Long-lost village of Stanton almost known by different name

August 21, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

Many Ontario towns were named after the original settlers who first staked a claim on the land, cleared the area for farming, and perhaps opened a general store.

Stanton, Ontario got it’s name when a judge made his decision to settle any future dispute between two founding families of the town.

The earliest settlers in the area, which is located on what is now Airport Rd., just south of Mansfield, were the Hands and the Walker families.

Why the name Stanton was chosen, is a mystery – at least it’s not recorded anywhere – although the town was indeed referred to as Handsville at one time, but it was an unofficial designation.

The two families arrived at the spot in the 1820’s and not long after a few buildings were erected.

That naturally caught the attention of others who moved to the area.

One of the first official buildings was the Orange Hall, charter number 80. It was given the go-ahead in 1831. The first Orange Halls was built on the 5th sideroad then later rebuilt in the centre of the village.

The town built a school house on the 5th in the early 1850’s, however it was a rather primitive log structure. They replaced it with a more up-to-date building in 1868.

By the 1860’s the town was booming. At least booming by early pioneer days standards.

Of course like any new town in Ontario, alcohol was a primary factor in getting things rolling.

In 1866, William Beatty arrived in town and built the Union Hotel, which also had a tavern and a store.

Mr. Beatty opened Stanton’s first post office the following year to really put the town on the map.

By this time in history Stanton had become somewhat of a stopping area for travellers. A second hotel was built in town by a man named James Walker.

Apparently people had money to buy things because a third store was opened by a man named John Arthur Love.

The local economy grew to include four carpenters, a wagon and carriage shop, two blacksmith shops, and even a dentist. The good folks of Stanton and area took care of their teeth.

By the mid 1860’s, the town had grown to a population of around 100 souls.

The glory years for the small town were the 1870’s, which saw more new businesses open shop.

Toward the end of the 19th century, the town added a butcher and a singing teacher of all things, who apparently did a brisk business teaching enthusiastic groups of up to 50 people.

In 1870, Stanton was chosen as the seat for a new court house

While the taverns in town provided what many people wanted, they also provided more than a fair share of alcohol induced rowdiness which concerned some of the more upstanding citizens.

Although a temperance movement was underway in 1900, a proposed law banning the sale of alcohol never passed.

With the prevailing attitude that his hotel and tavern was the source of much trouble, James Walker decided to get out of the hotel and alcohol business.

The turn of the century saw the town go into decline. The Stanton post office closed in 1915 and was replaced with rural mail delivery. The court house was closed in 1929 and the courts were relocated to Shelburne.

Over time most of the buildings were demolished.

One hotel stood up until just a few years ago. There was a plan to relocate it and preserve it, however funds dried up and the building was demolished.

The old general store is still standing and is now The Olde Stanton Store. It is a shop that sells a variety of artwork, crafts, and specialty items.

A walk through the store is a step back in time where you can walk across the 160 year-old floor boards and soak up the atmosphere of a long ago era.

Stanton’s history as a working town lasted only five decades, but many of its citizens went on to bigger achievements in the province.

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