Toronto Neighbourhood Guide


History of Burlington

In 1784, the British government granted 35,000 acres of land in what is now Burlington to the legendary Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea) in gratitude for his military service to the crown during the American Revolution. In 1800, Brant built an impressive colonial style house on his property overlooking Lake Ontario. The original Brant house is no longer standing however, a replica house built on the original site, is now the home of the Joseph Brant Museum, located at 1240 North Shore Blvd. East. Following Brant’s death in 1807, his family sold off his estate in small parcels. The subdividing of the Brant estate would then form the nucleus of the Burlington community.

Joseph Ireland, and his family, were among the first settlers to establish a permanent residence in Burlington, having emigrated from Yorkshire, England, in 1819. The Ireland family originally resided in a log cabin on their property. In 1837, a then prosperous Joseph Ireland, built Ireland House at his landmark Oakridge Farm. Ireland House, located at 2168 Guelph Line, is now a museum that offers a glimpse of what life was like back in the early days of Burlington. Most of the furnishings in Ireland House were donated to the museum by members of the Ireland family. Burlington’s first major industry was harvesting and exporting lumber, which was then shipped overseas for the building of sailing vessels. By the mid 1800s, Burlington had become an agricultural driven economy, with wheat as the primary export. Fruit and vegetable farms would also become an important staple of the local economy. Commercial canneries, ice-harvesting, and basket factories also helped to employ many of Burlington’s first residents.

The opening of the Queen Elizabeth Way in 1939, improved access to the City of Toronto and ushered in a new era of prosperity for Burlington. Gradually, Burlington’s farms gave way to industry. In the 1950s Burlington attracted many new residents thanks to an abundance of jobs. In 1958 the Burlington Skyway Bridge was completed, improving access to the city of Hamilton. That same year Burlington amalgamated with neighbouring Aldershot and Nelson Township. Burlington’s tremendous growth culminated in its incorporation as a City in 1974.


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