Bronte is the community that makes up much of the west end of Oakville, in Ontario, Canada. Twelve Mile Creek (known informally as Bronte Creek) flows through the middle of town and empties into Lake Ontario. Main roads include Bronte Road (north-south), Lakeshore Road West (east-west, parallel to Lake Ontario) and Rebecca Street (east-west). Streets in the business section include Lakeshore, Jones, Marine, and Ontario Street. Bronte is also accessed via a superhighway (the Queen Elizabeth Way) located to the north of the former village. Riggs Road was planned but never opened. Other main roads include Third Line, Speers Road and Burloak Drive to the west (the latter was named after the boundary of Burlington and Oakville.)
Bronte is a former fishing village which became annexed in 1962 with the former Township of Trafalgar, forming the Town of Oakville, along with the other formerly autonomous communities, including Sheridan.
Founded in 1834, Bronte began as a small fishing village at the mouth of Twelve Mile Creek. The name Bronte was chosen as a tribute to the British Naval hero, Horatio Nelson, who was made Duke of Bronte by King Ferdinand III of Sicily. Bronte's etymological root is the Greek word βροντή which means thunder.
Some of Bronte's original settlers were United Empire Loyalists and many of the streets were named for these founding fathers: Sovereign, Hixon, Nelson and Belyea.
One of the early industries in Bronte was stonehooking. Boats would gather stone slabs from shallow waters near the shore by hooking them from Lake Ontario for use in construction. The building at 49 Bronte Road built circa 1840 still remains as an example of construction using material stonehooked from the lake.
Bronte's first harbour was completed in 1856.
In the 1920s, Middle Road was built with 3 interchanges including Service Road. Middle Road became part of the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) in 1939.
In the mid-20th century, Cities Service built a refinery just south of the QEW, west of Bronte Road. The refinery was later acquired by British Petroleum and subsequently, Petro-Canada. Another refinery to the west was built by Shell with its entrance off Rebecca Street. The Shell Refinery ceased operations in 198_. The Petro-Canada refinery was decommissioned in 2009 and now is a bulk storage facility.
Streets in Bronte are numbered from east to west and lettered from A to L (or N?) from north to south. A housing boom started in the late 1950s south of the QEW. Starting in the late-1980s, housing developments began north of the QEW and westward towards Burlington.
In the 1960s, a highway linking north to Milton (Highway 25) moved from Guelph Line to Bronte Road. Later in the 1980s, an interchange for Burloak was added. This major arterial route is now not legally a highway, but a "regional road" but is, in fact, called "The Veterans Highway."
In the 2000s, a new two-lane bridge was built to connect New Street at Mississaga Street and Rebecca Street at Bronte Road.
A community called Lakeshore Woods was built where the former Shell refinery was located. Construction began in the 2000s and is planned for completion by 2010.
In early March 2006, Stoneboats restaurant, which was partly located in one of Bronte's most historical buildings (built in circa 1840), suffered heavy fire damage and was rebuilt. A large portion of the historical part of the building was destroyed.
In summer 2008, Fernbrook Homes announced a new 10-storey condo project called The Shores at the intersection of Bronte and Ontario, overlooking the harbour and adjacent to the Stoneboats property.
In April 2009, the Bronte Business Improvement Association and the owners of the Bronte Village Mall presented a proposal for revitalizing the mall which includes residential, office and retail space, although it appears that the height of the new proposed structures does not conform to local bylaws.
The primary source for basic documents (vital statistics, land records, wills) for people who lived in the Province of Ontario is the Archives of Ontario, 134 Ian Macdonald Blvd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M7A 2C5.
Civil registration did not begin in the province until 1869. Before then there may be church records of baptisms and burials. For the most part these are still held by the denomination who recorded them. Copies of marriage records made pre-1869 had to be sent by individual clergymen to the registrar of the county in which the marriage took place. These marriage records are available through Ontario Archives, on micorfilm through LDS libraries, and on paid and unpaid websites, but because they were copied at the registrars' offices, they cannot be considered a primary source.
Vital Records after 1869
Birth, marriage and death registrations are not open to the public until a specific number of years after the event occurred. Births to 1914 are now available [October 2012]; dates for marriages and deaths are later. Birth and death registration was not universally carried out in the early years after its adoption. Deaths were more apt to be reported than births for several years. The more rural the area, the less likely it would be that these happenings were reported to the authorities.
Land Records and Wills
Information on how to access land records and wills is best sought on the Archives of Ontario website. An ancestor's land holding might be found on Canadian County Atlas Digital Project if he was in occupancy circa 1878.
Association for the Preservation of Ontario Land Registry Office Documents (APOLROD). A list of Land Registry Offices for all Counties of Ontario.
The original censuses are in the hands of Library and Archives Canada. All of the original census (1851-1911) images are online with the exception of that for 1861. Not all of them are indexed. Later censuses are not yet available. Census divisions were redrawn as the population increased and more land was inhabited.
E-books and Books
Some websites with more local information on Halton County