Mildmay Ontario 

Mildmay Ontario overcame competition from other communities to claim its spot in Carrick Township on an important settlement route to the Lake Huron shoreline.


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The Great Lakes Raconteur

I have often written about the competition between communities such as Owen Sound, Wiarton, and Collingwood for prominence as maritime commercial centres. Not surprisingly, similar rivalries have occurred in other areas of this region. 

Community pride, the determination of citizens, geographic factors and sometimes just plain luck have played a large role in one community usurping another in the quest for economic and political success. 

In our travels throughout Grey and Bruce we have discovered many interesting places. One community which we enjoy visiting is Mildmay in Carrick Township. 

This picturesque community boasts a long and successful history, but at one time it was not the major settlement in Carrick Township. That honour fell to the village of Balaclava. 

The first tavern in the township was located in Balaclava by John Shennan. It was here that the first Carrick township meeting was held in 1856. 

Shennan was the area's first postmaster. However, the post office which began in 1856, was called Glenlyon, not Balaclava. 

From its inception Balaclava seemed destined for success. Not long after the first settlers arrived a Presbyterian church was built under the auspices of a sister church in Mount Forest. 

Township elections were held here, and most of the municipalty's official business was carried out in that community. The bustling village grew to a population of about 150 and the future looked bright. 

However, in 1867 Charles Merner founded a community in Carrick Township which would one day usurp Balaclava in its role as the major community in that locale. 

The new settlement was called Mernersville. A year later a post office was established, and it was named Mildmay which became the official name of the village. 

Mildmay Ontario was located in a region of the township which had plenty of good fresh water. 

A grist mill had operated in the area since the 1850s. In the 1860s Samuel Carr had built a sawmill in the community. Soon there was a blacksmith's shop, a tavern and several other businesses.

Its location on the Elora Road was also a boon to Mildmay. This road was the main settlement road for settlers coming to Bruce County. Businesses were established to cater to the needs of those who travelled through Mildmay Ontario. Inns and taverns provided a warm room, food and beverage for travelling weary pioneers. General stores emerged, their shelves holding the supplies that new homesteaders would need to sustain themselves. 

All of these circumstances which led to the rapid growth and development of Mildmay also were contributing factors when the railway was built through the area and that the community was selected as a railway depot. 

Although it never grew large enough to challenge the neighboring community of Walkerton, Mildmay has enjoyed success as Carrick Township's centre of economic and political life. 

Today, Mildmay is a picturesque village, still providing the essentials for the surrounding rural area. Stately older residences and new suburban style homes line its streets. The well-kept farms which dot the landscape of rolling hills and forests suggest to the traveller that the region is prosperous. 

Unfortunately, in the development of a region there are winners and losers. Some communities are successful in their aspirations for development while others lag and become footnotes in history. 

Mildmay Ontario is one of those success stories in Bruce County. The next time that you are out for a drive in Grey and Bruce counties visit the rolling hills of Carrick. In that area you can see historic buildings along side modern establishments. 

Some of the information used in this article came from Norman Robertson's History of the County of Bruce. Although the book was written many decades ago it still provides a wonderful insight into the origins of Bruce County communities like Mildmay.

A version of this story first appeared in my Local History column in the Owen Sound Sun Times.

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Bruce County History

Bruce County history is rich with stories about the development of communities along the Lake Huron shoreline and shaped by memorable events and the people.

The "Battleship By-Election" was the result of a debate that embroiled all of Canada but was settled in a rural region of southwestern Ontario prior to the First World War.

Bruce Road 3: A Colonization Road linked prospective settlers to undeveloped Crown Lands and a new life.

British Peerage a Source for Township Names. It is interesting to check the origin of the names bestowed on pioneer places such as towns, townships and counties.

Chesley Ontario Welcomes the Krug Brothers who were looking for a place to make their future and their fortune. They were not only successful, but they made significant contributions to the social fabric of their adopted home town.

Billy Crawford: Pioneering Spirit Personified. If you take the time to consider the people you have met during your life you too may know or have known, someone with pioneering spirit just like Billy Crawford.

Frozen Rivers & Lakes can be Hazardous: Icy waterways offer many benefits such as ice fishing, but beware weak, or thin ice is not easily detected and can spell disaster.

Kincardine Ontario's First Settlers using a bit of savvy and some luck created a future for themselves and their families on the Lake Huron shoreline.

The Krug Impact on Chesley Ontario was immense not only in terms of the community's social fabric but with regards to community's economic growth.

Wilfrid Laurier: Despite the town's best efforts to make Wilfrid Laurier's visit a memorable occasion, it would be clouds of dust that would remind the Prime Minister of  the Lake Huron community.

Mildmay Ontario overcame competition from other communities to claim its spot in Carrick Township on an important settlement route to the Lake Huron shoreline.

Pioneer Diaries provide Interesting Information about many topics, but sometimes information about the weather can be quite surprising!

The pioneer settlement in Arran Township was completed in 1851. The survey crew had been impressed, by the cheap cost and the potential of the land, that two members of the team, George Gould and Richard Berford, took up plots of land. 

Port Elgin Ontario Started with a Storm. A ship forced to seek refuge from Lake Huron's stormy wrath signalled to one man the idea of starting a new community.

Southampton's early history was a time of identity crisis, and with a connection to an early Arctic mystery story. 

Southampton Ontario Suffered a Major Fire in 1886: The havoc was created by a furious high wind storm that spread the flames over much of the town.

Tara Ontario's Mill Started the Village Economy and with the entrepreneurial and inventive genius of one man the community prospered!

Walkerton Ontario: The Beginning of this Bruce County town is the result of the drive and determination of one man, Joseph Walker.