprises encouraged settlement in the West Montrose area. Moreover, Benner was essentially the largest operator of any industrial enterprise the community would ever see.

As with other eastern areas of Woolwich Township, including Winterbourne, West Montrose was settled by mainly Scottish and English settlers.[18] By 1869, West Montrose had blossomed into a small settlement of about 100 inhabitants.[19] Not only had it become a post village for the surrounding areas of Woolwich Township, but also a small centre of trade for local farmers. West Montrose received its first post office in 1866, managed by its first post master J.B. Kilbourne.[20] Including Benner's woolen mill, the community consisted of a lumber yard, a gunsmith, a carpenter, a hotel and keeper, a stock dealer, a post office, a general merchant, several coopers, and a minister.[21] Although Benner's woolen factory and the community's last sawmill had closed for good by 1873, a smelting works remained in operation.[22] Although West Montrose retained some small scale industry and reached a population of about 200 by 1890, as early as 1906, its population had dwindled to about 50 residents.[23] At this time, its businesses essentially included no more than a blacksmith, a chopping mill, a mason, a cooper, and a general store. Bypassed by the railway and main lines of transportation, for the most part, West Montrose remained a small centre.

Like other communities of Woolwich Township, West Montrose did not take part in the early railway boom of the 1850s and 1860s that other communities of Waterloo County had. In fact, West Montrose did not even receive railway connection until 1907. This line was part of the Canadian Pacific track that passed east and west about half mile north of the village. A station was built in this area which became known as West Montrose Station. This station was used locally, mainly as a shipping centre for the farm produce of farmers in the area.[24]

The first school of West Montrose began sometime before 1865.[25] It was a one room stone school located about one mile west of the community along Elmira Road. In 1865, a new stone school was built. Children of both the community and surrounding areas attended the school which averaged an attendance of about 100 students annually.[26] However, because the school was located on the village flats, it was subjected to the annual spring flooding of the Grand River which posed obvious problems.[27] Consequently, in 1874, another stone school was built just east of the community in an area known as Zuber Corners. It was founded on land purchased from William Veitch for this purpose. It was a two room school which, depending upon attendance, used one or both rooms for lessons.[28] The school remained open until 1967.

The earliest church congregation in West Montrose was the United Brethren. Apparently, the first services were held as early as 1857 in the blacksmith shop of Jacob Benner.[29] It is believed that a number of denominations within the community were comprised within the congregation including Methodists, Baptists, and Mennonites. In 1862, the first United Brethren church was built and opened.[30] It later became part of the United Church of Canada in 1925. As with many small rural churches, the West Montrose congregation shared a circuit preacher among the communities of Woolwich Township and Waterloo County including Bloomingdale, Hawksville, and Breslau.[31]

The covered bridge of West Montrose was built in 1881. It is known locally as the "Kissing Bridge" (because it is also good "cover" for kissing couples). It was constructed at the request of Woolwich Township Council after an inspection of several bridges in Woolwich Township, including the one in West Montrose, was undertaken by John Bear.[32] He concluded that the present bridge of West Montrose would have to be replaced.  The earlier bridge across the Grand River at West Montrose may have been present as early as 1843.  (When a petition was presented to local authorities by the land owning people of the area in 1844, mention was made of a road, by crossing the Grand River in the West Montrose area, which made its way to Elora of Pilkington's Township.[33] Therefore, it might be assumed that a bridge may have existed at this time.)  Although in recent years the West Montrose covered bridge has been restored, it has lasted for well over a century. Although it is still used locally, in 1959, a new concrete bridge was built a short distance up the Grand River in the construction of Highway 86 to Elmira.

West Montrose Covered Bridge in 1924

West Montrose Covered Bridge, 1924.
DHC 2002.928.005 "The Old Roads"

[1] G.M. Tremaine, "Maps of the County of Waterloo," (1861). See also: L.J. Burkholder, A Brief History of Mennonites in Ontario, (Markham, 1935), 42. See also: Parsell, Illustrated Atlas of the County of Waterloo, (1881).

[2] Buckholder, 26.

[3] Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee (LACAC), "First Woolwich Heritage Tour," (1987).

[4] LACAC, "First Woolwich Heritage Tour."

[5] Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee (LACAC), "School Section #6, West Montrose," (June, 1987), 2. 
[6] LALAC, 2.

[7] Jacob Stroh, "Reminiscences of Berlin," Waterloo Historical Society, (1930), 183. See also: A.W. Devitt, "West Montrose and District," Waterloo Historical Society, (1946), 22.

[8] Eleventh Session, No. 26. August, 14, (1944).

[9] Devitt, 22.

[10] Scarlett E. Janusas, An Archaeological Perspective of an Historic Overview of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, (Regional Municipality of Waterloo Planning and Development Department, Archaeology Division: 1988), 80.

[11] Alan Rayburn, Place Names of Ontario, (University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 1997), 369.  See also: W.J. Wintemberg, "Origin of the Place and Stream Names of Waterloo County, Ontario," Waterloo Historical Society, (1927), 371.

[12] Tremaine.

[13] Wintemberg, 371. See also: Rayburn, 369.

[14] Jacob Stroh, 183.

[15] Pearce, 37; and E.W.B. Snider, "Waterloo County Forests and Primitive Economic," Waterloo Historical Society, (1918), 19, 30.

[16] Tremaine.

[17] Devitt, 23.

[18] W.V. Uttley, "Woolwich Township-Its Early Settlement," Waterloo Township, (1933), 19.

[19] Province of Ontario Gazetteer and Directory, C.E. Anderson &Co. (1969), 563.

[20] W.H.E. Schmalz, "Postal History of Waterloo County," Waterloo Historical Society, (1968), 71.  Devitt says the post office first opened in 1856. However, one would be inclined to agree with Schmalz's date since it seems that West Montrose had hardly been founded by 1856.

[21] Province of Ontario Gazetteer and Directory, 563.

[22] Lovell's Gazetteer of British North America, ed. P.A. Crossby, (John Lovell & Sons: Montreal, 1874), 355.

[23] Elizabeth Macnaughton, Tailors and Tailoring in Rural Waterloo County, 1900-1914, Historic Sites Department: Doon Heritage Crossroads, 1986, 3; and Bradstreet's Book of Commercial Ratings, (Bradstreet Company: New York, 1906), 458.

[24] Devitt, 23.

[25] LACAC, 4.

[26] LACAC, 5.

[27] LACAC, 4-5.

[28] LACAC, 5.

[29] C.D. Bowman, "Reminiscences of the West Montrose Church," Waterloo Historical Society, (1946), 18-20.

[30] Elizabeth Hardin, Loyalty in Things Spiritual, (Doon Heritage Crossroads: Kitchener, 2001), 33, 34.

[31] Bowman, 18-20. For examples, see the annual reports of: Branch Missionary Society of the United Brethren in Christ of the Canada Conference.

[32] See Kathryn Lamb, West Montrose Covered Bridge," Waterloo Historical Society, (1977).

[33] Eleventh Session, No. 26. August, 14, (1844).

West Montrose Station
The West Montrose area of Woolwich Township was connected to a line of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1906. The line ran east and west about half mile north of the village, passing through Elmira and Linwood on its way from Guelph to Goderich. The West Montrose Station was a shipping centre for agricultural produce.
Zuber Corners
Located slightly to the east of West Montrose at the intersection of present-day Line 86 and Zuber Road in Woolwich Township, Zuber Corners was the locale of a stone school built in 1874 to replace the one at West Montrose which was subjected to yearly flooding. The school remained open until 1967.
Jerusalem Corners

A locality in rural Woolwich Township south-east of Elmira, Jerusalem Corners was situated at the intersection of present-day Jerusalem Road and Scotch Line Road. It was also referred to as Jerusalem and the Jerusalem section.

A hamlet at the junction of present-day Weissenberg Road and Line 86, Weissenburg was located eight miles west of Guelph. With its two hotels and its blacksmith shop, the crossroads settlement was a stopping off point for farmers and others hauling goods from Woolwich Township to Guelph.

Previous Names: Cox's Creek, East Woolwich, Lower Woolwich P.O., Woolwich

Originally known as Cox's Creek, East Woolwich and Lower Woolwich P.O., the name of this village officially changed to Winterbourne when its post office received that name in 1859. It was named after the English home of the landowner, William Lanphier, on whose land the village developed; several other early settlers in the district were from Scotland. In 1854, Lanphier dammed Cox's Creek, where he established a saw mill and a grist mill and, the following year, had his property surveyed into building lots. The village grew around the mills, with a post office, general store, hotel and other amenities. Presbyterian and Methodist churches were established by the first settlers. Winterbourne is located on present-day Katherine Street North in Woolwich Township on the east side of the Grand River.

Three Bridges

A locality in Woolwich Township on the present-day Hawkesville Road and Three Bridges Road where the road passed over an islet in the Conestogo River. The Three Bridges School and a Mennonite meetinghouse were located here.

group of people at Three Bridges School, ca. 1925

Three Bridges School, ca. 1925. DHC Research Files.

bridges over the river in 1944

Three Bridges, Waterloo County Scenic Calendar, 1944 DHC 2004.020.006

St. Jacobs

Previous Name: Jacobstettel

St. Jacobs on the Conestoga River in Woolwich Township was settled as early as 1830. However, little development occurred there until the early 1850s. At this time, it was the industrial ventures of Jacob Snider that encouraged the community's initial growth. The village was first named Jacobstettel in honour of him; it was later named St. Jacobs, the "St." added "for the sake of euphony." In 1851 Snider built a dam that provided power for several mills. By 1852, he had in operation a saw mill, a woolen mill, and a flour mill. These mills not only provided employment but also attracted further settlement in the area. In 1852, a number of stores, a cooperage shop, and a post office were established. By 1855, the population had risen to about 400 inhabitants. By 1857, a formal plan of settlement had been adopted in hopes that St. Jacobs would receive railway connection to the Grand Trunk Railway line that had arrived in Waterloo County in 1856; a G.T.R. connector line was not built until 1891, slowing the growth of the village. The flour mill was purchased by E.W.B. Snider in 1871; Snider was one of the principal promoters of hydro-electricity in Ontario and was active in politics and in other milling operations in Waterloo County. St. Jacobs remained a mostly rural village with the Snider mill at its centre and providing the usual amenities until its boom as a tourist destination in the later twentieth century.

Fair Day at St. Jacobs on postcard 1910

Fair Day at St. Jacobs, Ont. Postcard, 1910.
DHC 980.023.013.4

group of people at Canada Felting Co. Ltd. in 1939

Canada Felting Co. Ltd., St. Jacobs, Ontario, 1939
DHC 970.102.044


Straddling the township line between Wellesley and Woolwich Townships, Heidelberg is situated at the intersection of Kressler Road (the township line) and Lobsinger Line. A small hamlet named after the German university town, Heidelberg was a predominantly Germanic rural crossroads community with Lutheran and an Evangelical Association churches, a school, hotels, as well as trades and services serving the surrounding farming community. It obtained a post office in 1854. Around 1900, a cheese factory making limburger cheese put Heidelberg on the culinary map.

people at Steiss Cheese Factory in 1905

Steiss Cheese Factory, Heidelberg, Ontario,
ca. 1905. DHC Research Files.

class at school on Heidleberg Road, S.S. No. 2 in 1932

School on the Heidelberg Road, S.S. No. 2, 1932.
DHC Research Files.

Heidelberg Station
Heidelberg Station was a flag stop on the Grand Trunk Railway line joining Waterloo to Elmira, built in 1891. It was situated just north of the Woolwich Township line, where the railway line crosses present-day King Street at the St. Jacobs Farmers' Markets. It was about 5 km. south east of the village of Heidelberg.
Wagner's Corners

Previous Names: Buehler's Corners, Wakeford Corners

Located in Woolwich Township at the junction of roads leading to St. Jacobs, Heidelberg, and Waterloo, Wagner's Corners was formerly known as Wakeford Corners and later Buehler's Corners (the latter after the family who had a property at the corner). It was an area settled by Pennsylvania-German Mennonites in the 1830s. Although there were a blacksmith shop and a sawmill to the west along the Heidelberg Road, there was no real settlement at the corners.

Mr. and Mrs. Abe Buehler at Wagner's Corner in 1912

Mr. and Mrs. Abe Buehler at Wagner's Corners, 1912.
DHC Research Files.

Wagner's Corner, ca. 1960

Wagner's Corners, ca. 1960.
The Record Photo Collection, University of Waterloo


Previous Names: Bluckstettel, Conestoga, Musselman's Mills

Conestogo was founded by David Musselman, who purchased the land on which the community was founded in 1830. He was the first settler of the area and by 1840 had built a sawmill on Spring Creek, the first of the community and possibly of Woolwich Township. In 1844, he dammed the Conestoga River and built the township's first flour mill, and his second sawmill. After Musselman established his enterprises there, the community quickly expanded. A post office was established in 1852. In the 1850s, the village had reached a population of about 70 and consisted of a grist mill, a sawmill, and a chair factory. A survey plan of the village was drawn in 1856. Originally spelled Conestoga, the village's name was altered to Conestogo circa 1865 by its Postmaster. Another early name for the community was Bluckstettel ("Log Village", in reference to the many log homes there); the name is still in use among Old Order Mennonites. The village continued to grow and to support the surrounding farm community and its own inhabitants' needs, although its population declined from 500 in 1890 to 250 in 1913, reflecting a trend toward rural depopulation over those years.

Main St. Conestoga on postcard 1914

Postcard, Main St., Conestogo Ontario, 1914.
DHC 986.041.002

group of people at Conestogo Methodist Church Epworth League, ca. 1910

Conestogo Methodist Church Epworth League,
ca. 1910. DHC 2002.926.003