Trafalgar Township Historical Society
"Documenting, celebrating and preserving the agricultural heritage of North Oakville"

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From the Oakville Beaver
February 16, 2008

Feb 16, 2008

All of the community we now know as Oakville was once Trafalgar Township. Trafalgar Township's boundaries stretched from Lake Ontario to Steeles Avenue and from Winston Churchill to Burloak Drive

Settlement in the area began after the lands from the Mississauga Purchase were surveyed and made available to settlers in 1806. The area was named Trafalgar Township, in honour of the defeat of the Spanish and French fleets by the British at the Battle of Trafalgar. At this time Bronte and Oakville were still aboriginal land and not purchased until 1827. The 1806 Wilmot survey of Trafalgar Twp. shows 162 lots with a settler assigned, 10 lots unassigned on aboriginal land, and 21 as clergy/crown land. Trafalgar was unique in that the government had learned its lesson and did not assign any of the clergy land along Dundas to ensure that the road was cleared quickly by the first settlers.

Many of the early settlers were United Empire Loyalists who were loyal to the Crown. Some of these settlers traveled together from the United States as groups. In many instances women and children were forced out of their homes and walked North to Canada to connect with their husbands in Upper Canada forts. There are many stories of Trafalgar families and the hardships they endured to come to Upper Canada and the challenges they faced once they arrived on their land grant. Trafalgar was a wilderness and Dundas only a military trail when they arrived. Most settlers came with only a cow, a yoke of oxen, a log chain and an axe. They were only able to manage to clear about 5 acres a year.

We know that by 1817 when inhabitants of Trafalgar Twp. gathered at Munn's Inn on Dundas to report to the government on the state of the Township there were only 20 farms for sale at the time; the rest being occupied, there were schools, blacksmiths and mills, and the "mouth of the Sixteen, where it empties into lake Ontario, is navigable for vessels of a considerable burden, and forms a safe and commodious harbour." Other early records including diaries, written reports and letters tell us many more stories about the early life and some of the amazing accomplishments of the residents of Trafalgar Twp.

The early settlers settled on 200 acre lots and were required to erect a home (normally a log cabin), clear their portion of Dundas and clear a certain number of acres to complete their settlement duties. The first lots went from Lake Ontario to Brittania Road. Many of our roads in Oakville today still reflect the original land grants and you can see them clearly above Dundas if you look on an aerial map. For instance Daniel Munn's land grant of 200 acres was bordered by Dundas, Sixth Line and Upper Middle Rd.. The Eastern boundary lines up with Oakmead Blvd. Daniel settled on this land in 1806, he ran an Inn for the stage coach along Dundas and donated the land for Munn's Cemetery and his son donated the land on the north side of Dundas for what is now Munn's United Church. Nothing remains of Munn's Corners now except the creek, the cemetery & the church.

Most of the early flourishing villages that sprung up well before Olde Oakville was laid out and were within present day Oakville boundaries are gone. Very little remains of Ash, Glenorchy, Snyders Corners, Palermo, Munn's Corners, Postville, Merton, Sheridan, and Sixteen Village/Proudfoot Hollow.

Trafalgar Twp ceased to exist with it's amalgamation with the Town of Oakville Oakville in 1962. However it continues to be represented and remembered by the many families who descend from the first settlers who still call Trafalgar home: The Kaittings, Inglehardts, Featherstones, Fords, Biggars, Fish and Posts and more.

The Trafalgar Township Historical Society was established in January 2006 . It was founded on the work of the Trafalgar 200 Committee, that held a celebration for the 200th anniversary of the township. Our focus is on the area above the QEW and south of Lower Base Line Rd.

The four main goals of the Historical Society are to
  • Educate-the community about our rich history
  • Document- photos and oral histories
  • Preserve-historical buildings and landmarks
  • Celebrate- the lives of our early settlers

    Members of the society include area residents, historians, genealogists, librarians, members of historical societies, writers, descendents of original settlers, representatives of local churches and history buffs.

    Going forward, the Trafalgar Township Historical Society plans to establish a working schoolhouse museum at the old Palermo school , that will be home to our archives and research facility. We are presently working at restoring this building. If you have any old desks or one room schoolhouse items we would love to add them to our collection.We are also photographing and researching local buildings, scanning historical photos, collecting stories of one room schoolhouses and collecting documents for our archives at member get-togethers. Our Annual Family Heritage Day Celebration is held in September each year at the one-room schoolhouse on the north side of Dundas, just east of Bronte Road, at 2431 Dundas Street West. Come join us. Contact Secretary Michelle Knoll 905-257-9080