Dundas, Ontario

From Academic Kids

This article refers to Dundas, a constituent community of Hamilton, Ontario since 2001, in south central Ontario. For the former Dundas County in eastern Ontario, see Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry United Counties, Ontario

Dundas, Ontario held a town charter between 1848 and 2001. Its nickname is the Valley Town.

Its population has been stable for decades at about twenty thousand, largely because it has not annexed rural land from the now protected Dundas Valley Conservation Area. Now operated by the Hamilton Conservation Authority (, the area links up directly and indirectly with the Bruce Trail. The Buskerfest is in early June, while Dundas Cactus Festival is held annually in August. [1] ( Other green spaces include the Dundas Driving Park.

Missing image
Downtown Dundas (May 2005) looking westward.

History and politics

History and politics to 1974

The town of Dundas was incorporated in 1848 as part of Wentworth County. It was named by John Graves Simcoe, Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, for his friend Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, a Scottish lawyer and politician who never visited North America.

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries Dundas enjoyed considerable economic prosperity through its access to Lake Ontario via the Desjardins Canal, and was an important town in Upper Canada and Canada West. It was later surpassed as the economic powerhouse of the area by Hamilton, but for decades it led in importance. A number of Ontario cities (including Toronto) retain streets named Dundas Street, which serve as evidence of its onetime importance.

With the establishment of McMaster University ( in nearby west Hamilton in 1930, Dundas gradually became a bedroom community of the university faculty and students.

Amalgamation with Hamilton has been proposed on a number of different occasions throughout the history of Dundas, particularly in the 1970s at the time of the formation of the city of Cambridge from a number of smaller towns including Galt, Preston and Hespeller.

Instead, Dundas and Hamilton became two of six second-tier municipalities in the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth. There was rough parity between Hamilton and suburban or rural members of the regional council, and it seemed likely that Dundas and other smaller communities like Ancaster had preserved their identity from encroachment by Hamilton.

History and politics 1974-2001

In 1995, the issue was resurrected when a Progressive Conservative provincial government under Mike Harris was elected with a stated platform (the Common Sense Revolution) of cost-cutting and reduction of bureaucratic waste. Several proposals for amalgamation were made during the first Harris government, but no formal steps were taken towards amalgamation as they were in many other Ontario municipalities.

Nevertheless a "Dundas Forever" campaign was launched within the town, which took out newspaper ads and distributed signs and bumper stickers promoting the continuation of Dundas' town status. Some observers suggested that the residents of the suburbs were being self-serving, as their present status entitled them to many of the benefits of Hamilton while avoiding the negatives (chiefly high property taxes).

During the 1999 provincial election, the amalgamation question became a significant election issue. Toni Skarica, the Progressive Conservative MPP for Wentworth North, a riding made up largely of the suburban towns in which amalgamation was an issue, explicitly promised that amalgamation would not happen if he were re-elected, despite apparently contrary statements from his government.

In early 2000, the results of a citizen-organized poll on amalgamation were published. The poll claimed a 30% turnout of eligible voters, and a 90% vote against amalgamation. In February, the Harris government announced that Dundas and the rest of Hamilton-Wentworth would be amalgamated to create a new City of Hamilton. In late February 2000, Skarica resigned his seat in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as an act of protest.

In the summer of 2000, a by-election was held in the new riding of Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Aldershot. The PCs attempted to counter the anger at amalgamation by running a star local candidate, Priscilla de Villiers, but the election went to Ted McMeekin, a Liberal and the former mayor of Flamborough, who made his displeasure at amalgamation very evident. The electoral riding is now called Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale.

On January 1, 2001, all municipalities of the former two-tier Hamilton-Wentworth Region, including Dundas, Stoney Creek, Flamborough, Ancaster and Glanbrook, were formally amalgamated under the name the City of Hamilton. This act garnered considerable controversy amongst residents of Dundas and other nearby communities.


The racial make is:

The main religions:

Age Structure

  • 0-14 years: 18.2%
  • 15-64 years: 63.7%
  • 65 years and over: 18.1%


Fine Arts

Carnegie Gallery
Carnegie Gallery

Dundas is home to the Dundas Valley School of Art ( Marion Farnan and Emily Dutton established it in 1964, and it became a non-profit corporation three years later. Since 1970, it has been located in the former Canada Screw Works building from the 1860s. It began a full-time diploma programme with McMaster University in 1998.

The Carnegie Gallery ( is housed in the 1910 Carnegie library building and celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2005. It is run by the Dundas Art & Craft Association and hosts art exhibitions, book readings, concerts and a gift shop.


"Dundas, Ontario" is also the title of a song from the album Start Breaking My Heart by the electronic artist Caribou (formerly Manitoba), a native of the town.

Folksinger Stan Rogers, who died in an airplane crash in 1982, was born in Dundas as well. Oddly, he is best remembered for his unofficial Nova Scotia anthem "Barrett's Privateers" (


Because of Dundas' early 20th century downtown architecture it was the location for the TV movie Haven and a Chrysler commercial. Also Cabin Fever and Wrong Turn made use of Dundas locations.

In early December 2004 the West Wing did some filming; remaking parts of Dundas (Town Hall, a residence, Cabin Fever and Deluxe Restaurant) into New Hampshire locals. The three episodes will air in late January or early February 2005. Several dozen fans of the show braved chilly weather to witness the snails pace of TV filming and grab autographs/photos with celebrities. Even some young people unfamiliar with the West Wing bore witness to the proceedings because "there's nothing better to do on a Sunday in Dundas."fr:Dundas (Ontario) de:Dundas (Ontario)

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