Paisley - Then & Now

Queen Street looking south from North Street

Paisley - Then and Now

Extracted from the files of the
Paisley Advocate - February 1890


After the advent of the train, and regular runs through Paisley in 1872, a period of wonderful activity began. Buildings went up right and left, property rose rapidly in value and a general era of prosperity was inaugurated. Property changed hands and industries that were crippled because of the lack of capital to conduct them, fell into the possession of others who were able and willing to push ahead and soon what was formerly an unpretentious village paying its taxes into a township treasury and doing its statute labour like any other country corner, felt big enough to run a show of its own. In the year 1873 steps were taken to form a separate municipality, and with the beginning of 1874, it entered upon a new era.

From 1874, steady progress was made in spite of the period of depression which began to set in and which culminated in the summer and fall of 1877. Times began to brighten in a couple of years, and the hum of prosperity which became general over the Dominion did not make any exception of Paisley. But with the vigorous railway policy of the Government which caused a boom in the northwest, a heavy immigration began which made itself felt in this vicinity. Many valuable citizens left the place, and real estate fell in value, but we are not aware that Paisley suffered much worse in this respect than the average Ontario village. The last number of years has witnessed substantial progress. . . The large flour mills of Mr. James Stark, as well as those of Messers. Fisher with the extension and improvement of industries already in existence have added very much to the business of the place. Our crowning improvement has been the splendid system of waterworks, which was put in a little over a year ago, and this with increased financial and business facilities cannot fail to attract manufacturers. The large number of splendid residences lately erected, is also a marked feature of the improvements which have been going on.



Paisley as seen today is a handsome town at the confluence of the Teeswater and Saugeen Rivers, while at a very short distance two other streams, the Willow Creek and Lockerby River empty in the united rivers and flow on under the name of the Saugeen. Around it the country is beautifully diversified with hill and dale and in the summer season its general air of natural beauty is enchanting.

lt is the centre of a splendid farming country and possesses natural resources which if properly developed, would make it a regular hive of industry. While waterpower is used in driving considerable machinery, the whole of the Saugeen flows past with not a pound of its water utilized for motive purposes.

There are at present two large roller mills, three saw mills, two sash and door factories, one furniture store, one furniture factory, two splendid woolen mills, one foundry, one pork packing establishment, one tannery, two carriage shops, six blacksmith shops, four shoe shops, nine general stores, ten groceries, three bakeries, three butchers, five hotels, and other businesses


Saugeen River showing Public School,
prior to 1913

1974 - taken from the Paisley Advocate Files. January 3, 1974.


With the Christmas and New Year's celebrations over and life in the village back to normal, interest should now centre on the official observance of Paisley's 100th birthday, the weekend of August Znd to 5th,

Appropriately, a new spirit of optimism pervades the village at the opening of this auspicious year, with its omens of progress and development. From the day Simon Orchard and his family beached their raft on the north side of the Saugeen River, just east of the town hall, in April 1851, the pioneer village grew rapidly. By 1873, just 22 years later, a census revealed that there were 1,038 inhabitants in the village. A petition for incorporation was presented to county council, and on June 7th, 1873, a by-law was passed incorporating the village and directing that a municipal election be held on January 5th, 1874 at Graham's Hotel with Edward Saunders as returning officer. Elected were James Saunders, reeve, and Duncan Fisher, Alex Colborne, Wm. M. Smith and Robert Porteous as Councillors. Obviously they and their successors were capable, progressive administrators for in the fall of 1876 the present town hall was built, and in December 1887 an excellent system of waterworks for fire protection was installed, at a cost of $6,500.

As the village continued to prosper, the population increased. Actual census figures are not available, but old-timers have quoted probably-exaggerated figures varying from 1500 to 1900 as the eventual top population about the turn of the century.

Whatever the number, a tragic decline followed in the early 1900's as local industries failed and hundreds of district residents emigrated to the newly opened areas of the west, and ultimately the population here dropped to 700.

Today, 123 years after the first settlers arrived, Paisley‘s fortunes appear to be on the upswing again.

As the village enters its second century of incorporation, the municipality is experiencing another period of expansion and progress. It's three major industries ~ Bruce Packers Limited, N.E. Hagedorn & Sons Limited and Paisley Brick and Tile Co. are sound and developing, under capable, experienced and knowledgeable management. The commercial enterprises are providing adequate, competitive services and enjoying good patronage.

Official figures released in September revealed that Paisley led all villages in the county in population increase in the previous 12 months, and for the first time in over 75 years had passed the 900 mark.

The increase is due in some degree to the Douglas Point Nuclear Power construction project, which has brought a fine type of citizen to the village. But many other families from city and rural areas have been attracted to town by the lower property values and cost of living, and the fact that efficient municipal administration has maintained the tax rates and service costs at reasonable levels, despite the increased spending for expansion of services, dictated by the influx of new residents.

New housing developments have opened up areas in the village which residents in their wildest dreams had never envisaged as residential property. Streets have been built and water and electric services

Paisley Town Hall

Return to top of Page
An Historic Album of Paisley
Return to top of Page