The historic village of Terra Cotta was established in 1855, when Henry Tucker purchased 40 acres for $800 dollars. 18 lots were laid out – and families began to establish themselves. The early pioneers noted that the Credit River was so thick with salmon during spawning time, that you could walk across the river on the backs of them. Due to pollution, deforestation, dams and overfishing, Atlantic Salmon became extinct in Lake Ontario around the 1890’s.
The mill was sold in 1859 to Simon Plewes – changing the name to Plewes Mill. Due to the plentitude of the salmon in the area – it later became known as Salmonville, by 1866.
In 1862 the Wesleyan Methodists constructed a small clapboard structure, which became known as the Weslayan Methodist Church and later Salmonville Methodist Church. In 1925, the group joined the United Church, and the building was deemed as surplus – thus being converted to a community hall. This structure is located on 18 High Street, and is now the Terra Cotta Community Centre .
In 1866 a post office was established and named Salmonville. A general store and post office have been serving the community ever since. The village was renamed to Terra Cotta in 1891, when Jane Smith became the postmaster and built a new store in 1894 which still serves the village to this day! The Terra Cotta Country Store is open weekends, form 11 am – 5pm, April to December. This country store offers a selection of accessories, and decor items as well as a bakery. Take a stroll down to the store or make plan your stay with us during their annual “Buzzfest” held on the last weekend of September.
Quarries flourished at this time, and the addition of the railway ensured that the high quality “credit valley stone” was used across the country. Underneath the stone – the shale was noted to be ideal for brick making. In 1906, The Terra Cotta Pressed Brick Co. commenced business making the village even more prosperous. An electric power house was erected where Mr. Plewes grist mill stood and what is now the “Forge” . The village thrived until the great depression in 1929, which the brick plants were eventually closed and dismantled.
Eventually a fire in 1956, destroyed the CNR train station, and this marked the end of industry. It was at this same time that local artists began to settle and bring a new identity to the village. The Forge Studio was established in 1959 and was celebrated for many years. The Terra Cotta Conservation area was laid out as a summer park in 1958, and is now run by the Credit Valley Conversation Authority. The Terra Cotta Inn was established along the river in 1951, on a location where a hotel once operated A fire in 1975, forced them to rebuild and expand, and the recession in 1989 closed it down. It opened again in 1994 and offers a fantastic dining experience along the shores of the river.
Salmon was reintroduced to the river in 1988, and is now a local seasonal attraction to the area.