Brant’s Block

Burlington Gazette - History by Helen Langford

Brant's Block
Tues., February 14, 1978

As Gordon Blair has said “The best thing Joseph Brant did for Burlington was to go bankrupt.”

Why did Joseph Brant choose our area for his personal-grant? He already had a home in the Brantford area. We can only speculate - was it the beauty of the area, or to be near friends and the English way of life? Certainly he is our best known early resident. There is an excellent book about Joseph Brant sold at the museum (by Mary Fraser) everyone should own it.

Regardless of the old warrior’s reason, his 3,450 acres and the adjoining land grants to his family delayed settlement of the area south of Dundas Street both sides of our Brant Street.

The original treaty was signed by the Mississauga chiefs and by George Chisholm and Robert Nelles as commissioners of Upper Canada. The Mississaugas were paid in goods -

32 Blankets … 2 points
Blankets 22 Do … 1 ½ points
36 Do … 2 ½ points

49 Yards Blue Strout (Stroud blanket material manufactured at Stroud, Gloucestershire, for trade among the Indians)
40 ½ Yards Black Strout
79 Yards Linnen
90 Yards Calico
9 Dozen Indian Knifes
47 Pound of Brass Kettles

Part of the agreement was that a public road would be cut through the property and that the Indians could retain their use of the beach. By the number of arrowheads found later in the Maple Avenue area, this must have been a popular hunting ground. Old maps show a footpath over the beach joining up to the ancient Indian trail from the Head of The Lake to York. The course of the Indian trail is traced on an early map. A copy is hanging in Burlington’s City Hall.

We came upon an interesting diary entry - Joseph Brant and his neighbour - Asahel Davis, returning from Niagara, stopped for supper at an inn. Joseph felt ill immediately and after arriving home died that same night. The unknown author of this account stated that Joseph wondered if he had been poisoned. Was he?

Before his death in 1807 Joseph mortgaged or sold some of Brant’s Block. More had to be sold after his death to settle his debts, paving the way for settlement of Brant’s Block.

Burlington could now begin in earnest!

Source: Langford, Helen. Burlington Gazette [Ontario], 14 Feb 1978. Microfilm. Burlington Public Library - Central Branch. Reel 50.