Our Community

Newcomers have always been, and continue to be, a driving force in Huron County. Huron has been welcoming newcomers throughout our community’s history. Since the early 1800s, thousands of people have come here and made Huron County home. Huron County continues to attract newcomers who

  • add their energy and vision
  • contribute to a high standard of living
  • create a society of peaceful inclusion
  • build a legacy for the next generation

We welcome you to Make Huron Home and continue this dynamic, pioneering tradition of building a community for generations.

History

Huron is a county rich with history, her people keenly aware of and fascinated by Huron’s traditions and heritage.

Early French explorers bestowed the name ‘Huron’ on the Wyandot First Nations people who lived at the upper end of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay.

The piece of land that eventually became Huron County was part of what was referred to as the Huron Tract. The Huron Tract area had been used by First Nations peoples for thousands of years as a tribal summer home for fishing and hunting. The area belonged to the Mohawk and Chippewa First Nations and, before them, to the Chonnonton.

The Chonnonton, an Iroquoian-speaking people, were known to the Hurons as the Attiwandaronk. In 1615, Samuel de Champlain named the Chonnonton “la Nation neutre” because they were living at peace with the Five Nations and the Huron. The first recorded European to reach the Huron County area was Etienne Brule, an emissary and translator for Samuel de Champlain.

The Huron Tract was purchased from the Chippewas of Chenail Ecarte, the Ausable River, and St. Clair River by the British Crown. The tract was then sold to the Canada Company around 1827. The Canada Company had been formed in 1824 by John Galt and other businessmen for the purpose of selling land in Upper Canada to colonists.

Various writers have presented Huron County culture and history to local and international audiences.

In 1832 Dr. William ‘Tiger’ Dunlop, one of the founders of Huron County, wrote a guide for newcomers entitled, Statistical Sketches of Upper Canada for the Use of Emigrants. Written under the pseudonym of  ‘A Backwoodsman’, the book mixes practical advice and humorous anecdotes. Dr. Dunlop’s memoir of the War of 1812, Recollections of the American War 1812-1814 was published in book form in 1905.

Seaforth author James R. Scott wrote extensively about Huron County’s history. In the epilogue to his book, The Settlement of Huron County published in 1966, Scott summarizes:

“Roughly, one can take 1830 as the real beginning of settlement in the county and 1880 as representing approximately the time when the county could be said to be fully settled and established in the pattern which exists up to the present time…

The Huron County pioneer always had his eye on the future… a future which the ensuing generations would build on a firm foundation of thrift and hard work and a sense of duty to his fellow man.

Huron County is still basically a place where people come to stay. It is by no means a quiet backwater cut off from the rest of the world. When a visitor comes to Huron County he does not feel that he has left the world behind but rather that he has come to a prosperous, progressive area, the kind of place where he would like to stay.

And this is precisely the dream of the founding fathers of a century and a half ago. The dream is a reality.”

Goderich-based writer Jim Rutledge completed The Men of Huron – A Book of Honour and Remembrance – 1939-1946 in 2009. Rutledge wrote the book in honour of the Huron County men who served in and never returned home from World War II.

Dave Gillians’ chronicle of the history of Bayfield, For the Love of Bayfield was published in 2012. For the Love of Bayfield tells of the contributions, experiences, struggles, and triumphs of early Bayfield settlers.

A Huron County book list presents a wide assortment of Huron’s history in print. We suggest a visit to the Huron County Library or a local book store to find any of the books mentioned above.

Huron County Today

Today, Huron County is the most agriculturally productive County in Ontario and a world leader in numerous areas of agricultural technology and innovation. Many descendants of the original 19th century settlers continue to farm and live in Huron County.

The history of Huron County is not just reflected in its agriculture. Heritage buildings, streetscapes and homes are also a common sight in the County’s towns, villages, hamlets and throughout the rural countryside. Many towns and villages have self-guided tours designed for appreciating these heritage buildings.

Huron County is proud of its heritage and culture. Not a day goes by that people aren’t coming together somewhere in the county for a celebration or event. Rodeos, threshers’ reunions, spring and fall fairs showcase our agricultural heritage. A Bean Festival, Cider Fests, and Maple Syrup celebrations share the wealth of good food grown and prepared in Huron County. The Celtic Festival, Canada Day Parades, and Writers’ Festival proudly display the best of all of the cultures that make up Huron County ancestry.

Huron County has many recreational and historical assets, which are an important part of our culture. They can be found across the county in our towns and villages, as well as along the country roads, and along the shoreline. Here are some of these assets to see and enjoy:

Many events such as the Celtic Festival in Goderich and the Muskrat Festival in Wingham offer residents and visitors fun local activities and entertainment. Writers’ festivals and book readings appeal to the literary set. There are local fairs, concerts, sporting events, horse racing, and motocross events. Church suppers and firemen’s breakfasts are popular, seasonal activities that many residents enjoy.

Art galleries and studios abound in towns, villages, and along rural roads. Creative independence is a definitive Huron County trait. Huron County museums proudly store and display our history as it continually evolves. Local live theatres encourage and promote playwrights in the production of Huron County and regionally inspired plays. Visit Ontario’s West Coast to find complete details.

The Huron County library has an extensive collection of books, reference materials, DVDs, and other media. Lots of low-cost or free activities happen at our public libraries. Examples include story time, book clubs and craft programs. Visit the Huron County Library for details.

The library is also a location where you can pick up your free copy of the Make Huron Home newsletters which highlight various aspects of Huron County’s culture, lifestyle, and traditions.

Current Make Huron Home newsletter

 

Past Make Huron Home newsletters

Visit any branch of the Huron County Library today to pick up your free copy of the Make Huron Home newsletter.

 

For a directory of shopping opportunities and a listing of restaurants in Huron County, check out the Business Directory, Taste of Huron, and Ontario’s West Coast.

Huron County's Cultural Mosaic

With a long history of immigration, variety of cultural traditions, and friendly atmosphere, Huron County will make you feel at home. Our cultural communities have been established by waves of immigrants; our population of about 60,000 comes from a variety of ethnic backgrounds:

  • English
  • German
  • Dutch
  • French
  • Flemish
  • Danish
  • Hungarian
  • Polish
  • Chinese
  • Spanish
  • Portuguese
  • Ukrainian
  • Greek

From the first wave of migration in the mid-1800s, to the ongoing trend of newcomers arriving from China, South Asia, Western Europe, the United States, United Kingdom, and Mexico, our many cultural traditions co-exist and mingle productively.

Huron County’s culture and population fact sheets, recently produced in early 2015, provide informative data on our demographics:

Languages in Huron

English and French are the two official languages of Canada; all Government of Canada services and documents are available in these two languages. English is the language most commonly spoken for business, education, and to access government and municipal services in Huron County.

However, with a cultural mosaic composed of diverse ethnic groups—due to our long history of newcomers making Huron County home–there are a wide variety of non-official languages being spoken in Huron County. The diversity of these non-official languages may surprise you.

Below are listed the top five non-official languages; visit Statistics Canada for a complete portrait of the many other mother tongues in Huron County.

Top 5 non-official languages in Huron County (Statistics Canada 2011 census profile)

  • 1.       German: There are 2,245 speakers of German as a first language in Huron County. The Township of Howick has the highest number of German speakers at 685.
  • 2.       Dutch: There are 1,410 speakers of Dutch as a mother tongue in Huron County. The Municipality of Central Huron’s Dutch speakers number 310.
  • 3.       Spanish: There are 125 speakers of Spanish as a first language in Huron County. The Municipality of South Huron has the highest number of Spanish speakers at 90.
  • 4.       Lao: There are 70 speakers of Lao as a mother tongue in Huron County. The Municipality of South Huron’s number of Lao speakers stands at 50.
  • 5.       Polish: There are 65 speakers of Polish as a first language in Huron County.  The Municipality of Bluewater has 20 Polish speakers.

Online Language Resources

For more information on our history and various cultural traditions, visit the resources below.

History and Cultural Resources

  • The Huron County Museum is a first-class community museum offering visitors modern exhibition galleries and professional support spaces in a climate controlled environment. Temporary exhibits cover a wide spectrum of subjects of special interest. Permanent exhibits depict the early settlement and development of Huron County. Visit the Museum and Gaol calendar of events.
  • The Huron County Gaol is a unique and imposing octagonal building which served as the County Jail from its opening in 1841 until 1972 when all inmates were transferred to regional facilities. The Gaol is now a National Historic Site. The building originally housed the County Courts and Council Chambers, as well as serving as Gaol and House of Refuge.
  • The Marine Museum is located in the wheel house of the “SS Shelter Bay” at the Goderich Harbour. This small museum is dedicated to the men and women who made their living on Lake Huron. Ocean going vessels from all over the world travel to Goderich to fill their holds with the locally mined salt and renowned Huron County grains.
  • The Huron County Library provides access to the world of information and ideas to all residents of Huron County. The library is committed to building strong communities by ensuring universal access to information for cultural, economic, educational, and recreational development. The Newcomer Settlement Collection is a new collection consisting of stories and resources relating to the immigrant experience. The collection includes a variety of books, audio books, and English as a Second Language (ESL) resources that will help ease a newcomers’ settlement in Huron and enhance their language skills if needed.
  • The Huron County Historical Society: the purpose of the Huron County Historical Society is to discover, collect, preserve, and perpetuate historical information related to the discovery and settlement of Huron County.
  • The Huron County Genealogical Society: For many years, the Ontario Genealogical Society has been working to encourage, bring together, and assist people interested in the pursuit of family history. We do this with the hard work of many volunteers who work on heritage projects and help uphold genealogical standards.
  • The Huron Arts and Heritage Network, officially incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in December 2010, fosters growth and success by providing support and services for its members in the arts, culture and heritage community of Huron County.
  • Creative Huron represents a repository of our creative, and heritage assets,  talents and features. Huron County is a rural region with a rich history and compelling future.  Providing an online resource and database for our residents, visitors nd businesses to access this information is an important accomplishment for our community and our partners.