If you’re out touring County Roads this summer, you may notice some new brown and white heritage signs marking Huron County’s historic settlements. The project was initiated by the County’s Public Works Department as a way to remember these communities that once existed in Huron. To date, 23 signs have been erected, including three signs marking communities that still exist, but under a different name. These signs have the word ‘historic’ added to show their historic name, like Ainleyville, which is still a thriving community now known today as Brussels. This summer, our student Maddy Gilbert will explore the history of some of these settlements.

Postcard of Main Street Brussels.

Postcard of Main Street Brussels, postmarked 1909. Source: Archival Collection of the Huron County Museum

historic map of Brussels, ON

This 1879 map shows the village as “Brussels.”

Brussels found its beginnings in 1854, when William Ainley bought 200 acres of land on the Maitland River. In 1855, he laid out a town plot and named it Ainleyville, after himself. On April 1, 1856, he sold all of his land to J.N. Knechtel. Between 1860 and 1875, three fires completely destroyed the main street. Ainley donated land that was to be used for a market square, but it was converted into a park.

The Wellington, Grey and Bruce Railroad opened a line off of their Palmerston to Kincardine line, officially linking Ainleyville to a railroad. When the railway opened in 1874, there were three different names credited to the same place. Ainleyville was the name given to the village itself, Brussels was the name of the train station, and Dingle was the name of the post office.

One reason credited for settling on the name Brussels, was that railway workers were given the option to name the new train station. As many of the railway workers were of European descent, they chose Brussels after the capital of Belgium. Brussels was accepted as the official name for the village on Dec. 24, 1872, when it became Huron County’s first incorporated village.

Brussels sits at the intersections of Huron County Road 12 (Brussels Line) and Huron County Road 16 (Newry Road.) Brussels is 25 km southeast of Wingham, 25 km northwest of Seaforth, and 16km south of Wroxeter. Brussels was amalgamated into the Municipality of Huron East in 2001.

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