Founding of Bolton – 1821

Founding of Bolton: millsite purchase

On June 5th, 1821 George Bolton purchased the 200 acre mill site, LOT 9 Concession 7 ALBION Township, from James Chewett, the Albion Township surveyor.  It is from this transaction that Bolton has evolved.

The following spring, George and his older brother James Bolton who had settled north-east of Bolton in 1819, started erecting a grist mill and dam.  The mill with one run of stone was a frame structure, at least two storeys high and likely protected by a gable roof and board cladding.  George also built a frame house.

In 1824, the mill went into operation powered by the Humber River

The hamlet called Bolton Hollow evolved slowly around Mill Street:

  • 1823  newlyweds Harriet Bolton and John Godbolt settled on the eastern edge of George Bolton`s property
  • 1830  George Bolton provided land and a log structure for a school
  • 1831  George Bolton built a log store
  • 1832  Government opened a Post Office  named  ‘Albion’; George Bolton  is appointed Postmaster; the Post Office is housed in his log store
  • 1834  Thomas Rodgers started operating an Inn and a blacksmith shop close to the river
  • 1834  Ann and Samuel Sterne built a log house; Sterne took over the store and Post Office

  • An early map of Albion Township showing the ownership of lots (numbered vertically) and Concessions (numbered horizontally).
  • James Chewitt is shown as the owner of Lot 9, Concession 7.

Bolton cira 1834

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Bolton`s Founder: George Bolton

What do we know about George Bolton?

  • George Bolton was born in Suffolk England, the youngest of 6 children born to James Bolton and Judith Mann.  He emigrated around 1816 to Jamaica, possibly via New York, and acquired enough money in the indigo trade to purchase the finest mill site in Albion
  • Reportedly a bachelor, George was known to be very hospitable to the myriad local farmers who came to the Bolton mill to have their grain ground
  • George lived in a frame roughcast house close to the mill and was known as Boss Bolton
  • He was apparently a precise and methodical man.  He must also have had physical strength, resilience and endurance to have coped alone running the mill
  • His nephew James Cupper Bolton became his assistant in the 1830s.  In 1842, George sold him the mill and then retired to a newly built, 3 room, plank-on-plank house on the mill property   
  • The 1851 census records that George was then living with his sister Rachel Godbolt on what had been their brother James Bolton’s farm 
  • George died on November 16, 1869 in Glendale ON, near Newmarket, at the home of James Cupper Bolton and Ellen Bolton

The map below shows the location of the East Anglican county of Suffolk in the UK relative to London.

A 1933 interview suggests there is more to know about George Bolton

      • Norman Bolton a  great-great-nephew of George Bolton suggested that prior to 1818, George had a disagreement with his father, apparently over an unsanctioned marriage which, in the end, did not last
      • Written out of his father’s will, George left England and travelled to Jamaica where he worked on an indigo plantation. 
      • George continued to correspond with his sister Rachel and through her, learned that his elder brother James had emigrated to Canada. 

What took BOLTON so long to grow?

  • By 1840, Bolton Mills could boast of the mill as well as 14 log buildings, two blacksmiths, two shoemakers, one tailor and a hotel.  It had taken almost 20 years to get to that point
  • Bolton’s growth had been impacted by several factors:
    • Impact of the survey
      • Bolton’s potential as a community was recognized at the time of the survey
      • The surveyor James Chewett surrounded the site with government-held property designed to provide income to the government or to reward high ranking military officers
        • See Survey: Bolton’s Mill Site was surrounded
    • Absentee land-owners
      • The government controlled land surrounding Bolton (Crown Reserves and Clergy Reserves, as well as 1000 acres of military grants) was not settled. 
      • Nearby land wasn’t being farmed and absentee landowners were not clearing their road allowances
      • road travel to the mill was a nightmare

Bolton circa 1842



  1. George Bolton, Mill Owner circa 1822
  2. Mill, built 1822-1823
  3. Harriet&John Godbolt c1823
  4. Log School c1830
  5. Log Store c1831/Post Office c1832
  6. Thomas Rodger’s Inn c1834
  7. Rodgers’ Smithy c1834
  8. Samuel Sterne c1834
  9. Charles&Catherine Bolton c1835
  10.  William Devlin, Farmer c1837
  1. George Evans, Shoemaker c1842
  2. Richard Paxman, Shoemaker c1839
  3. Paxman’s Tannery c1839
  4. Tailor c1840
  5. Store c1840
  6. Blacksmith c1840
  7. Sterne’s Hotel c1841
  8. Sterne’s Distillery c1841
  9. School, mudbrick c1842
  10. Primitive Methodist Chapel c1842

Bolton circa 1846



  1. James Bolton, Mill Owner
  2. Harriet&John Godbolt c1823
  3. Log Store c1831
  4. Post Office c1832
  5. Thomas Rodgers Inn c1834
  6. Rodgers’ Smithy c1834
  7. Ann&Samuel Sterne c1834
  8. Charles&Catherine Bolton c1835
  9. William Devlin, Farmer c1837
  10. Richard Paxman, Shoemaker c1839
  11. Paxman’s Tannery c1839
  12. Tailor c1840
  13. Store c1840
  14. Blacksmith c1840
  15. Sterne’s Hotel c1841
  16. Sterne’s Distillery c1841
  17. School c1842
  1. Primitive Methodist Chapel c1842
  2. George Evans, Shoemaker c1842
  3. Mill Worker Cottage c1843
  4. Congregational Church c1843
  5. George Bolton, retired c1843
  6. Thomas Prosser, Surveyor c1843
  7. William Flesher c1845
  8. Christ Church c1846
  9. William Hughes, Joiner c1846
  10. Hughes’ Cabinetmaking Shop c1846
  11. Matthew Gray, Brickmaker c1846
  12. John Tindall, Butcher c1846
  13. Francis McDonald, Cooper c1846
  14. Tindall Lundy, Blacksmith c1846
  15. Stephen Banks, Wagonmaker c1846
  16. James Bolton Mill c1846
  17. James Bolton Saw Mill c1846