The Township of Thornbury was
incorporated on April 23, 1833. The source of its name is
somewhat controversial. Some historians claim it was inspired
by the wild thorn berries that grew along the Georgian Bay
shoreline. Others deduce that the settlement was named after
three Thornburys from England.
In 1855, the town's first business,
a milling operation was set up. By 1857, the population had
reached the 100-person mark. Back then a walk through town
would have taken you past a general store, blacksmith, cooper
and fanning mill shops, grist and saw mills and a post office.
Over the next thirty years, Thornbury continued to grow. The
population was now over 1,200 people, and the town had clearly
evolved from a spec in the middle of nowhere to a "modern"
town with all the places of business, churches, manufacturing
facilities and banking institutions found in any other town
Business has always played a major
role in the evolution of Thornbury.
Back in 1887, feeling they were unfairly
burdened with high taxes, the businessmen of Thornbury petitioned
for independence from the Town of Collingwood. After much
negotiating, they received it, and the Township of Thornbury
became of the Town of Thornbury.
Over the years Thornbury has been
home to a wide spectrum of businesses. From the Chemical Works
to T.G. Idle's Furniture store which furnished many of the
distinguished homes in the area; to the Thos. W. Eastland
department store where groceries were displayed on one side
and dry goods on the other Keast Tailoring which is still
going strong four generations later. The apple packing industry
took root in Thornbury in the 1880s. In 1905 the Georgian
Bay Fruit Growers Association was formed. The Mitchell family
were prominent and vocal members of the group, and for years
famous Mitchell-brand cider vinegar, apple juice and sauce
were produced in the Thornbury processing plant.
Today the entrepreneurial spirit
is alive and well in Thornbury, with Bruce Street still bustling
with an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants and artisans.