Discover Exeter, Ontario: Home of the White Squirrel
Exeter, Ontario, a charming community nestled in the southern part of Huron County, is approximately 40 kilometres north of London. Known as the "Home of the White Squirrel," Exeter is famous for its unique white squirrel population. The community's mascot, "Willis The White Wonder," is a regular feature at various events throughout the year, including Canada Day celebrations, the Exeter Rodeo, and the Santa Claus Parade.
A Glimpse into the History of Exeter, Ontario
Exeter was established in the winter of 1832 by Irish settlers James and Jane Willis, along with explorer Sir Michael Jacques. By 1853, thanks to Isaac Carling's efforts in bringing immigrants from Exeter and Devon areas of England, the community had grown to over 300 residents. The original Carling homestead, a designated historical landmark, still stands on Huron St.W. On July 1, 1873, the settlements north and south of the Ausable River, Francistown and Exeter respectively, merged to form the Village of Exeter.
The first written reference to Exeter was by Rev. William Proudfoot in 1833, who described the area as having "excellent soil" and a variety of trees including maple, elm, oak, ironwood, and black ash. At that time, there were only two dwellings in what is now Exeter, belonging to James Willis and William McConnell.
Railway service arrived in Exeter in the 1870s with the London, Huron and Bruce Railway. By 1949, a rail yard existed in Exeter, and the railway had come under the management of the Grand Trunk conglomerate and, later, the Canadian National Railways (CN). The line was later sold to the Goderich-Exeter Railway (GEXR) in 1991.
Exeter was hit by an F2 tornado on December 12, 1946. Despite this, the town has grown to a population of over 4,700 people.
Transportation in Exeter, Ontario
Exeter is located on the north-south Highway 4, which intersects with County Road 83 at the north end of the community. This intersection is the busiest in Huron County.
Freight train service is provided by the Goderich-Exeter Railway, connecting to Canadian National Railway service at London, Stratford, and Toronto. The closest local airfield is at Centralia/James T. Field Memorial Aerodrome, south of Exeter in Huron Park. The closest major international airport is London International Airport.
Exeter is also served by scheduled bus service to Owen Sound and London.
Community Organizations in Exeter, Ontario
Exeter is home to many community organizations, including:
- The Cultural Collective
- The Exeter BIA
- The Exeter Lions Club
- The Huron Waves Music Festival
- The Exeter Farmers Market
- The Independent Order of Oddfellows
- The South Huron Hospital Foundation
- The Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority
- The South Huron Community Choirs: Adult and Handbells
Landmarks in Exeter, Ontario
Exeter boasts several landmarks, including:
- MacNaughton Park, including scenic gardens
- Morrison Dam Conservation Area
- Restored Town Hall
- Carling House
Health & Wellness Facilities in Exeter, Ontario
Health and wellness facilities in the Exeter area include the South Huron Hospital, South Huron Medical Centre/Walk-In Clinic, and the Grand Bend and Area Community Health Centre. Jessica's House is a residential hospice that offers care close to home. Community Psychiatric Services and CMHA Middlesex offer mental health support services. The Exeter Villa and One Care Home & Community Support Services offers help seniors in all capacities.