Discover Harriston, Ontario: A Community Rich in History and Culture

Harriston, Ontario, a community with a population of 1,797, is nestled in the Town of Minto in Wellington County, Canada. This charming town, located at the headwaters of the Maitland River, boasts a variety of shops, restaurants, a library, an art gallery, and a cultural centre. In 1999, Harriston amalgamated with the communities of Palmerston, Clifford, and Minto Township to form the Town of Minto.

The Historical Journey of Harriston, Ontario

The history of Harriston, Ontario, dates back to the summer of 1845 when the first non-Aboriginal settlers arrived. However, it wasn't until 1854 that the Crown made land available for sale in the region.

The town was named after Archibald Harrison, a Toronto farmer who was granted land along the Maitland River in Minto Township, at the Elora and Saugeen Road in 1854. The Harrisons, who moved to the community from York County, were wealthy and became leading figures in the pioneer settlement.

The first sawmill was built by George Harrison in 1854, and two years later, Joshua Harrison built the first gristmill and opened the first store in Harriston. By 1856, the population had grown to 150, and businesses including a blacksmith and wagon maker had been established.

Archibald Harrison, the first postmaster, also built the first hotel and became the first Reeve of Minto. He donated land for Knox Church and cemetery, as well as for the first school. The southern road leading to Harriston was gravelled in 1861, providing easier access to the larger markets of Guelph, Hamilton, and Toronto.

The construction of the Wellington, Grey and Bruce Railway in 1871 transformed Harriston into a prosperous commercial and farm-implement manufacturing centre. The village was incorporated in 1872 with a population of 500 and became a Town in 1878. A second rail line, the Toronto, Grey and Bruce Railway, intersected the village in 1873, and in 1882, the Grand Trunk Railway began shipping through Harriston.

Harriston, Ontario: A Hub of Civil Society

Harriston's citizens began to create friendly service organizations in the late 1860s. The Loyal Orange Institution (Orange Order) opened a Harriston Lodge (#1152) in 1868, and the Ancient, Free & Accepted Masons (commonly known as Freemasons) established a Lodge (#262) in 1871. Other groups, such as the Independent Order of Oddfellows (1879), the Independent Order of Good Templars (active by 1874), and the Royal Templars of Temperance (active by 1900), followed suit.

The Harriston Minto Agricultural Society, founded in 1859, continues to operate an annual fall fair on the third weekend in September, contributing to the vibrant community spirit of Harriston, Ontario.

Despite facing economic downturns and demographic changes, Harriston has persevered and continues to be a thriving community. Today, it stands as a testament to the resilience and spirit of its citizens, offering a rich history and a welcoming community for visitors and residents alike.