The Arts and Letters Club of Burlington, Ontario was formed in 1948 by a small group of dedicated women as an out-growth of the Roseland Book Club. Its purpose was to develop interest in literature and the arts, through the circulation of books, lectures on literary topics, art, music, films and drama. The early meetings were held in the Lion’s Club Hall, later in Trefoil Lodge, and then in the Burlington Central Library.
George Blair (1852-1935) was a prominent member of the Burlington, Ontario community as a builder and fruit farmer, an elder and treasurer of Knox Presbyterian Church and a municipal councillor. He also served several terms on both the public and high school boards and was also a member of the Fruit Growers Association. Many of the houses that Blair built are still standing and several of them have plaques from the Burlington Heritage Committee. Blair was born at Harper's Corners, Ontario and as an adult, lived and worked as a carpenter in Kilbride. In 1886, he built a home for his first wife, Lorentia (nee Parkin) and their family at 472 Burlington Avenue, Burlington. In 1893, the now-widowed Blair married Hannah Smith (nee Shepherd), who was also widowed. George Blair feared the effect of city living on their sons and so bought a 50-acre fruit farm on Brant Street. Though rural in character, it was still within the boundaries of the Town of Burlington. Together, the couple raised their several children: George's two sons H. Melvin and Ferguson G., and daughter, Mary Grace, Hannah's two sons, Henry Melvin Smith and Edward (Ted) Shepherd Smith, as well as the couple's sons George Stanley and John Nicoll, and daughters Eva Marion and Mabel Beatrice.
The Burlington Spectator was published as a section of the Hamilton Spectator [Ontario, Canada] between 8 September 1986 and February 1988. Its launch on 8 September 1986 followed the takeover and closing of the Burlington Gazette which had been published since 1896. Originally published six days a week, the Burlington section began to appear less frequently. Its office at 534 Brant Street was closed in 1988 and remaining staff moved to the Spectator offices in Hamilton.
Jacob Cooke was born in England in 1908 and emigrated to Canada in 1927, eventually settling in Burlington, Ontario. He worked as a carpenter’s helper for Pigott Construction (based in Hamilton, Ontario), and later specialized in the laying of hardwood floors. In 1935, he purchased a hand operated block making machine and began manufacturing concrete blocks in the evenings in a shed at the back of his home at 3 New Street (now 2109 New Street). The blocks were to be used as bases for Christmas trees that decorated Brant Street that Christmas season.
In 1937, he installed his first power-operated block machine. He purchased sand and gravel from Frank Scheer on St. Matthew’s Avenue. The demand for concrete blocks continued, so what had begun as a small cottage industry expanded to larger premises on St. Matthew’s Avenue in Aldershot, on lands purchased from George Filman. An adjacent 55 acre gravel pit provided the raw materials needed for the rapidly expanding operation.
Jacob Cooke purchased property in Aldershot, Oakville and Hamilton. He and employee Brant Coleman developed these properties and sold them to builders. In 1952, they developed the Glen Acres survey (Birdland) on the Filman property. The streets were named after birds in honour of William Filman, who used to have a bird sanctuary on the property. As the business expanded, Jacob Cooke purchased Joe DeLuca’s farm which became the site of the Cooke Business Park at 35 Plains Road E.
By 1953, J. Cooke Concrete Blocks was the largest producer of concrete blocks in Canada, each day producing enough to build 30 houses. The company was in operation around the clock and produced ten million eight-inch blocks per year. Jacob Cooke, retaining the land development company, sold the concrete block business in 1958. His son William (Bill) stayed on to manage the company with his brother Eugene Barrymore (Barry) as Plant Manager. The company was sold again in 1977 and 1998.
At the age of 62, Jacob Cooke visited family in Australia and decided to pursue opportunities there. Convincing his son Barry to join him, Jacob purchased, cleared and planted thousands of acres of land. Jacob Cooke died in Australia on 6 November 1976.
William Jacob Cooke (Bill) was born on Maple Avenue in Burlington on 1 June 1931. He and his brother Eugene Barrymore (Barry) attended Maplehurst Public School and Waterdown High School. Bill married Mary Elizabeth Gray (Bette) on 19 February 1955. Bill carried on the concrete block business after his father and brother moved to Australia, and also became involved with land development.
Some of the areas developed in Aldershot by the Cooke family are Birdland, Harbour Heights, Oaklands Estates, Fairwood Place West, and the Cooke Business Park adjacent to the former concrete block plant. The Cooke family developed over 800 residential lots in the Aldershot area. The property now known as Oaklands Estates on Burlington Bay was purchased by Jacob Cooke in the early 1950s and was later developed into a residential street by Bill. Bill lived at 160 Oaklands Park Court, the home he built there in 1959. In the Fairwood Acres survey on North Shore Boulevard, Bill named the streets after his children: Daryl, David, Lynn and Lee. Bill’s wife Mary died in 2000; he later married Louise Oates. He died in Burlington on 12 May 2005 at the age of 74.
Robert (Bob) Elstone was an active member of the Burlington, Ontario community. His obituary reads: “… Bob was a man of vision and courage who wore many hats with a passion. Not only was he a WWII veteran (First Mate in the Merchant Navy), but an ambitious agriculturalist, naturalist, historian, entrepreneur, volunteer, world traveller, map enthusiast, master mariner, and master swimmer. He was the proud proprietor of Elstone Stationery for almost fifty years which was the hub of the community. His goal was to help and serve people. He was known as “Mr. Rotary” and during his years of service he has been involved in the formation of nine Rotary clubs including two in Egypt; as well as the past president of Burlington Central. Bob was the co-founder of the Burlington Rotary Fall Music Festival. He has been honoured twice with the Paul Harris fellowship, Rotary’s highest honour. He was instrumental, along with others, in establishing the Burlington YMCA., He received the first achievement award in 1976. For 36 years he had a teen program on Saturday nights at the YMCA and over one hundred teen weekend camps over the years. Bob was honoured as citizen of the year for Burlington in 1997. He was also the chairman of the Burlington Beautification Committee and Chairman of the Burlington Uniform Hours Association. He was an Honorary Life member of Hamilton-Burlington YMCA, Burlington Historical Society, Hamilton Naturalist Club and West Flamborough Heritage Society….”
The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA) was established in 1859 as the Fruit Growers' Association of Ontario, making it one of Ontario and Canada’s oldest farm commodity organizations.
As the voice of Ontario’s fruit, vegetable and greenhouse farmers, the OFVGA is a nationally recognized not-for-profit association that advocates on behalf of Ontario fruit and vegetable farmers and the edible horticulture industry, and represents its members provincially, nationally, and internationally.
The Gallagher and Whatmough families have histories that are closely intertwined. The Gallaghers migrated to Hamilton, Upper Canada in 1836, then lived in Rochester, New York for four years before settling in East Flamborough, Upper Canada. Two Whatmough men, Charles and Isaac, came to Upper Canada in 1858 and 1863, from the area around Manchester, England. Their parents and other family members seem to have moved back and forth between the two counties, with most settling in the Toronto/Burlington/Hamilton, Ontario area. The Gallaghers appear to have been farmers, in the main, while the Whatmoughs produced a number of architects and businessmen. Howard Gallagher (1897-1987) was active in the Flamborough and Waterdown Agricultural Society, Gordon Gallagher (1900-1985) was on the town planning committee which prepared Burlington’s first Official Plan, and served as deputy reeve and reeve of Burlington. Percy Gallagher (1901-1987) was a builder and developer who registered the White Oak Manor commercial and residential development survey, Plan 1124, in 1958. Charles T. Whatmough (1837-1885) opened a hardware business on King Street East in Toronto. Arthur Edwin Whatmough (1884-1971) was an architect who designed residential buildings in Toronto in the Arts and Crafts style until the Great Depression (1931). His son, Grant Alan Whatmough (1921-1999) was a naval architect and designer of private houses throughout southern Ontario. Isaac Abraham Whatmough (1842-1911), the second in his family to emigrate, worked in Toronto and Simcoe, where he joined the Norfolk Rifles, and spent some time in Chicago during the Civil War before returning to Toronto to work in his brother Charles’ hardware store.
Knox Presbyterian Church in Burlington, Ontario was established in 1845 as Knox Presbyterian Church, Wellington Square. It wasn't until 1873 that the name of the town was changed to Burlington. Land was donated for a new church by Andrew and Martha Gage, and a small log building was constructed in the summer of 1845. The church was governed by a united Session with Knox Presbyterian Church in Waterdown, until 1877. In that year, a new church building was constructed as well. In 1925, the congregation voted to remain with The Presbyterian Church in Canada.