Newcastle is a small suburban town in eastern Durham Region that is often cited as an underappreciated gem for southern Ontario living.
Located just 80 km east of Toronto, around 20 km east of Oshawa, and right off the 401, Newcastle is especially popular amongst retirees. Real estate here is a popular investment as the town continues to grow as suburbs develop along the periphery.
Located between Bowmanville and Port Hope near the eastern border of Durham Region, Newcastle offers a genuine small town feel just outside the metropolitan hustle and bustle of the eastern Greater Toronto Area.
Read on to find out more about life in this small Ontario village and learn about the attractions, amenities, and real estate opportunities you’ll find in Newcastle, Ontario.
For families, Newcastle offers the impossible. An opportunity to live in a small, friendly, close-knit community that’s conveniently connected to the big city. For retirees, Newcastle similarly offers the peace and quiet of secluded country living, but since Toronto & The GTA are just a short drive away residents are never too far from friends and family in the big city.
Most of Newcastle’s urban development lies North of Highway 401, although a pocket of development on the shores of Lake Ontario continues to expand around Bond Head. While tourism in the town is scant, most residents probably don’t mind it that way.
As one resident is quoted as saying, “It’s the opportunity to live country lives together,” that Newcastle residents love.
Today, Newcastle is part of the Municipality of Clarington, one of 8 municipalities in Durham Region. While the municipality dates back to 1974, the town of Newcastle’s history stretches back much further.
The first western settlement in what is now Newcastle, Ontario was carried out by Irishman Richard Lovekin in 1796. Back then the shoreline of Lake Ontario was serene and undisturbed by settlement. Fertile land and wildlife stretched as far as the eye could see, presenting the Lovekin family with an ideal venue to start a life as farmers in the new world.
Astoundingly, the family still lives on their original farm today, occupying the land for over 200 years. Outside of Quebec, it’s the longest tenure on a piece of property in all of Canada.
The Lovekin family wouldn’t stay secluded for long. Other settlers recognized the potential of this stretch of fertile land along the lake, and Newcastle’s settlement and development really began in 1833 when Stephan Crandell opened a forest tavern.
The tavern was located near present day King Ave. and Mill Street, and it attracted more entrepreneurial settlers like Ezra Shelley, who opened a local store nearby.
Their settlement became known as Crandell’s Corners while Port Bond Head began to develop just a bit further south. Adjacent settlement along the water would prove to be instrumental in Newcastle’s development as ports and waterways were crucial to political and economic growth at the time.
While the settlers originally envisioned a bustling harbourfront which would consume Crandell’s Corners to the north, their vision never came to fruition as York (Toronto) to the west would instead serve as Canada’s economic hub in the long term.
Regardless, by 1851 Bond Head and Newcastle amalgamated into a singular community known as the Village of Newcastle. Despite the clerical change, Bong Head retains its name to this day.
Growth in Newcastle was fuelled by the arrival of the Grand Trunk Railway. One of Canada’s largest wool mills, a large patent medicine business, and Daniel Massey’s agricultural equipment supplier were all set up around this time. They grew so much that by the end of the century they all moved to Toronto.
Although population swelled with the increased economic activity, it soon shrank down again as big business left for green pastures. Two fires near the turn of the century left the village in turmoil, and the locals were content to let the town continue in obscurity as a little known place to live away from the bustling metropolis developing to the west.
Today, much of Newcastle’s history is maintained through a variety of plaques and historical buildings found throughout the town. The town has comfortably moved on to become a quaint small town on the outskirts of the GTA. Following a residential boom, many residents here today are retirees and families looking for a slower pace of life outside the city, while perhaps still commuting to work in nearby Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, or even Toronto.
Real estate in Newcastle reflects the ongoing shift occurring in most Ontario towns of its size.
In the city centre you’ll find historical buildings within the ubiquitous “main street” city layout while suburbs and more modern commercial properties expand out into the periphery.
The vast majority of available real estate in Newcastle, Ontario is categorized as single family detached homes. Other attached dwellings make up a marginal proportion of available real estate, making Newcastle a great place to consider buying for those who are in the market for a little slice of paradise outside of the big city.
Many of the properties in Newcastle feature backyards and driveways, these serving as suitable amenities for a city where many working aged people commute to work by car.
Still, relics of the past remain in Newcastle, reminding current residents of the town’s rich history. The main building of the former Massey Complex, for example, now serves as an apartment complex behind one of the town’s major grocery stores.
Only recently has Newcastle been shifting away from being characterized as a sleepy retirement community on the shores of Lake Ontario. With this increase in a younger population, Newcastle’s economy has shifted more towards service industries, small business, and tourism.
With a population of around 10,000 permanent residents, its economic potential can’t be compared to nearby cities like Oshawa, although farming, agriculture, and similar industries still prevail in the surrounding area.
Local residents find jobs in the downtown core or surrounding businesses, or commute out of town for work.
While Newcastle may have once enjoyed a reputation for being a retirement community, over half the population are working aged adults or families. These demographics lend Newcastle a friendly, small town atmosphere which more often than not suits the residents just fine.
This picturesque community is best known for a charming and historic downtown, picturesque surroundings, and a “best-kept-secret” port and marina, which attracts many boating enthusiasts from around Lake Ontario.
Outside of local community centres, green spaces, and outdoor recreation, Newcastle is known for being home to some of the best fishing on Lake Ontario. Nearby Wilmot Creek in Samuel Wilmot Nature Area hosts anglers from across Canada and the region, spanning 77 hectares that provide some truly spectacular wildlife experiences.
If you’re interested in learning more about Newcastle, Ontario real estate, get in touch with one of our experienced agents. They’ll be sure to answer any questions you may have regarding buying or selling real estate in the region, having decades of experience helping 1,000’s of people buy and sell real estate in Toronto & The GTA.