Located in the heart of Flamborough, this historic village was an important mill town from 1800 to the early 1900’s. Today the ‘Victorian Village’ is a vibrant, fast-growing service community.

Population:  17,048 (2011)

Geographic Location:

Historical Facts

  • In 1796 the village of Waterdown was developed on land originally granted to Alexander MacDonnell.  In 1805 ownership of the land was transferred to Alexander Brown of the North West Fur Company, who built a sawmill at the top of the Great Falls on Grindstone Creek.  Brown was the first European settler in the region.
  • In 1823, Ebenezer Culver Griffin, a miller purchased over half of Alexander Brown’s property. He had his property surveyed into village lots in 1830, and by 1867 there were 100 householders and 600 inhabitants.
  • Grindstone Creek provided power for the endeavours of the early pioneers. The enterprises of Brown and Griffin, accounted for substantial industrial growth in the Grindstone Creek Valley. The valley,  known as Smokey Hollow, was fuelled by dams and raceways, and was the site of saw, grist and flour mills; a woolen mill;  brass foundry; tanneries; and rake, cradle and basket factories.
  • In 1878 Waterdown was incorporated as a Village with Charles Sealey as its first Reeve.
  • By 1912 when the railway was extended up the valley of Grindstone Creek, the milling industry which had been the life blood of the village was gone. Few remnants of the old mills remain.
  • In 1974, Waterdown was amalgamated with East Flamborough, West Flamborough and Beverly townships to form the Town of Flamborough.  In 2001 Waterdown was amalgamated into the City of Hamilton.

Points of Interest

  • The Regency Stone Cottage, 24 Griffin Street – Believed to be built c.1840-1849, the cottage is considered the oldest structurally-unaltered domestic dwelling in Waterdown.
  • The American Hotel. built c.1824, is one of the oldest hotels in Ontario. The building has been in operation as a hotel since 1824, closed only during Prohibition. This hotel contained the last old time stand-up bar in Ontario, and maintained segregated male and female front rooms until 1966.
  • Great Falls (or Grindstone Falls) is located on the Bruce Trail. The mill located at the falls ceased operation in 1912; today, only ruins of the mill remain.
  • Smokey Hollow Trail – An area once the heartland of Waterdown’s industry is now a public park. It is located on Mill Street, southeast of the town. Waterdown also has many well marked wetland trails in the eastern end of town. 



  • Oh Canada Waterdown Ribfest is Waterdown’s premier family event held every Canada Day weekend (June 27 – July 1 in  2014) in Memorial Park. (www.ohcanadaribfest.ca)
  • Waterdown Car Show and Swap Meet – Car enthusiasts visit the Waterdown Car Show held each spring and fall.  (http://www.waterdowncarshow.ca/index.htm)
  • Village Theatre Waterdown – Operating out of the Memorial Hall in the centre of Waterdown, the Village Theatre has been entertaining local audiences for the past 40 years.  (http://www.villagetheatrewaterdown.ca/)

Sources:  Wikepedia; Waterdown, East Flamborough Heritage Society; City of Hamilton; Waterdown BIA; cbc.ca; Rotary Clubs of Waterdown and Flamborough; Canada’s Local Histories – Our Roots; photo by Rochelle Edwards