Did you know...?

Well, it happened in Southwold Township!


Southwold Earthworks
National Historic Site.

Walk where Canada"s earliest inhabitants did and imagine the longhouses and palisade walls that was once a rare fortified village of 800-900 Attiwandaron, also known as the Neutral Iroquoi, who inhabited Southwold from 1500 to 1650 AD.

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Southwold Gets Named

after Southwold in Suffolk England. Designed as the Keystone Township due to shape. position, soil fertility and character of people.

Southwold Fingal Foundry

MacPherson, Glasgow and Company Perfects the aprontype thresher "Climax", an innovation in farm machinery.


Railroad Arrives

Great Southern Railway and Great Western Air Line Railway establish lines thought the township.

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No.4 Bombing & Gunery Schools Opens

Fingal site chosen for this unit of the British Commonwealth air Training Plan of World war ||.

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Col. Thomas Talbort Arrives

Irish born solider establishes a community in port Talbot and begins dispensing land to settles along Lake Erie's shore.

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FORD Plant Opens

1,200 manufacturing jobs are created at the Talbotville facility.

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Why? Because history matters.

Our history plays a vital role in our everyday lives. It is a record of who, and what we are, and what came before us. Preserving our history establishes roots and community pride.
Southwold and its People are featured in an exhibit with artifacts, images, and interpretive text, and digital interactive experiences at the Canadian Museum of History. Take a look at our past, and you’ll see that we have an abundance of fascinating news from yesteryear, and you’ll discover plenty to brag about right here in Southwold Township.
Share your own family history and bragging rights with us on Facebook too!

Want to learn more? These books are available for you to discover what happened in Southwold Township.

Southwold Remembers . . . The War Years

By Southwold Memorial Committee with interviews by Pamela Walsh, Susan Scott, Editor Published by Township of Southwold. This book lists 546 courageous Southwold township residents who fought in WWI, WWII, and the Korean War. Read the stories of life before going to war, during battle, and post-war of 21 of these local heroes as described to Pamela Walsh in emotional interviews. Also contains photos and short biographies of WWI, WWII and Post WWII Veterans from Southwold.
AVAILABILTY: Township of Southwold Office, 35663 Fingal Line, Fingal, ON N0L 1K

Southwold Remembers . . .The Fingal Observer, No. 4 Bombing & Gunnery School

By Blair Ferguson
Who were these young men and women from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Free France, United States and Canada that were stationed at Fingal’s Air Training School? Read airmen profiles and accounts of the times from The Fingal Observer, the training base’s own newspaper. Luckily, a postman stationed at the base collected these papers that decades later were given to Mr. Ferguson, who has compiled them into a fascinating book.
AVAILABILTY: Township of Southwold Office, 35663 Fingal Line, Fingal, ON N0L 1K0

Southwold Remembers . . . #4 Bombing and Gunnery School Fingal Fatalities 1940-1945

By Pat Temple, Southwold Memorial Committee
The #4 B & G School, was a Second World War British Commonwealth Air Training Plan station in Fingal, operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force. 6,000 students and instructors from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Free France, United States and Canada came through Fingal during the war years. This book honours the 19 men who tragically lost their lives in training accidents. Read the accounts of these mishaps from St. Thomas Times Journal articles and The Daily Diary of the training school.
AVAILABILTY: Sold Out but available in County Libraries, also available on Amazon.ca

Taken and Destroyed
The War of 1812 Losses Claims
London and Western Districts Upper Canada

By Glenn Scott and Carol Hall
The War of 1812 was a defining period in Canada’s history. The area around St. Thomas was invaded at least six times between 1813 and 1814. The immense losses suffered by local families included household furniture, clothing, wheat, corn, hogs, sheep, and horses. In this book the actual claims of losses submitted by the early families of this area are summarized and recorded. These claims provide a valuable and rare snapshot of life in our frontier community in time of war.
On Line GlobalGenealogy.com/1812
Mail Order 1-800-361-5168
Glen Stott gstott@xcelco.on.ca
Carol Hall crhall20002000@yahoo.ca
Hard cover, soft cover and book on CD (searchable pdf)

A History of Lawrence Station 1870-2009

By Shirley Longhurst, Alice Plain, Dora McArthur, and Karen Collard
In 1792 Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe marveled at the abundance of walnut trees along the banks of the Thames River in North Southwold. The trees were harvested but the area remained untouched until settlers arrived here in 1837. Why was this town established in a location that claimed no main crossroads? How large, and how active was Lawrence Station years ago? All of these questions are answered in this book that also reveals fascinating family histories.
AVAILABILTY: Shedden Branch of the Elgin County Library, and at the Elgin County Museum.

The Families Of Five Stakes - A History of Talbotville Royal 1811-1851

By Morley Thomas
Author Morley Thomas, who grew up in the 1920s and 1930s in Talbotville, writes extensively about his beloved home village from it's earliest beginnings, with road surveys in 1811, to the census of 1851. Chapters cover the beginnings, the Talbot settlement process, the development of the farming community, and the social and business centre of the "corner", as well as genealogies of approximately 130 families or individuals who lived in the community during that time. Early maps and an extensive index of names is included.
AVAILABILTY: Available in local libraries and limited quantities on Amazon.ca

Five Stakes Revisited: Talbotville Families in 1931

By Morley Thomas
Morley Thomas expands on his written history of Talbotville with this look at the community as he knew it growing up there in the 1920s and 1930s. His recollections include details gleaned from other local Talbotville historians and the book is sectioned by lot or house and include details on who lived there, from the first settlers to more recent times, with hundreds of names.
AVAILABILTY: Available only from Steve Thomas at stevet@stephenthomas.ca

A History of Watson’s Corners

By Lyla Benn Best and Ann Carmichael Vance
The availability of land was a profound attraction to early settlers. Learn of the first American families, United Empire Loyalists, and British settlers who traveled to the north shore of Lake Erie to build a thriving community. Read how the No. 4 Bombing and Gunnery School of World War II landed in this community, and the impact it had on the region.
AVAILABILTY: Local branches of Elgin County Library

Independence and Plenty
An illustrated history of Shedden, Fingal, and the surrounding area

By Alison Vicary and Michael Clark
The actions and experiences of the “ordinary” people of Southwold Township are the focus of this book. Learn about the successes as well as the failures of the Talbot Settlement’s early inhabitants, and how they forged this parcel of wilderness into a community of accomplishment and prosperity.
AVAILABILTY: Elgin County Library, Shedden and St. Thomas Library.
Also in Elgin County Archives http://www.elgincounty.ca/archives
See Shedden Tweedsmuir Vol. 2, pages 104 – 125

Houses of West Elgin

Research by Donald L. Carroll and Jean Bircham – Copyright Elgin Historical Society, 1998. Older photos by Rev. Canon Norman Morris and more current ones by Don Carroll, Published by the Elgin Historical Society.
The homes of a community reflect the personalities of those who built them, those who lived in them, and those who changed them over the years to fit changing conditions. In 1933 several photographs were taken by Rev. Norman Morris for a show called “Old Houses of West Elgin”. Rev. Morris wrote a series of twenty-seven articles that were printed in the St. Thomas Times-Journal. These historically important articles and photos have been assembled in this volume.
AVAILABILTY: Copies may be viewed at St. Thomas Public Library, George Thorman Room, in the Elgin Branch OGS Collection, and Shedden and Dutton Branches of the Elgin County Library.

Vanished Villages of Elgin

By Jennifer Grainger
Now, mere ghosts of the past, the once-flourishing villages of Tyrconnell, Port Talbot, Cowal, Grovesend, Mapleton, Jamestown, and several others are profiled in this book. Although tranquil today, these former village settings were once the scene of much excitement – shipwrecks, War of 1812 skirmishes,rowdy taverns, eerie hauntings, deafening steam engines thundering by on new rail lines, robberies, and even a murder or two. Ghost-town buffs, genealogists, and day-trippers will enjoy these absorbing stories and photos of the past. AVAILABILTY: Can be purchased on line paperback or e-book

A Postal History of West Elgin

By Keith Kelly and Irving Thomas –
A project of the West Elgin Historical and Genealogical Society, 1999. In the early 1800’s as settlements grew in the townships being populated by Scottish immigrants, the demand for postal service also grew. This book outlines how the post offices developed in West Elgin, with names of the postmasters, couriers, and photographs, if possible, of old post offices.
AVAILABILTY: Shedden and Dutton Library.

Historical Sketches of Southwold Township School Sections

By Margaret G. Fife (Mrs. Stuart) and Elyse AR McKillop (Mrs. Duncan)
Can you even imagine a time when all the students who attended a school could fit into one classroom? Are teachers of today able to comprehend the challenges of instructing advanced students, beginners, and every grade in between in the same class? Enjoy charming stories of the 19 small Southwold Township schools that nurtured and disciplined pupils up until 1964.
AVAILABILTY: Local branches of Elgin County Library and Toronto Public Library

Southwold Public School 50 Years 1964-2014

By Janice Fisher and Elizabeth Thompson
School life changed drastically in 1964 with the opening of the central school - Southwold Public School, and the closing of the many one room township schools. Students were now riding a school bus for the first time, and they were in class with children from all corners of the township. This book was published to mark the 50th anniversary of the school and includes the Historical Sketches of Southwold Township School Sections as originally published in 1971, information on the many transformations of the school over the years, as well as excerpts from yearbooks, archival photos, lists of administrators and award winners, and much more. AVAILABILTY: Shedden, Port Stanley, and St. Thomas Libraries

The Talbotville School

By Morley Thomas
In 1925 author Morley Thomas began school in the tiny brick schoolhouse that was built in 1874. His family was closely connected to the school. Morley's mother was a teacher, his grandfather and uncles were on the school board, so he recalls plenty of mealtime discussion about school matters. This extensive history of the Talbotville School was compiled using the Treasurer's Account Books and Trustee's Minute Books dating back to 1859. Detailed lists name the trustess, the teachers and their salaries, the students, and the names and occupations of the students' parents.
AVAILABILTY: Available only from Steve Thomas at stevet@stephenthomas.ca

Elgin County Places of Worship Records
Inventory: Southwold Township

By Elgin County Branch Ontario Genealogical Society https://elgin.ogs.on.ca
All places of worship, along with photos, if possible are listed. Information gathered includes name and location of church, religious denomination, date of formation, date of closing, affiliated congregations or circuits, ministers, and a brief history.
AVAILABILTY: Elgin County O. G. S., Box 20060, St. Thomas, Ontario N5P 0B5

185 Years of Faithful Ministry
A history of Iona Station Baptist Church 1821 – 2006

By Rev. Deane Proctor
What is it that makes a small church in a tiny community persist for so many years, while other congregations have closed and disappeared? In 2006 the Iona Station Baptist Church celebrated 185 years of ministry. This book traces the history of this congregation and its service in the name of Jesus Christ through examining the families, the ministers, and their committed faith.
AVAILABILTY: Private Collection.
A copy may be seen by inquiring about the booklet from local members of the church

Celebrating 175 Years Frome United Church

Anniversary Booklet compiled by Karen Collard
Joseph Silcox came to Canada from Corsley, Somersetshire, England in 1817. By 1819, on land granted to him by Colonel Talbot, in the wilderness of Southwold Township, he established the first Congregational Church in Upper Canada. Read the history of the generations of families whose dedication has sustained this house of worship for so many years.
AVAILABILTY: Shedden Library, and copies are available by request at Frome United Church.

McBride’s United Church
Diamond Jubilee 1876 – 1936

This historical sketch was written by members of the McBride’s congregation in preparation for their sixtieth anniversary in 1936.This small congregation published this book to honour the pioneer folk, saintly men and women, who, as members of session, office bearers, and individual members of the congregation of the past sixty years, laid the foundations of the church. Read accounts and learn who these devoted Christian families were.
AVAILABILTY: Private Collection.
Inquiries may be directed to the Elgin Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society

Biographical Sketches of some of the residents of Elgin County

By the Beldon brothers ca. 1885 and reprinted by the Elgin County Library System in August 1972. Short biographies of some of the early families in Elgin and it is believed that the biography was provided and paid for by the biographee for inclusion in the publication.
AVAILABILTY: Copies may be viewed at St. Thomas Public Library, George Thorman Room, in the Elgin Branch OGS Collection, and Shedden Library.

The Life and Times of Albert W. Auckland

By Albert Wesley Auckland
This autobiography covers life on the farm, time in municipal politics, involvement with community organizations such as Junior Farmers and the Plowing Match, and dedication to his church and family. Albert was born, raised, and lived all his life on the family farm located between Talbotville and Paynes Mills and this book provides a snap shot of life from the 1920s onward.“Families and history have no end. I hope those that read this will receive some knowledge of...the times we lived in.”
AVAILABILTY: Shedden and St. Thomas Public libraries or from family members.

The Life and Times of Jabel Robinson

By Wayne Paddon, 1995
Jabel Robinson and his family moved from England to St. Thomas before Confederation. A noted social reformer and police chief, he served on the St. Thomas town council, the Southwold Township council, and represented Elgin West in the Canadian House of Commons from 1900 to 1904 as an Independent. This book reveals the many accomplishments of this truly remarkable person who left behind a legacy for local politicians, businessmen and farmers.
AVAILABILTY: Elgin County OGS website states it is available at the St. Thomas Public Library

A Pioneer History of Elgin County
Prize-winning school essays published by James S. Brierly in the Southern Counties Journal, St. Thomas 1896

In 1895 the Elgin Historical and Scientific Institute launched a history essay competition for school students. Gold and silver medals were to be awarded for written histories of school sections, towns, or townships. Early settlers were interviewed resulting in quaint anecdotes about Colonel Talbot, accounts of participants in the War of 1812, and great insight into Elgin County life in the 19th century. This published collection of essays offers rare historical value.
AVAILABILTY: Out of print. Can be seen in the Elgin County OGS Collection in the George Thorman Room, St. Thomas Public Library.

Ghosts of Elgin’s Past

By Hugh Joffre Sims
When Mr. Sims was a young man of sixteen in 1930 he began to write and collect historical data regarding Elgin County. He has preserved a wealth of information about the hamlets, villages, and corner settlements that have since disappeared into the mists of time.
AVAILABILTY: Limited quantities available on Amazon.ca. Can be found at Elgin County Libraries and St. Thomas Library.

Records of the House of Industry Elgin County, Vol. I 1876 – 1897 and Vol II 1897 - 1947

By James L. McCallum
Southwold Township was home to one of the earliest Houses of Industry in the province. It was situated were Elgin Manor now lies and was a county run institution for 35-40 male and female inmates who were approved by a committee of three and the county clerk. Reasons for admission were listed as: weak minds, idiots, insane, destitution, sickness, old age, intemperance, crippled, blind, pregnant, etc. These records provide insight into life within the home, the illnesses and medical problems encountered, and the treatments and attitudes regarding such conditions in these times.
AVAILABILTY: See Elgin County Branch OGS website –
https://www.elgin.ogs.on.ca/Home/ancestor-indexes/online-publications/house-of-industry-1876-1897 https://www.elgin.ogs.on.ca/Home/ancestor-indexes/online-publications/house-of-industry-1897-1947

Elgin County Sesquicentennial 1852 – 2002
A History of the Elgin County Pioneer Museum and Their Loyal Supporters, the Elgin County Women’s Institute Branches and St. Thomas IODE Chapters

By Luella Monteith, Joan Mansell, Mary Clutterbuck, and Terri Boloski This book, published in conjunction with the 150th birthday of Elgin County, honours the people who preserve the county’s history. How was the Elgin County Pioneer Museum started, and who was responsible? Learn about the Women’s Institute branches of Elgin County, and the IODE chapters of St. Thomas, and how they have faithfully supported the museum with their donations, volunteer efforts, and annual fundraising events
AVAILABILTY: Elgin County Museum, 450 Sunset Drive, St. Thomas

Final Descent – The Loss of the Flagship Erie

By Robert D. Schweyer
Southwold Township was the scene of both tragedy and mystery in October of 1941. What might have caused the American Airlines DC-3 to crash in Lawrence Station? This was a time before “black boxes” and DNA analysis. Read the accounts of several area residents who witnessed this catastrophe.
AVAILABILTY: For sale at Elgin County Museum. Copies available to view at the Shedden Branch of the Elgin County Library, and the Elgin Military Museum. http://www.elginmilitarymuseum.ca/

Historical Atlas of Elgin County, Ontario, Illustrated

By H.R. Page & Co. Toronto, 1877
This book is a superb snapshot of Southwold Township, and all of Elgin County from 1877. The atlas contains maps showing early post offices, churches, schools, cemeteries, roads, railroads and proposed railroads. Swamps, creeks, orchards, early industries such as blacksmith shops and brick yards can also be seen. There are illustrations of early farms, residences, and businesses, as well as portraits and short biographies of some early settlers. The section containing business advertisements offers great insight into the commerce of the time.
AVAILABILTY: St. Thomas Library and most Elgin County libraries. The maps can be found online at McGill University website: http://digital.library.mcgill.ca/countyatlas/primarysource.htm

Census Indexes

Are you curious to learn fascinating, detailed information about Southwold’s earliest residents? Do you want to know where your ancestors immigrated from? These Indexes from the 1800’s disclose family names, professions, trades, occupations, place of birth, religion, and a wealth of other intriguing information. Genealogy enthusiasts will find valuable family tree clues here. There are ten to find.
AVAILABILTY: Historical Atlas of Elgin County, Ontario, Illustrated, H.R. Page & Co., Toronto. 1877.
This atlas may be viewed at all local branch libraries, Elgin County Archives, and information may be found on the website of the Elgin County Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society.
ANCESTOR INDEXES - Elgin County Branch Ontario Genealogical Society

Shedden Cemetery, Southwold Township, Elgin County

All transcriptions for cemeteries in Elgin County have been published on the Elgin County Branch OGS website. http://www.elginogs.ca/Home/ancestor-indexes/gravestones
Photos and Monument transcriptions on line at http://cemetery.canadagenweb.org/ON/index.html
AVAILABILTY: Elgin County Library, Shedden or St. Thomas Public Library, George Thorman Room where the Elgin County OGS library collection is stored.
CEMETERY PROJECT - ONTARIO DIRECTORY http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cancemet/ON/index.html
OFCA Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid http://ocfa.islandnet.com//

The Hunter Families - 2007

By Robert A. Jones
This book is an extensive genealogical account of the descendants of David Fleming Hunter Sr., and Hannah Shipley of Nappan, Nova Scotia, whose five children, two of them with families, moved as adults to Upper Canada over the period of 1848 to 1868. Many descendants are scattered across Canada and the United States, but remain predominately concentrated in Southwold Township and Elgin County. Numerous family photos and character profiles are contained in the book. The Hunter Reunion is an annual gathering of this family.
AVAILABILTY: Available at Elgin County, Shedden and St. Thomas Libraries, along with earlier versions published in 1978 and 1988

Harvest of Memories
Elgin’s history through a Photographer’s Lens – Volume II

This is a stunning photographic history of rural and agricultural life in Elgin County. The photos are drawn from the holdings of the Elgin County Archives which include a number of Tweedsmuir books compiled by local branches of Women’s Institute (WI) beginning in the 1940’s.
AVAILABILTY: Can be purchased at Elgin County Archives, $15.00 includes GST

Glimpses Into St. Thomas Railway History Volume One
The Canadian Southern Railway

By Wayne Paddon
This fascinating story of power politics and intrigue tells how St. Thomas never gave up hope or support for a “southern railway” which would pass through Elgin County on a direct route from Windsor to Fort Erie. Eventually the dream was realized and St. Thomas grew into a bustling city almost overnight when the Canada Southern Railway came.
AVAILABILTY: Copies may be viewed at St. Thomas Public Library, George Thorman Room, in the Elgin Branch OGS Collection, or from Inter-County loan.

A Guide to Elgin County’s Natural and Cultural History

By Clifford Baron, Rebecca Stacpoole, Kettle Creek Conservation Authority
This book is a community collaboration involving local authors, naturalists and naturalist clubs, farmers, historic/cultural organizations, as well as conservation authorities. This written and photographic collection’s goals are to introduce residents and visitors to Elgin County to the area’s wealth of natural and cultural history, and to provide sources for further reference.
AVAILABILTY: Kettle Creek Conservation Authority

Photo Field Guide to Some Wildflowers of Southern Ontario
Photo Field Guide to Butterflies of Southern Ontario
Photo Field Guide to Some Caterpillars of Southern Ontario
Photo Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Southern Ontario

By Ian Carmichael and Ann Vance
Lifelong Southwold Township resident Ian Carmichael devoted his life to studying and photographing indigenous plant and wildlife of this region. These four handy pocket sized volumes contain an abundance of species detail accompanied by exceptional photographs.
AVAILABILTY: Contact via e-mail: stfnfieldguides@gmail.com or St. Thomas Field Naturalist Club Incorporated, P O Box 22092, St. Thomas, ON Canada N5R 6A1 Also available at Pinery Provincial Park and Rondeau Provincial Park Visitor Centres.