Alliston Barrie Home Inspector

History

Alliston traces its history to three brothers, William, John and Dickson Fletcher. Dissatisfied with life in England, the three left for Toronto, working farms in Toronto Gore northwest of the city. In 1821 William purchased Lot 15, Consession 3, Tecumseth Township. He married in 1828, and in 1847 went scouting locations for the construction of a mill with his son John. The chose a location at Lot 1, Consession 1, Essa Township, at the corner where four of the original townships of southern Simcoe County (Adjala, Tosorontio, Essa, and Tecumseth) meet. In early November they built a cabin on the property, and the rest of the family joined them in April the next year. A larger house, known as Fletcher House, was built in 1849, and still stands at 18 Fletcher Crescent.

In 1853 the Fletchers built a grist mill on the Boyne River, a tributary of the Nottawasaga River which runs to the east. The first child born in the new town was Margaret Grant, who was later mother to Frederick Banting. An Orange Lodge was built in 1856, and the next year the members decided to name the village as Alliston. The precise origin of the name remains in some doubt, but the most common story is that it was named for James Banting’s birthplace in Yorkshire. A post office was set up the next year, with another Fletcher son, George, the first postmaster. Starting in 1862, George published “The Alliston Star” newspaper, which changed its name to “Alliston Herald” in 1871 and continues to be published today. The village was formally incorporated in 1874, with George Fletcher as the reeve.

In 1875 the town was approached by the North Simcoe Railway to run a line from Penetanguishene through Alliston to join the Toronto, Gray and Bruce Railway. This venture came to nothing, but the organization set up to investigate it later turned to the Hamilton and North-Western Railway to build a new arm from Clarkstown (now Beeton) through Alliston to Collingwood. The town raised $8000 for its portion of the railway from Clarkstown to Glencairn, about half way to Collingwood.

Alliston was upgraded from “village” to “town” in 1891. On May 8th the same year a fire started in the stables of the Queen’s Hotel, and was quickly spread by high winds. Collingwood was telegraphed for assistance and sent their fire engine by train, but the downtown area was gutted long before it could arrive. When it did arrive at about 3 in the afternoon, it was sent to the southern side of town where the fire was still burning. In all, 30 acres of the town were destroyed by the fire, which received the attention of John A. Macdonald. This led to the creation of a waterworks the next year, which included twenty fire hydrants, and the addition of a hook and ladder truck in 1894.

A census in August 1902 stated that 1,475 people were living in the town. A new line of the Canadian Pacific Railway reached the town in 1905 or early 1906, with trains arriving later in 1906. The local electric power company, Alliston Electric, was merged into Ontario Hydro on May 24, 1918.

Sir Frederick Banting

The most famous citizen of Alliston was Sir Frederick Banting the co-discoverer of insulin. The town’s only high school is named in his honour, Banting Memorial High School. Another famous resident was Theodore Loblaw of the grocery store chain.