Hollen began as a busy industrial village in Wellington County, first settled around 1850. Hugh Hollingshead, a local politician and mill owner, founded the community. Hollingshead also had the foresight to lay out a small town plan in the hope of attracting other businesses.
A post office and school were already in place by the 1850s. At its height Hollen contained four mills, a brick and tile yard, three shoe manufacturers, a tannery and a cheese factory. Other businesses included five blacksmith shops, a couple of tailors, three hotels and even a photography studio.
During the 1860s, the community added both Methodist and Presbyterian Churches. During its best days, Hollen boasted a population estimated at between 400 and 500.
Hollen was one of a number of thriving industrial communities bypassed by the railways. As a result, after the Grand Trunk Railway chose Drayton over Hollen in 1874, the village began a slow descent downwards from which it was never able to recover. To add insult to injury, the waters of the Conestoga dammed up and consequently much of the original townsite now lies under water.
Today Hollen still supports a small population. Fortunately a number of original buildings, spared from the inundation, still stand. Learn more