Who was George Bolton?

George Bolton’s signature, taken from original land transfer documents.
This map of England show the approximate location of Tannington in Suffolk where George Bolton grew up.
George Bolton’s original 1822 dam location across the Humber River.  That first dam washed out in 1842 but was rebuilt in the same spot.  Photo c.1900.
Primitive Methodist Chapel which was built around 1842 by church members on land George Bolton provided.  The building still stands and is the oldest structure in Bolton.
Building to the far left is the early 1840s tavern/inn built by Elijah Harsent at the corner of Mill and Queen streets.  The building still stands although with an altered roofline.


  • George Bolton was born in Suffolk, England, the youngest of six children born to James Bolton (1746-1818) and Judith Mann (1750-1834) and grew up in a small village called Tannington where his father was a glazier
  • Thought to be a bachelor, it was later revealed that prior to 1818, George had a disagreement with his father over an unsanctioned marriage which, in the end, did not last
  • Written out of his father’s will, George left England and travelled to Jamaica where he acquired capital working in the indigo trade
  • George was 22 when, on June 5, 1821, he purchased 200 acres of land on the Humber River  from James Chewett.  Lot 9, Concession 7, Albion
  • The lot was bounded by 7th Line Albion (Queen Street) to the west and what is now King Street East to the south
  • It contained the finest mill site in Albion Township and it is from this transaction that Bolton has evolved
  • James Chewett was a Provincial Land Surveyor and had been paid in land, 2635 acres, for completing the township survey
  • George was joining his eldest sibling, James Bolton (1781-1840) who had settled in Albion Township in 1819 on a lot about seven kilometres northeast of what is now Bolton
  • Because of their 18 year age difference, accounts have referred to the brothers as ‘relatives’ or as ‘uncle and nephew’
  • One of his first tasks was to build a house, later described as a ‘frame, roughcast building, the most pretentious in the village’
  • George was guided by James, a skilled carpenter and millwright, who helped him select a site for the wooden dam which soon stretched across the Humber River
  • Together they built a grist mill which sat at what is now the bend in Mill Street and which, by 1824, was grinding grain into flour
  • The mill operation would have required more than one man but it is not known who assisted George in the early years
  • His closest neighbours were niece Harriet Bolton and her husband John Godbolt who settled on land George offered to them, north of the Humber, east of what is now Humber Lea Road
  • By 1830, there were fewer than 10 people living in a one-kilometre radius of Bolton’s Mill.  It was around that time that George provided land and a log structure for use as a school, the first in the area
  • In 1831, he built a store on the northeast corner of King and Mill streets
  • The following year, the government appointed George as Postmaster which required him to provide premises which he did by housing the Post Office, named Albion, in his store
  • George did not take any part in the Mackenzie Rebellion in 1837, unlike his older brother James who fled to the US in the aftermath, because of his vocal and written support of the rebel cause
  • Documents suggest that George was generous in allowing skilled tradesmen to set up shop and pay for their property as they worked.  Such was the case in the 1830s with both Francis McDonald, the cooper, and Richard Paxman, the tanner
  • In 1841, he sold land at the corner of Mill and Queen Street to blacksmith Elijah Harsent who took over a smithy/inn operation and built a new tavern/inn which still stands
  • George donated the land both for the Congregation Church, which was built in 1842, as well as for its burial ground
  • It is likely that he donated land for the Primitive Methodist Chapel,  still standing on the northeast corner of Chapel at King Street East
  • He persevered and was successful, thanks to the growing demand for flour to make bread
  • In 1845, after 23 years as miller, George sold the mill, frame house and other property to his nephew and assistant James Cupper Bolton (1812-1907)
  • George retired to an already built plank-on-plank house on the mill property
  • The 1851 Albion Township census list George, a ‘gentleman’, living with his sister Rachel Godbolt and her husband George on what had been their late brother James Bolton’s farm.  The farm backed onto what is now the Caledon King Town Line close to Castlederg Side Road
  • George died on November 16, 1869 in Glenville Ontario, near Newmarket, at the farm of James Cupper Bolton and his wife (and cousin) Ellen Godbolt Bolton
  • Efforts to locate where George Bolton is buried have been unsuccessful