Dundas, Ontario lies at the bottom of the Niagara Escarpment at the edge of Lake Ontario, earning it the nickname of The Valley Town. Its quiet streets are lined with historic buildings that are home to vibrant arts, culture, and plenty of local businesses..
Located in picturesque Dundas valley, the town that shares its name welcomes residents and visitors to peruse the tree-lined streets and enjoy the local ambiance with a warm welcome. While downtown shops and restaurants offer a great venue for getting together with friends or family, the many nearby natural attractions are a great place for recreation, year-round.
Read on to learn about the history of Dundas and how it developed in the charming modern town it is today. With 30 years of experience helping people in the Greater Toronto Area buy and sell real estate, you can reach out to us with confidence if you’re thinking of buying a home and moving to Dundas.
The History of Dundas, Ontario
Located on the western shores of Lake Ontario between two faces of the Niagara Escarpment, it’s no surprise that Dundas was an attractive location for settlement in Canada’s early history. Although not incorporated as a town until the mid 1800’s, Dundas has a long history and a pivotal role in the region’s development.
Named after a military road in the area, significant settlement began in Dundas in the late 1700’s. The military road in question spanned from Cootes Paradise on Lake Ontario to the Thames River which stretches across south-western Ontario.
Canada’s first Lieutenant-Governor ordered that a modest portion of land in the region be set aside for a settlement. That settlement became the town of Dundas. Both the road and the town at its terminus was named in honour of Henry Dundas, an English Secretary of State. Many other towns, streets, and public works bear the statesman’s name across Canada.
Settlers began coming to Dundas in the late 1700’s. Fertile soil and abundant waterways made Dundas an attractive place for farming and other industries. The town quickly grew in popularity as locals discovered its potential.
Although an early advantage for Dundas was a canal which opened there in 1832, it was overtaken by Hamilton when the Great Western Railway chose to set up operations there.
Although the railways didn’t stop in Dundas, the town still benefited from this important piece of infrastructure. Various industrial facilities were built to support the railway company. These included factories that built machine tools, boilers, and engines.
Further industrial development came in 1863 when John Bertram and Sons began manufacturing equipment and tools used for the various industrial enterprises in the region.
More industries followed, helping ensure a bright future for Dundas. These industries supported the local economy for over 100 years and contributed to Canada’s economic growth. The Bertram company remained in business until the 1980s.
Today Dundas, Ontario bears little resemblance to the town it was in the industrial days, with manufacturing and factories replaced by housing, retail, and culture. Many of the old industrial buildings have been replaced, although the town still has some great examples of Victorian homes and workers’ cottages to experience.
Like many Ontario towns, as manufacturing became less important different industries came in to take its place. Tourism and service industries are the primary sources of local employment, and while historic buildings remain in the city centre most of the town’s residents live in modern suburbs around the periphery.
Still, heritage is strong in Dundas. The town’s former town hall is one of Ontario’s oldest surviving municipal buildings. The region is known for extensive greenspace, access to nature, and the Niagara Escarpment, not to mention the many renowned local greenhouses. Local events like the Cactus Festival bring residents and visitors together every August, and the community spirit is welcoming year-round.
Although the early years in Dundas were dominated by heavy industry, manufacturing, and agriculture, the modern era in this part of Ontario looks much different.
Since it is in such close proximity to Hamilton, Ontario and GTA towns like Burlington and Mississauga, many residents commute to work in parts beyond. The jobs available locally are largely connected to the service industry and leisure activities, with local business and some tourism also contributing to the job pool.
Amenities in Dundas, Ontario
Local amenities abound in Dundas.
The town has several community centres, offering sports league, classes, activities, and facilities for recreation, year round. A number of private venues also cater to sports activities like golf, tennis, curling, and more.
Dundas also has the requisite schools, both primary and secondary, as well as hospital and other essential modern amenities.
In terms of opportunities to enjoy nature, Dundas makes use of its gorgeous valley setting with several parks and conservation areas in town or close by. Dundas Peak and Dundas Valley Conservation area are just a few of the places residents can enjoy hiking, cycling, or cross-country skiing in the winter.
Some might say Dundas, Ontario offers the perfect blend of community and size. With around 25,000 residents, there’s enough going on to keep residents occupied, but the town isn’t large enough to have big-city inconveniences like traffic.
In addition to the town’s rich heritage which you can soak in by walking the historic streets, museums like the Dundas Museum and Archives offer a deep dive into the region’s past.
Residents also prize their connection to nature. The Bruce Trail Conservancy is one of the best ways to explore and learn about the Niagara Biosphere and it’s ongoing conservation efforts.
Like most Ontario towns of its size, Dundas has a historic city centre with great examples of Victorian buildings and worker’s dwellings from days past, with a new, more suburban development growing around the periphery.
Most homes in the area are single-family detached dwellings, with townhomes in second place and high-density housing virtually non-existing in the area. In short, Dundas is a great place to buy a house if you’re looking for a bit more space in a warm and welcoming community.
If you’re taken with the urge to explore real estate in Dundas, let us know if you have any questions. With 30 years of experience helping 1,000’s of GTA residents buy and sell property, we can address any pressing questions you may have.
Contact us to get started on your real estate journey in Dundas or call us at (416) 917-5466. One of our representatives would be happy to assist.