Home > History > History of Thornbury/Clarksburg

Thornbury, most likely named after the town of Thornbury in England, was first inhabited by Solomon Olmstead in 1848.  After being surveyed in 1833, the 900 acres of town plots lay vacant for years until water-power was harnessed by Solomon Olmstead.  Mr. Olmstead was the first miller of Thornbury and operated the largest mill located on the Beaver River.  Other prominent residents in Thornbury’s early history include: the Pedwell family; lumber barons who were well-known for building homes of grand stature, Thomas McKenny; the town’s first druggist and chemist, Dr. George Hurlburt; brother in law to Mr. McKenny and the towns first Doctor, and Mr. Snetsinger; another lumber baron and later mayor.  1856 saw the railway coming through from Barrie to Collingwood, which eased the distance with which residents had to travel to receive provisions and goods.  Captain Oldfield, who owned the first commercial fishing operation on Georgian Bay, built the 1st brick mansion in Thornbury.  This local landmark, situated on Bridge Street, still stands and is currently operated as a tavern and restaurant.

Placed just south of Thornbury, is the small village of Clarksburg, so named after Mr. W. A. Clark who built the first woollen mill in 1861.  This mill was one of the most important mills in the district and produced items such as blankets, tweeds, flannel, and other high end cloths.  Wholesalers in Toronto, Montreal, and Hamilton placed hefty orders to the mill, proving what a prestigious business the mill was.  In addition to Mr. Clark, other early settlers to Clarksburg include: Mr. William Marsh and his son Mr. W. J. Marsh; who moved from Thornbury to open a small shop, Mr. John Tyson: who ran and operated the flour mill, Mr. Thomas Tyson; brother to John who took over operation of the mill for many years, Mr. B. J. Marsh; who for a short while was postmaster and later moved to Peasmarsh Farm, and Dr. Hunt; The first Doctor of Clarksburg.  Two famous tight-rope walkers hailed from Clarksburg.  The first, Jack Dixon walked the rope across Niagara Falls, which was an amazing feat!  Also crossing the Falls, at a running pace of 2 minutes and 32 seconds, was Clifford M. Calverley.  He performed various stunts while rope walking across Niagara Falls, such as walking at night, eating on the rope, and hanging by one foot.

Ravenna’s first settlers were a man named Brock, George Walters, and Daniel Eaton; although, later Mr. Eaton moved to what is now named Heathcote.  Ravenna truly blossomed because of Mr. Walters; the first meeting of the Township Council was held at his home and he invested himself in the new habitants of the area.

Heathcote, first called Williamstown after William Fleming, was home to the district’s first post office.  The first postmaster was William Rorke, who with his family arrived in Heathcote during 1847.  As another town in Ontario had the same name, Williamstown was later changed to Heathcote.  William’s brother, Richard Rorke and his family was another early pioneer of Williamstown.  By 1856, town residents held their first fair, showcasing an assortment of grain, vegetables, and livestock.

The Town of the Blue Mountains was formed in 2001 when Thornbury and the Township of Collingwood were amalgamated.