The United Empire Loyalist Settlement at Long Point, Lake Erie
Chapter XII. The County of Norfolk


By the Act of the Imperial Parliament, 1791 (31 George III., Cap. 31), the Governor was empowered to divide Upper Canada into as many counties as he might think fit. Accordingly, in the following year nineteen counties were surveyed, among them Norfolk, which is the sixteenth on the list. The original proclamation bounds it as follows:

“On the north and east by the County of Lincoln and the River La Tranche (Thames); on the south by Lake Erie, until it meets the Barbue; thence by a line running north until it intersects the Tranche, and up the said river till it meets the north-west boundary of the County of York.” This included the townships of Burford, Oxford-upon-the-Thames, Norwich, Dereham, Rainham and Walpole, now in other counties.

At first it formed part of the Western district, an extremely indefinite province. Previous to the Treaty of 1794, which came into effect in 1796, the Ohio and Mississippi rivers formed the boundary line of Canada. By that treaty the line of division was drawn in the middle of the lakes.

The Surveyor-General described the Western district as follows in 1796 (the early part of the year): “On the south it is bounded by Lake Erie; on the east by a meridian passing through the easterly extremity of Long Point, and comprehends all the lands north-westerly of these boundaries, not included within the bounds of the Hudson Bay Company or the territory of the United States. The boundary which divides it from Louisiana is not well known after it reaches the sources of the Mississippi.”

In 1798 the London district was created, and Norfolk incorporated in it. “The counties of Norfolk, Oxford and Middlesex, with as much of this province as lies westward of the Home district and the district of Niagara to the southward of Lake Huron, and between them and a line drawn due north, from where the easternmost limit of Oxford intersects the River Thames till it arrives at Lake Huron.” (It will be noticed that what is now called Georgian Bay was not distinguished from Lake Huron.)

The general appearance of Norfolk county is rolling and pleasant. A century ago the gentle undulations were covered with vast forests of beech, white pine, walnut and oak, of which a good deal yet remains.

In certain townships (Houghton, Middleton, Charlottevillc and Walsingham) are extensive deposits of bog iron ore of the very finest kind. In this connection may be mentioned the establishment of the blast furnaces at Norinandale as far back as 1818.

Nearly every kind of fruit found in the temperate zone flourishes here—apple, peach, pear, plum, quince, cherry, grape, apricot and berries of all kinds. The woods are well stocked with quail, partridge, rabbits, hares and black squirrels, and the marshes abound in waterfowl, especially at Turkey Point and at Long Point, which is now a game preserve and owned by a private corporation. The creeks and streams are well stocked with fish, speckled trout predominating.

Some parts of the county, for example, Houghton Centre, are simply tracts of sand ; but the general character of the soil is a clay loam, suitable for a great variety of crops, easily worked, early and rich.


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