PHOTOS: Aldershot has over 200 years of history and is still the ‘backbone’ of Burlington

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Published November 24, 2023 at 10:10 am

In 1899 the Aldershot train station looks a little different than it does today. Pictured here are members of the community who were not only intrigued by the arrival of the train, but also curious about the person taking the photo.

Most who live in Burlington will gladly proclaim the name when asked to declare their residency…accept those from Aldershot.

While the community in the west end of the city near the lakefront most certainly rests in the city known as Burlington — at least that’s what it says on the map — for those who live in Aldershot there is a certain proud distinction that separates them from the rest of the crowd.

“Hey, come on, it’s Aldershot, that’s where I live if you ask me,” explains long-time resident Bobby Bell. “Most people know us as a stop on the GO train line but if you live here it means something. We’re the backbone of Burlington.”

That loyalty to the community may have something to do with its history.

From the earliest of times, people of the First Nations populated the area due to its location to the water, relatively good climate, and the ability to farm the fertile land. It was a place where people came and tried to stay.

As one historical account points out, the area was where Indigenous peoples lived for thousands of years, falling into different hands, but becoming an attractive and distinct place to live.

The land was acquired by the government of Upper Canada through treaties in 1792 to help settle British Loyalists and members of the Six Nations after the American Revolution. After the land treaty, part of the area was known as Geneva Township and later East Flamborough Township.

One of the first European settlers to arrive in the 1790s was William Applegarth from England who was granted a parcel of land which he used to build a mill and farm.

Applegarth is credited with naming the community Aldershot after a town in England which itself was named after the alder tree found in that area (thus sparing the community from forever being known as “Applegarth”).

Again, the area prospered through its fruit growing with its harvest sold to an ever-expanding market both in Canada and into the United States. In the 1900s, Aldershot continued its prosperous times as a farming community often using skilled Indigenous labourers to help manage the crops.

With the eventual urbanization of the community, the farms started to disappear in the post-World War II years as subdivisions, schools and plazas started to appear. This is the Aldershot that many of today’s residents remember.

Politically, Aldershot (and what was still known as East Flamborough Township) was annexed by Burlington and became part of the larger town in 1958.

Throughout the the 60s, 70s and 80s Aldershot residents were content to live, shop and have fun in their community. And, because of the reliance on cars in those days, it was easy to drive into Hamilton for a movie or concert.

Aldershot has also been a place where future celebrities would also be reared. Comedian Jim Carrey attended Aldershot High School (the oldest continuous school in Halton Region) as did members of the new wave band Spoons. Even filmmaker Chandler Levack set her successful film I Like Movies in Aldershot.

Today, as the area matures and the names and faces of the community members change, there is still a strong sense of pride among residents, even for those who are new to Aldershot.

Loraine Little, who spent most of her formative years in Aldershot said those who have lived in Aldershot have a bond.

“It always felt like it was our own little universe here,” Little explained. “It wasn’t like the rest of Burlington, it was different. Even though I have been gone for a number of years if people ask where I am from I still say Aldershot.”

Here are some photos from the early days of Aldershot. Do you remember any of these places?

(Photos courtesy of the Burlington Historical Society)

 

Brown’s Wharf

 

Aldershot Bowling Club

 

Aldershot Contractors Equipment Rental in the 1960s

 

Aldershot Motors on Plains Rd. in the 1950s

 

Aldershot train station in 1899

 

Bailey Brothers garage in the 1940s

 

Huffman Drug Store and the Royal Bank in the 1940s

 

Plains Rd. and La Salle Park Dr. in 1957

Unsworth & Sons boiler building and greenhouses in 1997

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