Established in 1865, The Waldie Blacksmith Shop operated until the 1970s. In 2003, following an extensive renovation by Milton Historical Society, it re-opened. The Province of Ontario has formally designated the Shop as a historical building of note. Today, it features a fully functioning blacksmith shop, offering demonstrations and blacksmith education all year round, as well as more than 1,000 related artifacts. The Shop is also home to Milton Historical Society and the Alex Cooke-Jim Dills Archives, which features more than 100,000 historical documents and the Carriage Room, which hosts regular meetings on local history and is also available for rental purposes by the general public. The Shop is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon between March and November. It is open anytime for guided tours for schoolchildren and adult groups. The Society also has a speakers bureau of individuals who make presentations about local history to organized groups, at no charge. The Society has more than a dozen published books of local history that are available for sale.
The Waldie Blacksmith Shop
- 16 James Street, Milton, ON, Canada
- Wednesdays and Saturdays, 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. (on August 7 and later, assuming Ontario Emergency Order is lifted by that time)
- Guided Tour
- Wheelchair Access
- The Milton we know today was originally named Martin’s Mills between 1830 and 1837. It was renamed Milton in 1837 for English poet John Milton (1608 – 1674).
- Milton’s first Post Office opened in 1836. George Brown (1808 – 1860) served as its first Postmaster. He was Halton’s first treasurer and later served as Milton’s first mayor.
- William Lyon Mackenzie (1795 – 1861), who led the 1837 Rebellion in Upper Canada, made his escape shortly afterwards through southern Milton on his way to exile in the United States.
- Milton’s Main Street was officially established in 1843 through a bylaw enacted by the District of Gore Council. Half its width was “given” by the landowner on each side between Ontario and Bronte St. “Given” sections were later added to the fifth line.
- The earliest residences built in Milton date back to the 1840s. They were all constructed of wood. In the 1850s, limestone block was introduced to residential construction, locally. Towards the end of the 19th Century, pressed clay brick became available as an option for home builders to finish the exteriors of local homes. Earlier brick had been farm-made.
- Milton’s first church, Auld Kirk Presbyterian Church, was established in 1846 on the site of what is now 62 Main Street East.
- Milton’s first brick school house was constructed in 1848 by the District of Gore near the north west corner of Main and Ontario streets.
- With the establishment of the County of Halton in 1853, it was legislated that Milton would be the seat of County government. Thus, Milton hosted the court, the jail and the registry and administration offices — making it the County Town until the introduction of Regional government in 1974.
- The Milton Fall Fair commenced in 1853 with the establishment of Halton Agricultural Society. The Milton Fairgrounds opened in 1864 with the purchase of property on Robert Street. The Society’s first hall was constructed on the grounds that same year. Through the purchase of adjacent property, it was expanded to the size it is today.
- Milton Mechanics Institute, the forerunner of Milton Public Library, was established in 1855. Within two years, it had a membership of 56 citizens and a book circulation of 262.
- The Halton Journal, established in 1855, was the first newspaper to serve the community. The Canadian Champion established operations locally in 1861.
- The Corporation of the Town of Milton was formally established as an incorporated town in July1857.
- St. Clair Masonic Lodge was formed in Milton in 1860. The Lodge remains in existence today and meets regularly on Regional Road 25, just north of the old hamlet of Boyne, in the former Bowes Church.
- Milton’s first telegraph office opened in November 1866.
- Milton’s first bank opened for business in 1877 with the establishment of the Bank of Hamilton, which later became the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.
- The Hamilton and Northwestern Railway, now the Canadian National Railway, opened in 1877.
- The Credit Valley Railway, now the Canadian Pacific Railway, opened two years later in 1879. The Governor-General of Canada presided over the official opening. The opening of the Credit Valley Railway enabled Milton residents to visit Toronto and attend such major events as the Canadian National Exhibition.
- Water was first piped into Milton homes in 1888. The water system was installed primarily as a fire protection measure following several major fires and in preference to a steam engine.
- Electricity was introduced to Milton streets in 1891 with the installation of 15 street lights. The Town of Milton began operating the service in 1906 until power was delivered by the Ontario Hydro Power Commission in 1913.
- Milton’s first telephone exchange was established in 1893 at Higginbotham’s Drug Store on Main Street, with 15 subscribers.
- The sidewalks along Main Street were made of wood until 1899, when the first cement sidewalk was installed on Brown Street to the County Courthouse. Cement sidewalks were installed on Main Street in 1903.
- Milton’s first bus service was operated by Robert B. Anderson’s Livery Service at the beginning of the 20th Century to at least the beginning of World War 1, moving customers by horse between Milton and Milton Heights, Speyside, Hornby, Lowville, Drumquin and Omagh. The service was located at 167-171 Main Street East.
- Milton’s longest-running employer, The P.L. Robertson Company, was established in 1908, partly as a result of a $10,000 loan provided by the Milton Council of the day. Within a year, employment at the factory on Bronte Street had increased to 85 from 21. At its peak, the factory employed more than 600 local workers. The P.L. Robertson Company still manufactures the now world-famous Canadian invention – the socket head screw and screw driver.
- The first automobiles began to arrive in Milton about 1910. A novelty, they were featured in local parades but largely disappeared during the Winter when roads were more accommodating for sleighs.
- T.D. Hume opened Milton’s first moving picture theatre, the Princess Theatre, in 1912.
- Main Street received its first cement base in 1913 from Brown St. to the bridge of Sixteen-Mile Creek.
- Construction of Milton’s municipal sewage system was begun in 1948. The system became operational in 1950.
- The Town of Milton agreed to operate a three-man police force in 1951.
- Local houses and businesses were first given street numbers in 1954.
- Milton’s first traffic signal was installed in 1956 at the corner of Main and Martin Streets.
- The Milton section of Highway 401 was completed in 1959.
- Sunday sports were approved in 1961 in a plebiscite, but movies were refused.
- The showing of movies on Sunday was approved by Milton ratepayers in 1966.
- Letter carrier service to homes and businesses in Milton began in 1967.
16 James Street, Milton, ON, Canada
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