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The Heart of Town: Main Street and the Mills

Updated: Sep 18, 2021

Although this street corner may look nondescript to you now, it was once the bustling centre of town. Old Yonge Street functioned as Main Street, and it featured many establishments, including 4 hotels, a blacksmith, and many other stores and homes.

The red brick building you may see across the street is known as “Holland Court”, despite not being a court at all. The building itself was a normal home built in 1820 and was a family home- the name “Holland Court was given in 1911 by Sydney Goodwin, a resident of the house- perhaps they wanted an elegant name for the house!

With the extension of Yonge St, the building of a railroad, and a massive increase in residents, Holland Landing grew massively. At this time, it was incredibly important for towns to have a local grist mill so that the residents could easily access flour and grains. The river provided a fantastic spot for multiple mills to spout up around the town. By 1846, there were 2 tanneries and a fulling mill on the Holland River. During the mid-1800s, Holland Landing was one of the biggest towns in Upper Canada, with a large combination of woolen, grist, flour and sawmills.

With the increase in mills also came updates in technology, and the 1860s brought steam-powered mills to the town.

All good things must come to an end, however. The departure of one of the biggest mill owners in town caused a domino effect of other business owners to leave, meaning that by the end of the 1800s, Holland Landings population was a mere 300.

Today, we are starting to see a return to the hustle and bustle of early 1800's Holland Landing.

Black and white photo of Holland Landing near Red Mills Site showing bridge, river, houses, and fields.

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