Ceylon Ontario:
How it Got its Name  

Ceylon Ontario: How it Got its Name: It is always interesting how a community got its name, but I doubt any place received its name from a more unique source!

How a community received its official name was often a simple matter. 

The name selected was often in honour of a prominent person. 

Other communities were named after the hometown of one or more of the citizens of the area. Sometimes communities received their names due to local geographic feature. But one community in Grey was named in a unique manner. 

In 1866 Francis Hamilton owned Lot 151, Concession 3 Southwest of the Toronto and Sydenham Road (now Highway 10), south of Highway 4 (now Grey County Road 4). A survey of this region was commissioned in 1873 and the new community was named Virginia. 

A year later, in 1874, Jane Latimer commissioned a survey in the area north of Highway 4 on Lot 150, Concession 3, Southwest of the Toronto and Sydenham Road. Jane and her husband Walter Latimer had settled on the lot in 1854. Walter died that year and his wife named the community that was surveyed Walterville in honour of her late husband. 

Perhaps the reason for the flurry of surveying and the laying of plots was the arrival of a railway line. The railway brought land speculators to the area and spelled the beginning of residential and commercial growth. 

In 1876 the community welcomed its first post office. This occasion brought more confusion with regard to the name of the community, since the post office took the name Flesherton Station. Citizens of the area now could say that they lived in Walterville or Virginia, but their mail had to be addressed to Flesherton Station. 

Despite the confusion created by its three names, the community experienced dramatic growth. Several blacksmith's shops were opened as well as a woodworking shop. A branch of the Merchants Bank set up in the area, but only maintained office hours two days of the week. 

Because the surrounding area was heavily wooded, the lumbering industry was booming. There were at least three sawmills in the area and when Durham Furniture started operations, they became a major purchaser of wood. 

All this commercial and residential growth, combined with three place names for the same area, led to much confusion in the local post office. As well, the name Flesherton Station was constantly being confused with the nearby village of Flesherton. At this point the post office decided to take steps to end the confusion. 

The Name was in the "Bag"

In 1898 an inspector from the Post Office visited the local post office which was located in a small general store in Walterville. As the inspector discussed the problem with the local postmaster, his eyes scanned the shelves of goods that were for sale in the store. At one point one product in particular caught his attention. 

It was bag of tea. The label said the pound of tea was from Ceylon. The decision was made. The post office would be called Ceylon. 

Whether this story is completely correct we may never know. But one thing is for certain - the small Grey County community of Ceylon certainly has an interesting story in terms of how it received its name! 

The information used in this article came from the Grey County Archives.

A version of this story first appeared in my Local History column in the Owen Sound Sun Times on June 29, 2001.

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