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Dundas, Ontario

Only a few widely scattered log cabins existed in the valley that we know today as Dundas, most of them near the junction of the trails that led to Niagara, Ancaster, Waterloo, and York. This corner is today the Town Hall corner. It was Governor Simcoe's garrison town of Coote's Paradise that was the beginning of the town of Dundas, and it was his military road, Dundas Street, that gave the town its name. On July 16, 1792 Simcoe's proclamation provided that "Lake Geneva, to be called Burlington Bay, and a carrying place leading through the Mohawk Village to where it intersects the river La Tranche, or Thames", should be the dividing line between the counties of York and Lincoln. Simcoe knew of this carrying place through Dundas Valley, the secret portage that had in earlier days been known only to the Indians and a few fur traders. His father had studied a map of the territory and its rivers, and had conceived a scheme of building a canal to connect Coote's Paradise with the Grand River, The Thames River, and the Aux Sables River, thus making a water route connecting Lakes Ontario, Erie, St. Clair, and Huron. It is only ninety three miles from Lake Ontario to Lake Huron by this route, whereas it is four hundred miles between the same two spots when traveling via the Niagara portage.

Simcoe decided to make the planned canal a military road, to run from Coote's Paradise to the Thames River, with a garrison town at each end. On this road he could transport troops and supplies to Lake Erie via the Thames River, if, as he feared, United States should ever attack Canada and gain control of the water routes of the Great Lakes system. His road was used for this purpose in the war of 1812. Simcoe named this road Dundas Street, after his friend Henry Dundas, Secretary of State for Home Affairs. Simcoe's road was cleared by the Queen's Rangers Regiment in 1793, and the garrison towns were later laid out, and named Coote's Paradise, and Oxford (now Woodstock).

Today visitors can visit the Dundas Historical Society Museum where they can view glassware, furniture and other period pieces. There is also a children’s corner that displays toys and dolls and a Pioneer Store that has a variety of dry goods typical of a 19th century mercantile store.

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