Once Upon a Time: The founding of Tara

This unsigned article appeared in the 1981 Yearbook of the Bruce County’s Historical Society

In the fall of 1851, Richard Berford and Joh Hamilton came into the Township of Arran and located on lots 29 and 32, concession 8. Within two or three years of taking up his land, Hamilton had built a fair-sized building of hewed logs, where he furnished accommodation for the travelling public. His hostelry was located half way between Owen Sound and Southampton, on the road which was opened in 1852, and this fact had much to do with the development of a village there.

For a number of years, a strong rivalry existed between the villages of Tara and Invermay, which had originated about the same time, but Tara eventually surpassed its neighbour, perhaps because of its better location.

“Courtesy of Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre, A2014.008.1097″

Tara’s first industry was a sawmill built in 1854 by Henry Richards, followed by a gristmill in 1857. The largest manufacturing industry, the foundry and agricultural implements works by W.A. Gerolamy, was founded in 1857. Other industries were a woollen mill, a potash factory, cabinet-making, a tannery, wheel-making, a cooper’s trade, etc.

“The first post office was opened in 1862, bearing the name of Eblana. The first postmaster was Donald Sutherland, followed by John Tobey. A group of men were discussing the appointment of Tobey over some drinks at John Hamilton’s tavern. The name of the village came up. Eblana did not seem very popular. Just at that moment, a group down the bar started singing `The Harp That once Through Tara’s Halls.` At that moment, the village became Tara and Tara it has remained. (quoted from Tara Before 1981, page 22, by Bruce A. Miller.)

The village continued to grow until 1880 when it had 806 inhabitants. It became a village on January 1, 1881, with the first reeve being John Douglass. The first locomotive reached Tara that same year. In its early years, Tara has had five disastrous fires, culminating in the Great Fire of 1925. Over a dozen buildings on Main Street were destroyed. The Depression of the 1930s destroyed what was left of Tara’s early industries. Today it is still an attractive little village with friendly people.



The original article in the Bruce County Historical Society’s Yearbook   
was abridged by Bob Johnston