Field Notes for Summer 2021
What to explore, browse, see this summer.
Bolton buzz: A town marks the past and plans for its future
This year Caledon’s largest village celebrates the bicentennial of the 1821 purchase by British immigrant George Bolton (1799–1868) of 200 acres on the Humber River as a key milestone in Bolton’s history.
The land had been acquired by the British Crown from the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation through the Ajetance Purchase (Treaty 19) in October 1818. (The land had also been occupied by other First Nations, including the Anishnaabeg, the Wendat and the Haudenosaunee, according to the Albion Bolton Historical Society.)
In 1819, the area was surveyed by James Chewett, who was given 2,635 acres in the township as payment. On June 5, 1821, Chewett sold 200 of them to Bolton. By 1824 George and his brother, James Charles Bolton, had built the grist mill that sparked the next chapter in the village’s development.
For the past two years, the Albion Bolton Historical Society has been working on an interpretive plaque to commemorate the bicentennial. Although Covid has upended plans for a public unveiling, stay tuned for one in the future. While you wait, consider the online walking tours on the society’s site, boltonhistory.com. One addition: In May, a heritage plaque honouring Ann and Samuel Sterne was installed on the south side of the Humber River near the Bolton Heritage kiosk. The Sternes were behind ongoing growth of the village, notably the 1839 opening of Sterne’s Inn, a two-storey, mudbrick building in 1839.
A Bolton treasure: The story of the 1854 Prosser Map
In 2013, a demolition crew discovered pieces of an 1854 map by T.C. Prosser, a local land surveyor. Believed to be the only copy in existence, the map helped the historical society confirm that 15 buildings in Bolton’s core were built prior to 1854. The 16th would have been the c.1836 vertical plank home where the map was found. It belonged to founder George Bolton’s nephew, Charles Bolton. Visit the map section of the historical society’s website to take a look.
Back to the future: Bolton’s plan to revitalize
In March 2021, Caledon adopted the Bolton Downtown Revitalization Plan which covers initiatives such as traffic calming, convincing owners to sell or rent vacant storefronts, and boosting recreational activities. “Historic downtown Bolton has so much potential,” says area councillor Tony Rosa. “Through our public engagement process, the revitalization of this area will provide more opportunities for our existing dedicated small businesses and become a place for residents and visitors to shop, dine and gather.” The complete plan can be found online at caledon.ca/bdr. A related note: Check out the Bolton BIA’s magnificent flower displays along Queen Street this summer. And while you’re there, watch for new eateries opening soon: date-night shoe-in the Wine Spot and Portuguese churrasqueira Flame House Grill.
Small business news
As we’ve all learned so well, shopping local in a pandemic means some degree of shopping online. But as small businesses cited a lack of funds, time and technical knowledge affecting their ability to adapt quickly, local Business Improvement Areas and governments stepped in to help. The Town of Shelburne launched #supporttheburne, using social media and other platforms to promote local business. “We’re so appreciative of the community’s support,” says Carol Maitland, the town’s economic development co-ordinator. “Our main goal is to increase online resiliency to secure the future of our businesses.” A grant from Innovation Guelph funded a centralized e-commerce site for Shelburne, where customers can buy products, book appointments and discover restaurants. The target go-live date is June 2021 and registration is open to any business in Dufferin County.
Orangeville BIA launched a similar service in summer 2020 on their website, Shop Downtown Orangeville. It features goods and services, including takeout and food delivery. Consider online shopping for jewelry and gifts from Sproule’s Emporium and Dragonfly Arts, or vintage finds from Blumen on Broadway. Let’s call it retail therapy. In Caledon, the municipal Love Local Caledon campaign began in 2020 and runs through 2021. Aimed at getting the word out about shopping local, the campaign also promotes a detailed online Eat Local Guide featuring local restaurants and farm shops. Check it out when you’re stocking up.
Furniture – New and revived
While many of us stuck at home have been eyeing a decor update — especially outside after a winter of being cooped up — gummed-up furniture supply chains could keep us waiting into fall. But local retailers such as Orangeville Furniture are coming to the rescue, with outdoor displays to wander through and loads of stock. Other nearby options for custom-made pieces include Decor Solutions in Erin and Boss Leather in Bolton. If vintage is more your style, refinished vintage pieces are popping up all over. Consider Orangeville’s clever Revival Furniture for crisp, freshly painted consoles and tables, and Shelburne’s Boyne River Trading Company for facelifted dressers and cabinets.
Staging a comeback
If you’ve come to the end of your Netflix queue, never fear. Local artists are serving up fresh fodder. Orangeville’s Summer Concert Series is back for a second year. In a case of quick pandemic thinking, the town created the drive-in concert event at the downtown Rotary Park last summer. The tunes will ring out – on FM radio dials – for six concerts from Friday, August 20 through Saturday, August 28. Genres include jazz with Laila Biali and Ryan Grist, blues with Larry Kurtz & The Lawbreakers, and Opry with Leisa Way. The series is a joint project of the Orangeville Blues & Jazz Festival, Theatre Orangeville and the Orangeville Public Library. B Social Enterprises provides concession services. Tickets are $25 per vehicle and include a $10 shopping and dining voucher for downtown Orangeville. Find the full lineup, including Wednesday’s Family Fun night, and ticket info at orangeville.ca. Theatre Orangeville’s own summer plans are a mix of virtual and live productions. The Third Life of Eddie Mann runs online from July 30 to August 15. Chase the Ace is slated as an in-person show August 11 to 22, as is Josiah September 8 to 19 (venues TBA).