Exploring Great Destinations in the Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada

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Home | All About Niagara | The History of Niagara | Niagara Townships

Niagara Township

Niagara Township was the first township in the County of Lincoln to be surveyed and settled. In 1789 a Land Board was set up and an area designated as Township No. 1 was surveyed.

Many of Butler's Rangers men took up land grants in the Niagara Township. Ex-militia were given the greatest land allotments, depending on rank. As fast as the survey could be completed choice lots along the Niagara River, Lake Ontario and the streams flowing into Lake Ontario were quickly snatched up.

The Four Mile Creek was at that time a swiftly flowing creek with pure spring water and was quickly settled with communities at St. David's and Virgil.

Daniel Servos, a Captain in Butler's Rangers built the first grist mill along the banks of the Four Mile Creek. He also built a large home on his property which came to be known as Palatine Hill, named after the Palatine Forest in Germany.

Township No.1 held it's first Township Meeting at Newark on Saturday, August 17th, 1793. Ralph Clench was named the Town Clerk, Peter Ball and Adam Vrooman were Accessors. Arent Brant was the Tax Collector, John Butler and Robert Hamilton were named Town Wardens, Peter Lampman, James Thomas and Arent Brandt were elected Poundkeepers. The positions of Overseers of Highways and Fence Viewers were filled by William Vanderclip, John Young, Adam Chrysler, Gilbert Fields, Stephen Secord and Cornelius Lambert.

Other settlers at that first meeting included Isaac Swayze, Elijiah Collard, Francis Loring, Daniel Servos, Jacob Ball, David Secord, James Durham, George Lawrence, James Clement, John McFarland, Adam Brown, John Freel and Samuel Cox.

Niagara Township would include such villages as Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake), Lawrenceville (now Virgil), St. David's and Queenston.

Francis Goring, a Major in Butlers Rangers built one of the first public schools of log timbers at St. David's in 1790. Prior to this most students were tutored in private homes or schools. By 1816 the log schoolhouse was replaced with a more suitable building.

This side of the Courthouse faces north and runs along Market Street while the front of the Courthouse faces Queen Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Niagara Township also possessed one of the first jails in the area. A Court House soon followed. The town of Newark was a bustling hub of activity by 1800 with many travellers seeking lodgings at the hotels and inns that were located in Newark. By 1810 there were six taverns and twenty dry goods stores. By 1847 a new Court House was built that faced Queen Street. Behind the Court House was a Market House along Market Street where vendors met to sell their goods.