Our First Settlers – Part Three

Burlington Gazette – History by Helen Langford

Our First Settlers – Part Three
Tues., November 1, 1977

Last week the scene was only partially set ready for our settlers – the area from our western boundary to the present Joseph Brant Museum. Now we will push off in our canoe along the northern shore of Lake Ontario towards Bronte. The water roads were by far the easiest method of travel.

The high cliffs along the shore were broken by swampy areas at the mouth of numerous creeks in the area from Maple Avenue to Burlington’s most easterly boundary, Burloak Drive (Town Line). The mouth of Rambo Creek (Lamabinicon, to the Indians) provided a lovely beach for swimming at the foot of Torrance Street. At the end of Guelph Line the cliffs gave way to a shallow area suitable for a harbour. The great many swamp areas around creeks made land travel extremely difficult – in fact the Indians used the easier route about a mile north of the Lake along the shore of ancient Lake Iroquois.

The swamp areas and creek beds have caused problems even to the present. Filled areas are not ideal construction sites! At least one bright contractor in Burlington area checks old topographical maps. Did anyone notice the engineering problems sinking the pilings in the od marsh area for the Flood Diversion Channel?

The whole area abounded in wildlife: deer, wild turkey, pheasants, rabbits and rattlesnakes Augustus Jones, surveyor, reported that six hundred snakes were killed on one day near the Bay. The same rattlers were a constant hazard to soldiers constructing the Dundas to London road before 1800.

Although the water highway was the choice route, many of our early settlers arrived by inland routes. The main Indian trail is mentioned above. Very soon the need for a military road from York (Toronto) to Dundas and beyond brought action on the Dundas Highway.

Now we are ready for Burlington’s fathers but before we start, there are many excellent books for the more ardent history buffs to expand these rather simplified reports. Most are available at the Central Public Library. Later, more references will be added.

 — From Pathway to Skyway – Barbara Ford and Claire Emery; The Head of the Lake – C. M. Johnston; Oakville and the Sixteen – Hazel Mathews; The Mark of Honour – Hazel Mathews; The Diary of Mrs. John Graves Simcoe – J. Ross Robertson.

Source: Langford, Helen. Burlington Gazette [Ontario], 1 Nov. 1977. Microfilm. Burlington Public Library – Central Branch. Reel 50.

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