A Bit Of History

A bit of historyIn 1854, enterprising Englishman William Ainlay laid out a town site where the Maitland River crosses the boundary between Grey and Morris Townships. He named his community Ainlayville, but a sloppy clerk at Her Majesty’s Registration Office misspelled it “Ainleyville” and the version stuck. The first post office came in 1856 – named “Dingle” just to confuse things further. By 1872, the railroad arrived and christened the new station Brussels. Village incorporation made the new name official – and Brussels came of age.

Despite its early identity crisis, Brussels flourished and prospered. Early wealth came from beef, wheat and lumber – staple commodities in the British colonial period. Fortunes were made and the physical evidence of this prosperity can still be seen in the impressive 19th Century architecture in the downtown core and back streets.

From its beginnings, Brussels was always a Western town. A trip down Main Street in the 1880’s would have looked like the set of a Hollywood movie with plenty of real cowboys bringing the cattle to market. At the turn of the century, horse-racing was big business with several renowned breeders and racetracks in the area. By the 1970’s, Brussels had earned the nickname “Dodge City” for the raucous street parties and brawls that happened each Saturday night after closing time.

Mention the name Brussels today, and people still think of cattle and cow-punchers. Brussels Livestock is known across the country as one of Ontario’s largest sales barns while our hockey teams are called the “Bulls”.
That is why the Western Tradition still lives on in Brussels.