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Mill Street in Acton

Acton is a community of about 9,400 people (2021) in the Town of Halton Hills in Halton Region. It sits above the Niagara Escarpment, and the Bruce Trail passes to the south and east of the community, with the Guelph Trail branching off and passing south of town.


From 1842 until 1986, the town was a major centre for the tanning and leather goods industry. In the early years, it was often referred to as "Leathertown".


In 1825, the area now known as Acton was settled by the Rev. Ezra, Rev. Zenas, and Rufus Adams. These men were Methodist preachers who took a sabbatical and began farming here on a branch of the Credit River. A fourth brother, Eliphalet, also settled here later. In the 1840s, the community had a grist mill and tannery. The community was named Danville when settler Wheeler Green opened a dry-goods store in 1828. It was later called Adamsville, after the three original settlers.

In 1856 the Grand Trunk Railway arrived and helped spur growth in the area, especially along Mill Street. By 1869, Acton had businesses that included woodworking mills, tanneries, glove makers and carriage works. Acton's principal trade was in grain, lumber, cordwood, leather and hops. In 1883, postmaster Robert Swan named the village Acton after the area of Acton, London in England.

Significance of the leather industry Tanning has been an important industry in Acton since 1842, when the first tannery was established by Abraham Nelles, as the area was attractive to the leather industry because of the large numbers of hemlock spruce trees. These provided the tannin required for a firm, high quality leather of a reddish colour.

The Beardmore family purchased it in 1865 and ran it for over 50 years. At one time, it was the largest tanner in Canada. The Beardmores also opened tanneries in other parts of southern Ontario. By 1889, their main tanneries in Acton covered 100,000 m². They also built a large brick warehouse that year beside the railway tracks. Hides arrived by rail and were taken for processing by horse-drawn wagons and then shipped by rail to customers.

In 1969, the business was sold to Frank Heller and Company, who consolidated it into one large building in 1980. The business was closed at times because of bankruptcy and other reasons, but is now in operation. Other specialty tanners and leather products manufacturers were also established in the town.

Get in[edit]

Acton is at the junction of Highway 7 and Regional Road 25.

GO Transit provides bus and rush-hour rail service between Acton and Toronto. (See also: GO Transit)

Get around[edit]

Map of Acton (Ontario)


  • 1 Limehouse Conservation Area. Extensive renovation being undertaken on the 19th-century lime kilns and related works found there. The Bruce Trail passes through the site, with side trails for exploring the area in greater detail, and longer hikes than continue to Milton, Caledon or Georgetown. Limehouse Conservation Area (Q14875254) on Wikidata Limehouse Conservation Area on Wikipedia
  • 2 Acton Cenotaph, 70 Mill Street E. A cenotaph honouring World War I and World War II soldiers.



  • 2 Acton Fall Fair. "The Best Little Fair in Ontario." Th-Su; second weekend after Labour Day.




  • 1 Tanners Pub and Grill, 40 Eastern Ave, +1 519-853-5231. M-W 11:30AM-10PM, Th 11:30AM-11PM, F Sa 11:30AM-midnight. Live entertainment June-September on Friday and Saturday nights.
  • 2 Red Harp Pub, 137 Mill St E, +1 519-853-4147. Su M 11AM-10PM, Tu Th 11AM-11PM, Fr Sa11AM-1AM. Pub dining room and private party room.


See Georgetown 17 km to the east on Highway 7. There is camping in Rockwood Park 12 km to the west on Highway 7.


Go next[edit]

  • Glen Williams — a hamlet of artists and historic buildings on the Credit River.
  • Guelph — a vibrant city known for limestone architecture, festivals, and a downtown with a variety of pubs and bars.
Routes through Acton
KitchenerGuelph  W  E  GeorgetownBrampton
KitchenerGuelph  W  E  GeorgetownToronto

This city travel guide to Acton is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.