Neighbourhood History

This historical information was prepared by Dan Burkhart, a former resident of Beechwood South.

An Historical Perspective of Beechwood South

Hundreds of years prior to the arrival of Europeans, this area was inhabited by Neutral First Nation people. They were most likely descendants of the Iroquois tribes of present day New York State and western Pennsylvania.

In 1784, following the American War of Independence, Sir Frederick Haldimand, Governor of the Province of Lower Canada, purchased the land in the Grand River watershed from the Mississauga First Nation people, who controlled the area at that time. Haldimand proclaimed that as compensation for fighting as allies of the British during the war, the Six Nations First Nation people and their leader, Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant, would be allowed to settle in an area 6 miles back on either side of the Grand River from its headwaters (Dundalk area) to Lake Erie.

In 1798, after protracted disputes about the land, Peter Russell, Governor of the Province of Upper Canada, finally gave Joseph Brant permission to sell six large, but unequal blocks of Six Nation land. Block 2 was purchased in partnership by Richard Beasley, James Wilson and John Baptiste Rouseau. The 92,160 acres later became the Township of Waterloo.

In 1805, Beasley, who had acquired his partners shares in the land, sold the middle and upper blocks of Block 2, to Daniel and Jacob Erb, Mennonites from Pennsylvania, who fronted for a group of 26 investors, known as the German Company. These 60,000 acres were surveyed and divided into 128 lots (448 acres each), and the remainder was divided into 32 lots (83 acres each).

The 26 investors were assigned lots in proportion to their individual investments by a random draw. As time passed, these lots were further divided and sold and, thus, began the subdivision of land in this fertile, but still heavily forested, area. The German Company Tract was surveyed and subdivided without provision for road allowances. As the need arose, roads were developed, guided by convenience and local topography, rather than the grid system used elsewhere. This accounts for the uniquely confusing network of streets in this area!

The Beechwood South neighborhood is situated for the most part on portions of Lots 31 and 32 of the German Company Tract. It also extends into adjacent German Company Tract Lots 23 and 24 in two areas. The tennis courts occupy the extreme southwest corner of Lot 24, and McCarron Place extends into Lot 23. The first owners sold portions of these lots and the land continued to be subdivided by subsequent owners. The two most recent major owners have been Clarence "Bud" Clair, and Major Holdings, the developer of Beechwood South.

The most significant geological feature of Beechwood South is the Clair Creek ravine. The 30 acres through which it passes was owned by "Bud" Clair, a local mason and conservationist. Mr. Clair lived as a youth on Amos Avenue, and was very attached to the creek and ravine. He was also intrigued by a dam and a small pond on the adjoining "Old Amos Weber Farm". The dam was originally built by Mr. Weber to provide water power to drive an electricity generating turbine which powered the machinery in his elaborate workshop. (The Weber farmhouse still stands at 15 Braeburn Place, near Old Post Crossing, and Amos Avenue follows the old farm lane way from Erb Street). Mr. Clair purchased the Weber farm, enlarging the pond and rebuilding the dam. The old turbine was removed at this time. Upon selling the farm, he retained ownership of 10 acres surrounding the pond and built a house adjacent to the dam. Following the sale by Mr. Clair of this final portion of his land to Major Holdings, this area was deeded to the City of Waterloo as parkland, and the creek and lake were named in his honor.

While developing this land and other Beechwood subdivisions, Major Holdings introduced the concept of Neighborhood Associations to this region. In Beechwood South, various "Protective Restrictions," as well as mandatory Homes Association Membership were registered to run with the land for a period of 40 years from January 1, 1974. These "Protective Restrictions" (covenants) were designed to protect the common interest of all landowners in the Association. They have proven to be beneficial by providing a viable framework for operating our recreational amenities, organizing social events, and dealing with neighborhood concerns, as well as helping to preserve the character of our community. These concepts of community co-operation and mutual concern for our neighbors were inherent in the original owners of our land, both the First Nation people and the Mennonites, and perhaps it is appropriate that these concepts have been adopted by our Association to guide us for years to come.

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