Hawtrey began as a small railway community located in southern Ontario. In the late 1800s, when access to a nearby railway could make or break a town, Hawtrey had the enviable advantage of having two railways, one at each end of community.
The boom started in 1870 when the Canada Southern Railway (later MCRR) built a station at the south end of town. A few years later, the Port Dover and Lake Huron Railway laid down tracks (later GTR and CN), and built a station on the north side.
Authorities threw town planning to the wayside as businesses scrambled to be next to either of the two stations. As a result, they ended up with a town with commercial centres at each end.
First settled in 1868, Hawtrey sprang to life following the opening of a store and post office on the north side of town. The railways led to the quick establishment of two hotels and a tavern. By the early 1900s, the village had added a couple of blacksmith shops, a gospel hall and town hall. A string of houses lined the roadway between the two stations.
Hawtrey’s downfall came with the loss of both railways in the 1920s and 30s. Today little remains from Hawtrey’s early days. The general store, closed in 1970s, still stands but is now a private home. Hawtrey continues to support a small number of residents. Learn more