Walkerville: 1700- 1882
small village, situated on the riverside, about a mile above Windsor.
It contains a distillery, carried on by Hiram Walker and Company,
a hoteḷ store, etc... and several tenements built by Walker and
Co. for the convenience of their employees, which number from eighty
to one hundred.
the County of Essex Gazeteer and General and Business Directory
for 1866-67 (Woddstock: Sutherland and Company, 1867)
before Hiram Walker bought the first of his many land purchases,
the inhabitants of the area that became Walkerville were Indians
of the Ottawa tribe under Pontiac.
1763, after failing to dislodge the British from Fort Detroit, Pontiac,
the Chief of all the Ottawas, apportioned several land grants on
the southern shore of the Detroit River to the French and English.
It is thought that the very site that was to become the future town
of Walkerville was formerly the Ottawa village.
transferred land to Lieutenant Edward Abbott of the Royal Artillery
Regiment in 1765 and to Alexis Maisonville. This constituted the
entire territory of the future town of Walkerville. In 1769, Abbott
transferred this land to Antoine Louis Labadie who deeded his land
to his wife and 9 surviving heirs. One daughter Phyllis married
John Hall and their son Eugene Hall received his mother's ninth
share after her death.
December 22, 1856, Hall sold this portion of land to Hiram Walker
who was based in Detroit but was ready to establish himself on the
Canadian side of the border. Walker favoured this location due to
the close proximity of the Great Western Railway, which increased
his market access into the British Empire.
1857, Walker obtained additional parcels of land from C.F. Labadie
and from grantors John Montreuil and Alexander Chapoton bringing
his land holdings in Canada to 468 acres.
Walker began clearing land along the riverfront to make room for
his distillery, a flour mill, as well as areas to hold hogs which
he sold to France and England after fattening them up with left
over mash from the distillery. Walker began building homes for his
employees and in 1858, Walkerton was born. In the 1860's, the names
Walkerville and Walker's Town were both used by the inhabitants
of this hamlet. On March 1, 1869, the name Walkerville was officially
sanctioned by Ottawa and the settlement was recognized as a post
1870, Walker established a church with a day-school in the basement
for his employees. By the winter of 1875, Walkerville was illuminated
by street lights erected at Walker's expense; he also built
a water system, a pumping station and a fire department.
1884, the unincorporated village of Walkerville consisted of four
streets extending north and south, and five running east and west.
Probably the first to be laid out was the Walker Road or Fifth Street
about 1860. West of Walker Road, and parallel, were Fourth, Third
and Second Streets (Monmouth, Argyle, and Devonshire). The east-west
streets were Sandwich (Riverside), on the riverfront, with Assumption,
Brant, Wyandotte and Tuscarora Streets parallel and south of Sandwich
distillery buildings were situated on the riverbank between the
main street (Sandwich) and the river. These buildings included the
feed mill and drying elevator, a ferry house by 1884, barber shop,
the grain elevator and malthouse, the Walker residence and driving
shed, various warehouses, waterworks, mill and distillery, boiler
house and rectifying still house and large lumber and coal yards.
the south side of Sandwich was a 3-storey structure built in 1882.
The first floor housed several stores, while the second floor was
the location of the Walkerville Music Hall, which served as a type
of community centre and could accommodate nearly 600 people.
located in this triangular area, bounded by railways tracks, Sandwich
Street, and Walker Road: a brick stable, several bonded warehouses,
a wooden firemen's hall and reading room, a little brick church,
a butcher shop, the fire engine house, a paint shop, a cooper shop
that manufactured all Walker barrels, a carpenter's shop, and the
Walker planing mill and stave factory.
the entire populace, which numbered approximately six hundred in
1882, were employed in some capacity by the Walker family in their
numerous enterprises. Only three industries existed in the settlement,
the dominant one being the Walker distillery and its associated
components, the Kerr Brothers Engine and Foundry Company, and the
Dominion Syrup and Sugar Refining company.
little village of Walkerville was about to experience a huge building
boom, and Walker wanted it to be a carefully planned community.
The Boom Years