The Town of Halton Hills is a unique combination of two urban areas, Georgetown and Acton, and historic hamlets, Glen Williams, Hornby, Limehouse, and Norval. Halton Hills was incorporated as a town in 1974. It was named after Major William Halton, secretary to the lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, Francis Gore. Fun fact: from 1926 to 1935, Norval was home to Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables.
Halton Hills is located approximately 45 km west of Toronto and was created by the amalgamation of Acton, Georgetown, and Esquesing Township. It also encompasses several other hamlets — Ballinafad, Stewarttown, Glen Lawson, Speyside, Ashgrove, Crewson’s Corners, Bannockburn, Henderson’s Corners, Whaley’s Corners, Mansewood, Silver Creek, and Terra Cotta.
Today, Halton Hills is considered part of the Greater Toronto Area. It is connected to Toronto by GO Transit rail service, which stops at both Georgetown and Acton.
Halton Hills, unsurprisingly, features a hilly landscape, as well as long rural stretches of farmland. It is considered one of the largest agricultural regions in the Greater Toronto Area. The area also contains part of the Niagara Escarpment, with a number of conservation areas (e.g. Credit Valley Conservation) and access to the Bruce Trail.
It all started back in 1829 when the Adams brothers came from Lower Canada (Quebec) looking to purchase some farmland. Each acquired parcels of land from the Canada Company and by 1842, their combined holdings totaled approximately 500 acres. The Adams brothers decided to survey their farms into town lots, open and name streets, and call the settlement Adamsville. However, in 1844 when a post office was established in the community, the name of the town was changed to Acton.
In Acton, the primary industry was tanning, earning it the nickname “Leathertown.” It began in 1842 under Captain Abraham Nelles and in 1865, the Beardmore Tanning Company opened. Tanning has been an important industry for Acton and at one time was the largest tanner in Canada. To celebrate, thousands come out each year to the Leathertown Festival. Acton is the home of the Olde Hyde House and their catchphrase, “it’s worth the drive to Acton”.
Acton was incorporated as a village in 1874 and as a town in 1950.
Early settlers were drawn to the Halton Hills area because of the power of the Credit River. In 1823, George Kennedy, Charles Kennedy’s younger brother, arrived from the Niagara region and opened a mill. A family of four brothers — William, James, Joseph and Robert Barber — bought the mill and foundry in 1837 and named the settlement Georgetown.
Georgetown started booming in the 1850s, and by the late 1880s the Barber brothers pioneered the use of hydroelectric power from the Credit River for their mills. Georgetown was incorporated as a village in 1865 and as a town in 1922.