Doors Open: Walton
JOHN HEWITT NAMED the village Walton after his native village in Buckinghamshire, England. Hewitt had sailed for Canada in 1843, settling first in York County for four years. Land Registry records show that Hewitt purchased Lot 1 Concession 18 Grey Township in 1856. He had his corner section surveyed into townsite lots in 1862. A post office was opened that same year and also named Walton. In the 1850s, however, many settlers had come to this area which was then called Biggar's Corners after the local tavern owner, George Biggar.
Kenneth McLeod operated a public house in Walton called the Rob Roy House, but it had disappeared by the time taverns were licensed in the 1850s-or perhaps was then known under another name. In 1854 Nesbit Biggar bought Lot 1 Hewitt Survey, which indicates that those who had kept a hotel before this date did not own the land. From that date to 1880 there were many names associated with the hotel either as bartenders or tenants. In February 1857, George Biggar applied for a tavern license for the Biggar Hotel. It was also known at one time as the Exchange Hotel, the Victoria Hotel and the Royal Hotel. During the 1880s, many oyster suppers were served at what was then the Royal Hotel operated by William Biernes. Opposite this hotel was a tavern called the Walton Hotel, owned in 1862 by John Swallow. Travellers to the area were provided board, bed and bar at these two hotels.
The old Biggar Hotel was converted to apartments in the 1920s. The three Driscoll sisters, Margaret, Susan, and Ida, operated a dressmaking shop in the hotel. A barbershop in the same building was operated by Peter McTaggart and a Dr. Robinson had an office and rooms here for a time. In 1928, J.S. Lawrence Cummings bought the building and converted it into a garage while living in upstairs. In 1930, he tore down the large brick building that had for so long served as a hotel and erected a new steel garage.
The first log schoolhouse was built in 1860 and residents could attend Methodist, United Presbyterian or Presbyterian Church. St George's Anglican Church arrived in 1880.
Mary A. and William Henry Humphries bought Lots 4 and 5 in 1885. He set up a blacksmith shop on Lot 5, but event-ually moved it northeastward and built a store on the site, a 2-storey brick building. Almost everything necessary in those days could be purchased over its counters while hanging outside just as you came in were boots, halters, strings of bells, etc. The inside walls were lined with calicoes, soft cashmere, Paisley shawls, sewing notions and thread, cake tobacco, dishes, crockery, molasses, raw sugar, pewter mugs, rock candy and gum, bins of flour, medicines and liniments.
Walton had many of the usual trades of the time: wagon and carriage makers, blacksmiths, harness, and cooperage shops; livery stables; flax, grist, saw and chopping mills; a brickyard and a cheese factory; a number of shoemakers, weavers, dressmakers, tailors and milliners; and, a medical as well as a veterinary doctor.