Information and photos courtesy of Karen Richardson, Haldimand County Museum and Archives
Early patterns of settlement in Haldimand County are still visible in the landscape and architecture, spanning from the pre-contact era to the proclamation of the Haldimand Land Grant for the Six Nations and the subsequent migration of Loyalist settlers – Americans, largely of German descent and Mennonite tradition. Throughout the 1800s, an influx of immigration from the British Isles contributed significantly to the area’s development, as did the small but industrious black community of the late 19th Century – many descended from ex-slaves of the American South. Since the post-war years of the 20th Century, a significant stream of immigration from the Netherlands has also added to our ever-expanding mosaic of cultural identity, as have the age-old traditions of our Indigenous neighbours – the Six Nations and New Credit communities.
Since the arrival of the first European settlers to the area, Haldimand County has developed primarily as an agricultural industry. The stiff clay soil has long promoted the growth of wheat, barley, oats, and peas. Closer to the Grand River where the soil is lighter, crops such as corn, potatoes, and buckwheat have long been grown successfully. In addition to a strong agricultural history, many Haldimand residents were able to establish themselves through the extraction of the mineral gypsum found throughout the area.