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View of Burford Post Office

Photo by C. Barker, 2010



The following was written by Clayton Barker and published in the "Towns of Brant"

in the Cobblestone program guide, 2008


     No matter what time of year it is, it is always a great time to go for a drive exploring the nooks and crannies of Southern Ontario. Out in the countryside, there is so much to learn about each place and every community has its very own unique blend of historical events, places and people that have played a part in its evolution. For instance, while driving west of the City of Brantford along old 53 highway (formerly the “Burford Road”) now known as Colborne Street, you will come to the community of Burford, which is one of few communities in Ontario that can boast of being over 220 years old.


     In fact, Burford is one of the oldest centres of habitation in the interior of South-western Ontario and the oldest Euro-American settled community within the County of Brant. Burford’s history dates back to the year 1793 when it was founded by Abraham Dayton, a farmer and miller of New Milford, Connecticut. Dayton ventured into the wilds of Upper Canada with his son-in-law, Benajah Mallory, in search for a tract of land to become the home and “New Jerusalem” for a religious sect that they had belonged to, known as the “Universal Friend”. Dayton & Mallory followed the ancient trail to the western boundary of the Haldimand Grant (Six Nations of the Grand River) to the present-day site of Burford. Though Governor John Graves Simcoe (first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada) had granted Dayton the portion of land comprising of the entire geographic Township of Burford, on behalf of the religious sect, Abraham and his family abandoned the “Universal Friend” and settled here in Burford themselves.


     The road through Burford itself is also as ‘old as the hills’ dating to pre-1640 as a major inland trail used by natives and French Missionaries. Later in the 1600’s, after the forts were established at Niagara and Detroit, it became known as the “Detroit trail” and played an important part emerging in the 1680’s as a major military route for the French, who occupied what’s now Ontario. This path, of course, was used to avoid the British who patrolled Lake Erie. Throughout the 1700’s, it was used extensively by the British and in the winter of 1793, Governor John Graves Simcoe travelled this route on an expedition to Detroit with Six nations Chief Joseph Brant.

     Burford is located in the heart of rural Ontario with a population of about 2000. Some of the annual events that take place here are: a giant community yard sale and flea market (September) and the Burford fall fair (Thanksgiving weekend). Burford is home to Home Hardware’s Beauti-tone paint factory, manufactured here in Burford since 1979 and the Grand River Conservation Authority’s Burford Tree Nursery, since 1984, which is the home to the Chestnut Recovery Program (a program to replenish the American chestnut tree).

     While out visiting Burford, whether browsing the shops along King Street or attending an event put on by the many clubs, groups, and volunteer organizations, you will, no doubt, experience the friendly neighbourly-like hospitality that Burford is renowned for.






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