The History of 

OLDE TOWN STONEY CREEK

The Village of Stoney Creek: Est 1786

War of 1812: The Battle of Stoney Creek

Establishing the 1st Women's Institute

The Battlefield Monument

The Famous Stoney Creek Dairy

Canada's 1st Drive-In Movie Theatre

Amalgamation of The City of Hamilton

See a History of The Stoney Creek United Church

Land Acknowledgment

The City of Hamilton is situated upon the traditional territories of the Erie, Neutral, Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Mississaugas. 
This land is covered by the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, which was an agreement between the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabek to share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes. We further acknowledge that this land is covered by the Between the Lakes Purchase, 1792, between the Crown and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. 

Today, the City of Hamilton is home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island (North America) and we recognize that we must do more to learn about the rich history of this land so that we can better understand our roles as residents, neighbours, partners and caretakers.

We stand in solidarity with murdered and missing Indigenous women, girls, transgender and two-spirit people.
 

The following are interpretations of the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant. There are various interpretations, but we offer these for your information. There is also a link to information on the Between the Lakes Purchase, 1792.

 

The Village of Stoney Creek

ESTABLISHED IN 1786

Early European settlers began moving into the area of Stoney Creek around 1786. Adam Green moved to the area in 1792 and built a mill on the creek, after his brother had already established a mill on the nearby Fourty. During the same year, the Stoney Creek chapel was built and the village of Stoney Creek became a gathering place for people from miles around.  

"Before 1815, the earliest church was on Ancaster road, as Hamilton was not yet a village. People came from Ancaster, The Forty, The Fifty, the head of the lake and far south on the mountain to the woodland chapel at Stoney Creek."

- Milton Watson, SC Historical Society, February 11, 1977

ABOVE TOP: Early Map of the Village of Stoney Creek (Source- Stoney Creek Historical Society) 

ABOVE LOWER: Painting of the Gage House by Sara Calder (Source- www.battlefieldhouse.ca) 

 

ABOVE: The Battle at Stoney Creek, C. W. Jefferys, 1813. Pen & Ink. (Source- www.cwjefferys.ca  ) 

Photo of Billy "The Scout" Green

 ABOVE: Billy "The Scout" Green,  (Source- Stoney Creek Historical Society) 

War of 1812

THE BATTLE OF STONEY CREEK

The famous Battle of Stoney Creek took place on June 6, 1813. The site of the battle has been designated a national historic site, as this battle marked the deepest inroad of the invasion of Upper Canada by the American troops. It is believed that British victory at Stoney Creek was a major turning point in the war. 

The story is that local resident, Isaac Corman was held captive by American troops, but convinced them to release him due to his relation to William Henry Harrison, an American politician. Isaac was given the American password for his travels home, which he passed on to his young brother in-law, Billy "The Scout" Green. Billy, who was just 19 years old at the time, quickly rode to notify the British troops, giving them advanced warning to attack the Americans. 

Billy then helped lead the British troops through the wilderness to where the American troops had set up camp and The Battle of Stoney Creek commenced just before daybreak. The British were victorious causing the Americans to retreat south, despite only having 700 soldiers against 3500 Americans.  

Visit Battlefield House & Museum to learn more about this historic battle or come watch the battle reenactment that takes place every year on the first weekend in June.  

 

TOP LEFT: Erland Lee (Source- Erland Lee Museum)  

TOP RIGHT: Janet E. Lee (Source-Erland Lee Museum) 

LOWER LEFT: Adelaide Hoodless with her children (Source-Canadian Museum of History) 

LOWER RIGHT: Adelaide Hoodless  (Source-wikipedia) 

Establishing the First

WOMENS INSTITUTE

The very first Women's Institute was founded in Stoney Creek over 120 years ago. In February of 1897, Adelaide Hunter Hoodless joined with local Stoney Creek farmers, Erland Lee and his wife Janet, creating this historic organization.

Their goal was to help educate women in rural communities, offering training in home economics, childcare and other farming duties performed by women at the time. Women's Institutes quickly spread, and there were 130 branches launched by 1905 in Ontario alone. 

This organization also spread globally, launching in England in 1915. There are now hundreds of thousands of women who belong to Women's Institutes all over the world. 

The Erland Lee home was sold to the Federated Women's Institute of Ontario (FWIO) in 1972 and converted to the Erland Lee Museum, which serves as an outstanding example of rural family life during the Victorian era. The house also serves as the headquarters for the FWIO. 

 
 

ABOVE: The Monument and Gage House at Battlefield Park, 1913. (Source-  ) ) 

ABOVE: The Monument on Smiths Knoll, 1910  (Source- Erland Lee Museum-virtualmuseum.ca)

ABOVE: A drone overlooking Battlefield Park, Sept 8, 2016  (Source-youtube, Mike Karschti

BELOW: A view of Battlefield Park and Monument,  (Source- Stoney Creek Historical Society) 

The Monument to 

THE BATTLE OF STONEY CREEK

The Wentworth Historical Society, formed in 1888, was the driving force behind erecting a monument to honour the soldiers that fought in the Battle of Stoney Creek.

 

However, tension quickly arose between the male and female members of the group when they could not agree on the site. The male members wanted to use the knoll located on the north side of King Street. This is where the American troops had placed their cannons and where the heaviest action took place. The women felt however, that the Gage House located across the street would offer a larger space for both a park and museum.

Sara Calder, the Great Granddaughter of Mary Jones Gage, served as President of the Ladies Committee on the Historical Society. Between 1894-1899 this group of women began to fundraise in hopes of purchasing and restoring the Gage farmhouse and opening a museum and eventually, under the leadership of Calder, the women formed their own historical group, The Women's Wentworth Historical Society. On October 3, 1899, the Battlefield Park was officially opened. 

The groups finally agreed on the construction of 2 monuments, one on Smith's Knoll, as well as the monument at Battlefield Park. The stone cairn and lion statue were installed on Smith's Knoll and unveiled on August 1st, 1910. The completed Battlefield monument was unveiled during the Centennial Celebration of the Battle of Stoney Creek on June 6, 1913 via transatlantic cable by Queen Mary in London.  Approximately 15,000 people attended the Centennial celebration at Battlefield Park. 

 

ABOVE: Stoney Creek Dairy Delivery Drivers and Trucks in front of the Dairy on King Street, 1930's. 

 ABOVE: The Stoney Creek Dairy- 1960 Brochure Cover  (Source-Vintage Hamilton Facebook)  

The Famous

STONEY CREEK DAIRY

The Stoney Creek Dairy was founded by George Dawson in 1929, collecting and bottling milk out of the family home on King Street. The Dairy Bar was opened on the same location in 1942 and continued to grow in popularity over the years, with a more modern facility being constructed in 1964. 

The dairy produced their own ice cream and other dairy products from local milk and milk they farmed themselves. These products were sold on site, as well as through various other retail locations throughout the Hamilton area. 

The Dawson family sold the Dairy in the late 90's. In the early 2000's the dairy received a massive renovation, that was in the end too costly and the dairy was passed between owners for several years until sadly, they closed their doors in 2012 and a defining era of Stoney Creek came to an end. 

The property was sold and the building was demolished in 2016, to make way for the new Amica Retirement Community Development. Amica has since opened a small ice cream parlour facing King Street, which is open to the public on weekends in the summer and filled with memorbilia of the original Stoney Creek Dairy. 

 

ABOVE: The Stoney Creek Dairy Ice Cream Bar  (Source- forum.skyscraperpage.com) 

 

Canada's 1st Drive-In

OPENS IN 1946

The Skyway Theatre opened for business on July 10th, 1946, as the very first Drive-In Theatre in Canada. Drive-In Theatres began opening across America in the 1930's, but didn't come into Canada until after the Second World War. 

The Skyway, on Highway 8 at Gray Road, featured a 100 by 50 foot screen, could hold over 700 vehicles and had loudspeakers for sound, but later had individual speakers for each vehicle.  The theatre remained open until 1975 and was later replace by the Fiesta Mall. 

If you would currently like to check out a Drive-In in Stoney Creek, visit the Starlite Drive-In at 59 Green Mountain Rd. East. 

ABOVE TOP: Cars parked inside the Skyway Drive-In on Highway 8 (Source- forum.skyscraperpage.com) 

ABOVE LOWER: The Skyway Drive-In Theatre (Source- Erland Lee Museum-virtualmuseum.ca) 

Amalgamation with 

THE CITY OF HAMILTON

In 2001, the City of Stoney Creek was amalgamated with the City of Hamilton. 
 

 
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A Piece of STONEY CREEK HISTORY

The original 1903 building, designed by church architect George William Hall (1852- 1935), is one of the remaining iconic features of the Olde Town District in Stoney Creek, with it's historic bell tower peaking above the centre of Olde Town. Despite the gargatuan brick addition added to the front of the building in the 1960's, the intricate stained glass, arching windows, peaked roof and church bell tower still serve as beautifully defining features of the historic King and Lake intersection.

  

The congregation is one of the oldest in Canada. The original Stoney Creek chapel was the second protestant church built in western Upper Canada, in the year 1792.  Many settlers in the area began gathering in Stoney Creek and decided to construct a building where they could meet and worship. The first chapel building stood on what is now the cemetery located on the south west corner of Centennial Parkway and King Street East. People would travel from miles around to attend service at this church. The building was a simple wooden structure and was actually in the midst of the historic Battle of Stoney Creek in 1813. It was damaged in the battle and repaired after the war.

"We were next ordered to Stoney Creek... In this place I saw a Methodist Chapel, the first I had seen in the country. It was converted into a barrack. The pulpit, altor and seats were torn down and mode into berths."

-from the Journal of George Ferguson, a solider in the War of 1812. 

 

As more modern and decorative churches were being erected in the area, attendance at the simplistic chapel declined and the building became neglected. It stood as ruin from 1860 until it was torn down in 1871. Only the fireplace remained until it too was demolished in the 1980's by William Nash.  A new church building was erected by the Episcopal congregation in 1869 on the north side of King St, just across from First St. S. and in 1889 the Wesleyan and Episcopal congregations united and both began attending the church at 8 King Street West. 

 

The congregation continued to grow and at a meeting in early 1903, John B. Smith & John B. Nash made a motion that a new church be built. The site of the former toll gate on the southwest corner of King Street and Lake Avenue was purchased from Mrs. Boden and members of the congregation enthusiastically assisted in the construction of the new church.

The building was a modified Romanesque design, by church architect George William Hall. The sanctuary provided seating for 250 and also included a basement with a central meeting room and six classrooms. One of the first babies baptized in the church was Florence Nash and the first wedding to take place in the new church was between Laura Smith and George Gage.

 

As attendance boomed in the 1950's and 60's additions were added to the building to accommodate the expanding congregation. The rear addition was added in 1953, and then in 1960, a new sanctuary that could accommodate up to 450 people was constructed around the majority of the remaining original structure.   

A later addition was added to the east side of the building in the early 2000's, officially covering any of the remaining original structure at ground level. However, the remaining parts of the nearly 115 year old structure that peer over the historic intersections of Olde Town Stoney Creek still serve as an iconic defining feature of our neighbourhood.

 

SOURCES:

-The History of The Stoney Creek United Church by Milton Watson- An Address to the Stoney Creek Historical Society on Feb. 11, 1977

-Vintage Stoney Creek Facebook

-Stoney Creek Historical Society

-more listings soon

ABOVE: Stoney Creek Methodist Church at King & Lake, before any of the additions

ABOVE: Stoney Creek Methodist Church at 8 King St W- built in 1869- Stoney Creek Historical Society

ABOVE: Illustration of the history of Stoney Creek United "Churches"-Stoney Creek Historical Society

 

ABOVE: Stoney Creek United Church at King & Lake,after the addition in the 1950's