Incorporated as a village within Haldimand County in 1853, Caledonia’s Scottish beginnings are remembered a century and a half later.
Caledonia is a picturesque community on the Canadian Heritage Grand River, just 15 minutes south of Hamilton and less than 10 minutes from the Hamilton Airport. Caledonia’s development stems from the Grand River Navigation System days. Founder Ranald McKinnon arrived in the area in 1835 to work on the fifth dam, lock and canal, which became known as Oneida Village. Seneca Village was to the east where the fourth dam, lock and canal was constructed. These two villages, in a very short few years, amalgamated to become Caledonia. McKinnon made it happen. His Scottish heritage resounds in Caledonia even today. The choice of name for the community “Caledonia” and the naming of streets follow McKinnon’s Scotch tradition.
Today, a nine-span bridge, the only one of its type in Canada, links the whole community. Historic sites include the scenic Old Mill, just west of the bridge; the Town Hall, built in 1857; and the 100-year old Grand Trunk Railway Station, built in 1908. The Old Mill reminds residents and visitors of early Caledonia development. The old Town Hall, known as Edinburgh Square Heritage and Cultural Centre, preserves and profiles the history of the community. The renovated Railway Station is open on a daily basis as a museum, office of the Caledonia Regional Chamber of Commerce and Travel Information Centre.
Caledonia’s parks and green spaces provide a place to enjoy a range of sports: fishing, camping, walking, swimming, picnicking and birdwatching. A walk along the old Towpath from the bridge to the dam is a highlight and a tangible reminder of the river’s navigation heyday. The railway bridge, once a wooden trestle, converted to iron in 1886 and later to the solid deck bridge, is still in use today to enhance the park scene.