Pioneer Settlement:
Arran Township

Pioneer Settlement in Arran Township was encouraged through the offer of inexpensive land for sale, but the offer of free land was another enticement offered elsewhere.

On July 30, 1852 an announcement by the Canadian Colonial Government had a dramatic effect on this region. This proclamation stated that uncleared land in Bruce County would be sold to prospective settlers for a mere 10 shillings an acre. 

The majority of this available land was located in the area which would become Arran Township. The survey for pioneer settlement in Arran Township had only been completed the previous year, 1851. It seems that even the survey crew had been impressed, not only by the cheap cost of the land, but also by the potential of the area. Two members of the survey team, George Gould and Richard Berford, both took up plots of land in the area. 

Berford, and his partner, John Hamilton, Sr., settled on plots where the village of Tara is now located. Meanwhile, Gould and J.W. Linton, cleared property on the current site of Invermay. 

The proclamation of 1852 setting the price of land at 10 shillings an acre led to an influx of settlers almost immediately. They were not the first to arrive in Arran Township. The previous year, soon after the region had been surveyed, there had been others who joined Berford, Gould, Linton and Hamilton in settling the area. 

Archibald Roy had settled in the area where Burgoyne now stands. Others to precede the proclamation included Francis Griffith, Mathew McAuley and W. D. Marmion whose son would be the first non-native child born in the township. 

Besides the cheap cost of land there was another factor which helped increase the numbers of pioneer settlers in Arran Township. 

In 1852 the Owen Sound to Saugeen Road was completed. This new thoroughfare as well as the Elora Road meant that most of the township was easily accessible by "good" roads. 

Evidence of the rapid growth of pioneer settlement in Arran Township can be seen from the first levy of taxes in the new township in 1853. The taxes totaled 55 pounds, 6 shillings, 9d. The new township was joined with Elderslie and the first reeve was Richard Berford.

The 1861 census revealed that there were 2,551 residents in Arran Township. Ten years later, the 1871 census illustrated that the population had reached 3,780. 

George Gould was named the first postmaster in Arran Township in 1853. 

One of the first churches to be built in the area was a Presbyterian Church on Concession 8. Unfortunately, this place of worship, a frame structure built by Adam Hogg, was destroyed by high winds in its first year of operation. 

Arran Township experienced great growth during its first few decades. Unfortunately, after 1871 its population growth experienced stagnation and then decline. Perhaps one of the reasons for Arran Township's decline in population was the same as what had enticed settlers to this Bruce County township, free, or inexpensive, land. 

Around 1900 western Canada was being opened to settlement and the lure was free, or cheap land. Because of this attraction countless residents of Grey and Bruce pulled up stakes and headed west to homestead on the Canadian prairies. 

The information used in this article came from many sources. However, early editions of the Owen Sound Sun Times were of primary importance. 

A version of this article 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.