Take a step back in time. Conservation Halton’s parks contain rich and fascinating history waiting for you to discover. Whether it’s exploring a reconstructed 15th century Iroquoian village, or viewing some of the best persevered historic lime kilns in Ontario, you’ll feel a connection to local history. You can even spend time walking paths where “no one” has lived for generations. You are sure to come away with a new appreciation for the families and individuals that have helped make our parks the treasures they are today.
We acknowledge that we are in the traditional territory of the Wendat, Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, Attawanderon and Metis people. We also acknowledge that these lands are the treaty lands of the Mississauga’s of the New Credit First Nation.
15th Century Reconstructed Iroquoian Village
The University of Western Ontario and the Museum of Ontario Archaeology first excavated the Crawford Lake site between 1972 and 1987 under the supervision of Dr. William Finlayson. During that time, the remains of 11 longhouses and a number of features and artifacts were uncovered. Between 2013 and 2017, AMEC Foster-Wheeler has continued the excavations and revealed the remains of another longhouse and several more artifacts. It has been concluded that the site has seen 2 periods of occupation over a span of approximately 200-300 years. The modern reconstruction of the village represents the second occupation period dated between 1436 and 1457 and home to people who were possibly ancestors of the Wendat. The village likely had 5 longhouses and an estimated population of about 250 people.
Crawford Family Cottage Remains
George Crawford moved to the Campbellville area with his 8 sisters and mother from Scotland in 1818. The following year, George’s father, Andrew, joined the family and received a Crown grant of 100 acres next to his son’s 200 acres. George and his wife Esther had 11 children. In 1889, George’s son Murray established a saw mill in Campbellville (the buildings can still be seen south of the intersection of Guelph Line and Campbell Ave. in the town of Campbellville). Murray was on the lookout for a commercial logging area and he eventually bought the 200 acres, including the lake. At this location, the Crawford’s built a large summer cottage in 1899, which served the family for many years. By 1963, Murray’s grandson had taken over the mill/business and he (Murray Mahon) decided to sell the land to Conservation Halton in the 1969. The remains of the cottage front porch can still be seen beside Crawford Lake.
The Howard Farm
In 1903, William Howard purchased 50 acres of land near what is now known as the Nassagaweya Canyon. In 1906, Howard purchased a further 100 acres from Henry Stingle. Stingle had owned the land since 1845 and – as a carpenter – built wooden furniture, including coffins, for the locals in the area. (The remains of the Stingle bank barn and outbuildings can still be viewed along the bypass trail between the Snowshoe and Nassagaweya Canyon trails). This land was split in 1913, when William sold 100 acres to his son Nelson and 50 acres to his son Jack. In 1918, Nelson ended up taking over his brother’s 50 acres. Nelson’s son, Tom, took over the farm in 1945. In 1971, Tom sold the property to Conservation Halton. Not much remains of the Howard family farm. The Crawford Lake Visitor Centre is built on the location of the Howard farm house and the Wolf Clan Longhouse is now located where the Howard barn once stood. You can still find evidence of the family farm in the field boundaries that extend through the Iroquoian Village.
The Mountsberg Conservation Area, which is named for the nearby village of the same name, is located in both the Township of Puslinch and in the Township of East Flamborough. The park is named for the nearby village of Mountsberg which was named after Josiah Mount, a native of Leicestershire who immigrated to Canada in 1835. “Mountsberg” was chosen to honour the Mount family and acknowledge the topography of the area with its gently rolling hills. Within the park’s property are found remains from two very interesting families; the McCraes and the Camerons.
The McCrae Chimney
The McCrae name was made famous by one of their sons who lived on the property for many years. He is better known as Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae who immortalized the despair, dismay and pointlessness of war he witnessed during World War 1. John McCrae died in France in 1918, but he left a short poem that guaranteed his immortality in the English speaking world. It begins: “In Flanders fields the poppies grow…” The remains of a chimney from the McCrae family farm still exist on property adjacent to the Mountsberg Dam. The chimney has become an important habitat for Chimney swifts, a threatened species in Ontario.
The Cameron Farm
The Camerons moved into the area from Scotland and built the farm house and bank barn that can still be seen in the park today. They were responsible for the early years of the sugar bush, grew apples in the orchard and also farmed pigs. The Camerons owned the farm until it was sold in 1960 and became part of the Conservation Authority in 1964. The ruins of a small lime kiln can still be seen along the Pioneer Creek Trail between the frog pond and Milburough line.
Edward Hilton constructed the first mill on the site in 1835. The fate of his mill was connected to historical events of the period. Hilton supported William Lyon McKenzie in the rebellion of 1837, and after the uprising was crushed, Hilton fled to the United States, leaving his mill to fall into ruin. In 1856, Dr. George Park acquired the property and built another mill, with an immense 12 metre diameter waterwheel to power the machinery. Park sold the operation in 1857, but the mill burned down soon afterward in 1860. The final mill, constructed by John Richards, operated from 1863 until 1867. Follow the Hilton Falls Trail (yellow trail markers) to view the remains of the mill and the stunning falls.
The Christie-Henderson Lime Kilns
Considered the best preserved lime kilns in Ontario, the Christie-Henderson lime kilns are located within Kelso Conservation Area. In the 19th century, the lime mortar industry was vital to the growth of early towns. Lime was used in the building industry, glass manufacturing and as a disinfectant. Around 1830, Charles Christie had settled in the area from Scotland and saw the potential for quarrying at the site. His son, David Darling Christie, expanded on the quarry interest at Kelso when the Credit Valley Railway was built through the area in 1879. The present kilns were built in the 1880s and continued operation until 1929. Follow the Lime Kiln Trail to view the ruins of the Christie-Henderson lime kilns.
Alexander Family Farm
Kelso Conservation Area is located on the former Alexander family farm. A notable family member was Adam Alexander III, who harnessed the power of a stream running over the Niagara Escarpment to generate enough electricity for his house and his farm machinery. This was at a time when his contemporaries still used coal, kerosene, and horse powered machinery. The Alexander family house, barn, and other 19th century structures have all been incorporated into Kelso Conservation Area and are located adjacent to the public parking area.
What’s in a name?
Rattlesnake Point’s name origin is quite mysterious; possibly receiving its name as a reference to a time when the Massassauga rattlesnake was common in the region or perhaps from the snake-like path cut by glaciers along the edges of the Niagara Escarpment. One of the many stunning lookouts along the trails reflect the conservation efforts of Conservation Halton. The “Buffalo Crag Lookout” used to overlook a herd of bison that were kept by the authority as breeding stock to reintroduce bison to the prairies. The bison are no longer kept at Rattlesnake Point as they were moved permanently to Mountsberg Conservation Area in the late 1980s.
What’s in a name?
Mount Nemo Conservation Area is named for the nearby village of the same name. In 1906, a post office was established in the area and the local residents could not agree on a name for their community. Ultimately they chose the name Mount Nemo, which recognizes the high elevation of the Escarpment on which their homes were situated and “Nemo” the Latin term for “no one”.
Mount Nemo Quarry
The remains of a quarry pit and several buildings dot Mount Nemo along the hiking trails. These ruins speak to the past and continued importance of limestone in the area. Unfortunately, little information remains of the quarry operations within Mount Nemo.
We would love to know more about the history of our parks! If anyone has heritage information or photos regarding any of our properties we want to hear from you. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Conservation Halton Foundation Halton: Rising, Wild, and Beckoning (Conservation Halton Foundation, 1998-2003)
- McDonald, John. Halton’s Heritage; William Halton and Halton County (Halton Sketches Publishing, 2011)