Glen Williams Real Estate Listings and Information
A community in the true sense of the word
Community! A word in common usage yet one that defies easy definition. A collection of buildings, supported by infrastructure, peopled by residents might be the simplest definition.
Yet this in no way conveys the true meaning of the word. Much like a house needs a family to be a home A true community must have pride and a smidgen of arrogance in and of itself. It is protective of its own, yet welcomes and is hospitable to outsiders. It also evokes an almost spiritual sense of well-being that transcends religion. Finally, it must be willing to accept, adjust and adapt to inevitable change to survive.
Glen Williams, originally Williamsburg, in the Town of Halton Hills, more than meets the criteria as a true community. Nestled comfortably on and about the meandering Credit River and its surrounding wooded hills, this village of approximately 1,000 residents is an integral part of the Town of Halton Hills. Its roots go back to 1818, when the British Government purchased a block of land from an Ojibwa band of native Canadians, Mississauga, eventually transforming into the Township of Esquesing.
United Empire Loyalists, fleeing the rage of anti-British wrath consuming the former colonies, in what was to eventually become the Republic of the United States of Americas, came north, preferring the assumed relative calmer rule of a British colony to the perceived radicalism south of the border. Benajah Williams, a staunch loyalist -who fled New York State and hence the village's name- is recognized in a historical sense, as the founder of Glen Williams.
Mainly because through grit and grist he became the area's foremost employer. He built a saw mill in 1885, then shortly after, a flour mill. His son Jacob started a woolen mill, which was taken over by another son, Charles, on the untimely death of his sibling. Benajah Williams died in 1851, but his progeny continued the task of carving out a community in relative wilderness. Williamsburg was granted a Post Office in 1852 -with one stipulation. Change your name! It seems a community on the St. Lawrence River went by the same moniker. "Glen Williams", now accepted as Glen Williams, was essentially, established.
The burgeoning village soon became a hub of industry and commerce in the area. Farmers John Leslie and John S. Fraser owned brickyards and William McClure, with three lime kilns, produced the mortar for the bricks to be used as building material. But Charles Williams now held the reins of power in the village. He owned 350 acres of land; owned the mills; was appointed Post Master in 1852, Justice of the Peace in 1855 and if you wanted a job, basically, where else could you go?
A community was taking shape in woods. The village boasted a hotel and an inn, where groceries were sold. Tradesmen-butchers, shoemakers, carpenters, masons, painters, blacksmiths and general merchants- now plied their respective trades. A sawmill downstream was owned and operated by Joseph Tweedle. Timothy Eaton, scion of the now desiccated by debtors T. Eaton Co., lived in the village with his sister and ironically, worked as a clerk/bookkeeper. A frame schoolhouse was built in 1837, to be replaced by a brick schoolhouse in 1873. The present Glen Williams Public School was built in 1950, with additions continuing until 1980. The Town Hall, still in use, was built in 1871 and a board of trustees presided over the governing of the village.
The Town Hall Board is still very much in existence, overseeing village concerns, with elections held every November. Canada Day celebrations in the 'Glen' are the venue of the Town Hall Board. As in every small community, sports was a very important bonding agent for the residents of the Glen. Lacrosse is undergoing a rebirth of sorts in Halton Hills Ð with due reference to hockey, lacrosse is in fact our officially recognized national sport Ð but has a long and proud history in Glen Williams. For almost two decades, through the 1880Õs and 1890Õs, the Glen Williams Lacrosse Club terrorized opponents.
Sports days were organized for special occasions. Cycling was popular in the area in the 1890Õs, while baseball and softball games provided regular athletic fare. The Glen Williams Ball Park, on the banks of the Credit, is the hub of the village. Built in 1964 by volunteers on land donated by farmer Cliff Davison, the park now boasts several ball diamonds, a playground and soccer field. Canada Day Celebrations, are staged at the Ball Park -very much a family-oriented day. In the summer months, the Ball Park is a going concern seven days a week and residents regularly saunter down and jam the bleachers for a night of healthy, wholesome entertainment. Glen ball teams, adults and youth, have savoured many championship triumphs in front of their sometimes rambunctious -but always supportive fans. The smell of popcorn, hot dogs, hamburgers and fried onions wafts contentedly in the air along with cries of "You're missing a good game, ump!"
Girl Guides, Brownies, Cubs and Scouts have a long history of serving the youth of the community, with church groups and service clubs providing the same for adults. A strong religious community, Glen Williams was put on the Methodist Episcopal circuit in 1836. Presbyterian and United churches followed and on June 20, 2003, St. Alban the Martyr Anglican Church will celebrate 100 years as a very important cornerstone of the community. A number of Glen residents served and paid the ultimate sacrifice in the two World Wars, and in 1971 a memorial was erected opposite the Ball Park on the banks of the Credit.
Essentially a mill town, dependent on the markets and how they affected the owners of the mills fortunes -or misfortunes- the village's highs and lows have ebbed and flowed over the years. Business and personal tragedies effectively brought the end to the Williams family domination of the area by 1890.
Through two World Wars the mills had provided the core employment. However, the later years of the Depression caused numerous businesses to fail. And although World War Two had the mills churning out product, to borrow from Bob Dylan, the times they were a-changin'. New technology introduced new textiles and the old mills just couldn't compete. In 1974, a portion of Oakville, the Township of Esquesing, Norval , Georgetown and Acton as well as numerous cluster hamlets were amalgamated into the Town of Halton Hills and ultimately into Halton Region.
The village is now viewed by some as somewhat of an artist and artisans village with the Williams Mill gallery and studios its centerpiece. Housed, in fact, in the old Williams mill. The property was purchased in 1985 by Doug Brock of Georgetown, who has a strong affinity for history and a protective feeling for things of historic value. It is operated by his wife Mary Lou. Unveiled in 1994, its' 15 studios provide a haven for artists and artisans in various disciplines. Mary Lou shies away from the 'Artisans Village' connotation, preferring instead to suggest a 'blending-in' with the community has taken place. With kudos to Glen Williams residents for their accepting attitude. An English Pub, an antique store and a bakery are huddled around the Williams Mill. Local historian, Mark Rowe, who has written three publications about Glen Williams (which provided much of the information for this article) and has 12 other publications lodged in the Georgetown library, has lived in Glen Williams for 20 years.
He echoes Mary Lou Brocks' sentiments and is adamant that Glen Williams links to its historic past should never, and will never be broken and that the village's survival is given. Vi Haines, a still vibrant and community conscious 86-year-old, and a lifelong resident who has served the village in a number of appreciated capacities, was more succinct! "Glen Williams is my life and my home. It's the friendliest place with the friendliest people in the world. An artisans' village? I wouldn't object to that!
But be sure of one thing! The Glen will survive, one way or the other." Benajah Williams would be pleased to know that the indomitable spirit that initially spurred both the birth and growth of his hoped-to-be community is still firmly in place in Glen Williams. And this pioneering spirit -and against all odds- defiance is being proudly handed down from one generation to the next.