The town of Dundas 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. Prior to being called “Dundas” the town was called Coote’s Paradise, and renamed after 1814 to Dundas. Dundas was then incorporated in 1847 as part of Wentworth County.
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. Dundas was once the terminus of Toronto’s Dundas Street (also known as Highway 5), one of the earliest routes used by Ontario’s first settlers.
With the establishment of McMaster University in nearby west Hamilton in 1930, Dundas gradually became a bedroom community of the university faculty and students, with a thriving arts community. Dundas has a large community of potters and several studio shows/walking tours of the town feature their work each year.
On March 1, 1976 Town Council proclaimed Dundas “The Cactus Capital of Canada.” This gave rise to the Cactus Festival as the Chamber of Commerce and the Dundas Jaycees were looking to create a summer festival with a strong theme.
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 celebrated 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 artist Caribou (formerly Manitoba), a native of the town. Dundas’ sobriquet The Valley Town is used as the title of a song on the album Mountain Meadows by the band Elliott Brood; one of the band members, Casey Laforet, spent part of his childhood in Dundas. The town has produced other independent artists including Junior Boys, Koushik, Jeff Button and smaller bands such as Winter Equinox and The Dirty Nil. Folk singer Stan Rogers, who died in an airplane crash in 1983, was born in Dundas as well. He is best remembered for his unofficial Nova Scotia anthem.
Another one of Dundas’ sons who came to fame as a singer/songwriter is Ryan van Sickle. A notable aspect of his career is, that he was one of the first musicians to embrace Google’s social platform Google+ and used it to become successful as an independent reggaeton artist with his album “Ghosts of the Brokenhearted”.
Dundas is home to the Dundas Valley Orchestra. The DVO is an amateur, community orchestra and was founded in the fall of 1978 by Arthur Vogt. Many have made the DVO a way station en route to successful musical careers. Former conductors include Rosemary Thomson, Michael Hall, Stephane Potvin and Dr. Glenn Alan Mallory. The DVO is currently conducted by Laura Thomas.
Dundas is also the home of Dundas Concert Band. The Dundas Concert Band was established in 1873 as a military band. In 1923, the band was renamed “The Dundas Citizens’ Band” and became known as the Dundas Concert Band in the early 1940s. The Dundas Concert Band’s “Concerts in the Park” series have been put on at the Dundas Driving Park Bandshell since 1958.
Dundas Conservatory of Music is located in the historic downtown Dundas and has been providing musical instruction in the community for over twenty years.
Dundas has many waterfalls within its region. The two most common visited waterfalls are Webster’s Falls (named after Joseph Webster) and Tew’s Falls. Both waterfalls are accessible by the Bruce trail leading to the Dundas Peninsula.
In 1819, Joseph Webster purchased property on the escarpment above Dundas, including the waterfall which still bears his family’s name. In 1856, his son built a huge stone flour mill just above the falls but it was destroyed by fire in 1898. After the fire one of the first hydro-electric generators in Ontario was built at the base of the falls. In 1931, a former Dundas mayor, Colonel W.E.S. Knowles, generously bequeathed monies so that the area surrounding Webster’s Falls could be made into a public park. Dundas also has the Dundas Peak. The Peak overlooks Dundas from The Bruce Trail in Flamborough and has become one of the most visited parts of Dundas. Hikers can take the Bruce Trail from Tews or Webster’s Falls to the peak and look over Dundas and West Hamilton.
courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dundas,_Ontario