The people of Dashwood and area are pleased to welcome visitors from around the world to our Home during the International Plowing Match. While driving through town one may think that Dashwood is just another small village in rural Ontario; however, an examination of the history of the town shows that Dashwood is a unique and special place whose citizens share a legacy of industry, responsiblity and a strong commitment to community.
Dashwood is a village with a population of about 400 located at the junction of Huron County Roads 2 and 83 (between Exeter and Grand Bend) on the boundary between Hay and Stephen Townships in Huron County, Ontario. Dashwood was incorporated as a police village in 1900.
This village can best be characterized as a town with a strong sense of community. Residents of Dashwood and the surrounding rural area have time and again gathered together to support community needs and functions, whether it be to establish their own Municipal Hydro System, to raise money for the Community Centre and the Medical Centre, to raise money for the rebuilding of Zion Lutheran Church, to cheer on the Dashwood Tigers, the Dashwood Bears or the Bluewater Tug-of-War team, or to volunteer time and talents toward the successful running of Canada's Centennial Celebrations, Friedsburg Days and the International Plowing Match. Dashwood is the kind of community one is proud to call Home, even when one lives elsewhere.
There is a long tradition of civic responsibility associated with Dashwood and area; individuals from Dashwood have shown their commitment to active citizenship. Currently, Bill Becker, Ken Rader, and Mike Tieman manage municipal concerns in Dashwood as trustees for the Police Village of Dashwood. When Dashwood was first incorporated as a village in 1900, the trustees were John Hoffman, Henry Willert and George Kellerman (Rader, Friedsburg-- Dashwood, Our First 125 Years 99). Jim Hoffman (great nephew of John Hoffman) carries on the tradition of community responsiblity as the current chief of the Dashwood Fire Department and leads an effective group of volunteers whose commitment to service and protection goes back to the early part of this century. Carrying on the tradition of service to the wider community has included Jack Riddell who served as MPP for the riding of Huron-Middlesex and as Ontario Minister of Agriculture, and Jim Hayter, who was Warden for the County of Huron. Other "children of Dashwood" have gone on to serve elsewhere too: Dr. Arthur Kellerman, Rev. Ernest Miller, Rev. Arthur Rader, Dr. Lorne Tieman, Dr. Eugene Tieman, and Rev. Jim Keller (Rader 40-43).
A remarkable sense of industry, however, marks the early days of Dashwood. It was the lure of abundant water and of timber--virgin Hemlock and Blue Beech hardwood forest--which attracted the areas first settlers Absolem and Noah Fried (Gibb 91-92). They purchased 150 acres in the Huron Tract of the Canada Company lands and built a stone grist mill and a saw mill. This area (in the north part of Dashwood) was known as "Mill Reserve". As land was cleared a community began to emerge; by 1860, Friedsburg had been born, named after these Fried brothers from Waterloo County (Rader 3). Friedsburg quickly grew and within a decade there was a hotel, a butcher shop, a blacksmith shop, a general store, and many other related enterprises (Mack 228; Rader 4). In 1871 Friedsburg had its first post office, known as the Dash Post Office (Rader Huron Historical Notes 10). The name Dashwood was adopted for the new settlement combining the name Dash with wood, reflecting the staple of the community's economy. One commentator, however, suggests that the name Friedsburg was changed to Dashwood in order to please authorities who "preferred a more English sounding name . . .so they selected Dashwood, in honour of Sir Frances Dashwood" (Gibb 92). [Considering the strange legacy of Sir Frances Dashwood as notorious founder of the eighteenth-century Hell-fire Club at Medmenham Abbey, this writer prefers the former explanation.]
The first church built in the village was a Bible Christian Church, around 1875, and the Evangelical church (now Calvary United Church) was built in 1895. In 1873 the Zion Evangelical Lutheran congregation was formed, and in 1874 a frame church was dedicated. By 1908 the Lutheran congregation had a modern brick church (Rader, 16-17).
By the turn of the century Dashwood was a booming business centre for the area with milling being at the centre of the local economy.
[THERE's MORE TO COME! ...(as we continue to construct our site)]
DID YOU KNOW. . .
. . . that the annual Friedsburg Days celebrations began in 1971, one hundred years after Friedsburg became known as Dashwood, in 1871?
. . .that Dashwood had a weekly newspaper, the Dashwood Pioneer, first published in 1911?
. . .that the centennial of the incorporation of the Police Village of Dashwood will be in the year 2000?