In 1784 the British Crown
granted to the Six Nations Indians, in perpetuity, all the land along
the Grand River six miles deep on each side of the river from its source
to Lake Erie. The Indians, led by Joseph Brant, had the land surveyed
in 1791 and divided into Indian Reserve lands as well as large tracts
which they intended to sell to developers. One such developer was
the Honourable William Dickson who, in 1816, came into sole possession
of 90,000 acres of land along the Grand River which was later to make
up North and South Dumfries Townships.
Mr. Dickson intended to
divide the land into smaller lots to be sold, primarily, to Scottish
settlers whom he hoped to attract to Canada. In the company of Absalom
Shade, Mr. Dickson immediately toured his new lands intending to develope
a town site which would serve as the focal point for his attempts to
populate the countryside. They chose the site where Mill Creek flows
into the Grand River and in 1816 the settlement of Shade's Mills was
born. The new settlement grew slowly but by 1825, though still very
small, it was the largest settlement in the area and was important enough
to obtain a post office. Mr. Dickson decided that a new name was needed
for the Post Office and consequently the settlement and he chose Galt
in honour of the Scottish novelist and Commissioner of the Canada Company,
John Galt. Settlers resisted the introduction of the new name preferring
the more familiar Shade's Mills. After Mr. Galt visited Mr. Dickson in the
settlement two years later, the name "Galt" received more wide spread
In its early days Galt
was an agricultural community serving the needs of the farmers in the
surrounding countryside. By the late 1830's, however, the settlement
began to develop an industrial base and a reputation for quality products
that, in later years, earned the town the nickname "The Manchester of
Canada". Galt was the largest and most important town in the area until
the beginning of the 20th century when it was finally overtaken by Kitchener.
The town continued its steady if unspectacular growth and reveled in
its reputation as an industrial town whose products reached around the
In the late 1960's the provincial government began looking at ways in which
municipal governments could become more effective. It was proposed that the
Regional Municipality of Waterloo possessing greater powers and responsibilities
would replace the County of Waterloo. As part of that process, the City of Galt
would amalgamate with the towns of Preston and Hespeler to form a single city.
So it was that on January 1, 1973 the City of Galt ceased to exist as a
separate political entity and became part of the new City of Cambridge. The
City of Cambridge's municipal services were then housed in the building to the
left. This picture was taken in July of 1997. To learn more about Galt City
Hall history, please click on that picture.
Today, city hall is located at 50 Dickson Street.
The City of Cambridge crest symbolizes the union between Galt, Hespler,
Preston and Blair. To learn more about the city's symbols CLICK
The main shopping core found at the corner of Dixon Street and Ainslie Street
South on the east side of the Grand River - just south of the Macdonald-Cartier
Freeway (401) is a charming and seemingly thriving shopping district
with more than ample bank representation, the city's transportation
depots and a farmers' market. The picture to the right shows the market
as it stands today. If you like to more about the market's history,
please click on the picture (the picture was taken in June, 1997).
To learn about the very important role banks played
in the development of The City of Cambridge, CLICK HERE!
We gratefully acknowledge Jim Quantrell, Archivest for the City of
Cambridge and the Corporation of the City of Cambridge's Archives Department
for their gracious provisioning of the material upon which this page is based
(published articles and more) and for allowing us to draw, liberally, on that
published material and images in their library!