Midland History


Midland's Development and Growth - A Brief History

Settled by farming families in the 1840's, Midland was known by several names including Mundy's Bay, Hartley's Landing, and Abedar (named for the Welsh hometown of the first postmaster and retail merchant, Mr. Thomas Gladstane). Gladstane built a store during the spring and summer of 1871. Later that same summer, H.H. Cook constructed a large lumber mill operation along the shore, complete with docks, boarding houses, and a skilled work crew of 200 men.

In November of 1871, the Midland Railway Corporation of Port Hope, Ontario, selected Midland as its western port and terminus. Adolphe Hugel and George Cox formed the Midland Land Company and purchased most of the acreage in the area from various farming families. In 1872, they had Peter Burnett survey the new village site, complete with large lots, wide roads and big plans for the future. They named the new community "Midland City."

With railway construction, expanded lumber operations, and an ever-growing commercial sector, Midland City flourished.

The Chew brothers established a grist mill in 1875. Midland City soon reached a population of over 1,000 and was incorporated into a Village on October 24, 1878.

On July 1, 1879, the completed railroad was officially opened for commercial and passenger service. In 1881, the first large grain elevator was completed and regular commercial shipping began.

Unprecedented business growth continued to the point that the village status was upgraded to incorporation as a Town on January 6, 1890. A local consortium of business leaders headed by James Playfair, David Pratt and Douglas White, to name only three, was responsible for continued expansion in wholesaling, retailing, and industrial manufacturing. Although largely dependent on Georgian Bay pine forests, diversification in such companies as Canada Iron Foundry improved the area's economic health.

The economic development devastation of the Great Depression of the 1930's virtually eliminated the regional capital base. Many companies moved away, or were sold. It took the second World War and the revitalization of the shipyards to overcome the ravages of the Depression.

In 1954, however, the shipyards moved their entire operation to Collingwood. This was a major blow to the local economy, but gradual and continued diversification in all sectors brought the Town's population to 11,000 by 1972. In addition, a Federal Government program, provided by the Department of Regional Economic Expansion, allowed for new industrial growth in 1967.

Midland is a wonderful place to live and raise a family. It is an attractive, creative, and prosperous community that exemplifies the Canadian way of life that began so long ago on the shores of Georgian Bay.