Discover Chesley, Ontario: A Blend of History and Rural Charm
The Origin and Evolution of Chesley, Ontario
Chesley, originally known as Sconeville, is a quaint community nestled in Bruce County, Ontario, Canada. It falls within the jurisdiction of the municipality of Arran–Elderslie. The town's name was changed from Sconeville to Chesley in 1868 to honor Solomon Chesley, a pre-Confederation Indian Department official. Today, Chesley proudly carries the slogan "The Nicest Town Around" and serves as a prime example of a typical rural Ontario community.
Chesley's development began around 1858 with the establishment of mills on the Saugeen River. The town experienced further growth when it was connected to the Grand Trunk Railway in 1881. A devastating fire in 1888 destroyed most of the original downtown core, but the resilient community rebuilt, replacing the wooden structures with brick and stone buildings.
Chesley, Ontario: A Hub of Commercial Manufacturing
From 1886 to 1987, the Krug family operated the Krug Bros. furniture manufacturing business, a significant source of employment for the town. Today, Crate Designs, a locally owned furniture manufacturing factory, is the only surviving furniture factory in Chesley, following the downsizing of Durham Furniture in 2007. The town's economy continues to be driven by commercial manufacturing, making it a vital part of Chesley's identity.
Education in Chesley, Ontario
Chesley is part of the Bluewater District School Board and is home to the Chesley District Community School, which serves students from junior kindergarten to grade 8. In 2014, the original Chesley District High School merged with the Kinghurst Community School to form a junior kindergarten to grade 12 facility. However, the high school section closed in 2017, and the facility now serves students up to grade 8.
Attractions and Amenities in Chesley, Ontario
Chesley boasts a variety of franchises, including New Orleans Pizza, Rona, Home Hardware, and Rexall Drugs. The town is also known for the statue of a giant bull, affectionately known as "Big Bruce," located on the north end of town.
Recently, Chesley has begun developing a network of walking trails, known as the heritage trail, that encompasses much of the town's existing infrastructure of walking paths. This trail spans a large part of the town and its waterside parks, offering residents and visitors a chance to explore Chesley's natural beauty.
Chesley, Ontario's Heritage and Woodworking Museum
In 2005, thanks to a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Chesley opened a Heritage and Woodworking Museum. The museum was housed in the Dawson House on 1st Avenue, formerly the home of town doctors Stewart and Dawson. The building, left to the town for public use in the 1970s, was put up for sale in 2013. Despite this, the museum remains a testament to Chesley's rich history and woodworking heritage.