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History of Harriston

shoppers in downtown Harriston

Harriston, located in Wellington County, Ontario is a thriving community located in the larger municipality of the Town of Minto.

The original community received its name from Archibald Harrison, a Toronto farmer who was granted land along the Maitland River where it met the Elora and Saugeen Road in 1854. He, along with his brothers Joshua and George built several mills in the area and the community soon grew.

By about 1867, with a population of about 150, the village contained many businesses, including blacksmith shops and wagonworks. The construction of the Wellington, Grey and Bruce Railway, completed to Harriston in 1871, spurred the community's growth as a prosperous commercial and farm-implement manufacturing centre.

Key Strengths & Special Features

  • Town Hall Theatre (Grey Wellington Theatre Guild)
  • Minto Heritage Gallery (Minto Arts Council)
  • Location (Highways 9 & 89 intersect in Downtown Harriston)
  • Unity among businesses
  • Access to a large number of seasonal residents at Pike Lake Golf Resort

Businesses & Services

Downtown Harriston has 50 business and service establishments, which represent a strong service and convenience cluster that includes legal, financial and real estate services. Casual dining and take-out restaurants are complemented by retail establishments including hardware, bakery, giftware, floral and auto sales. The popular Town Hall Theatre, Heritage Gallery and Public Library offer residents and visitors entertainment options within the downtown core as well.

Key Demographic Figures

Downtown Harriston Trade Area (Census 2011 & Map Info 2014)

Population:  14,374 (2011) 
15, 062 (Projected 2014) 
Average Household Income:  $71,765

Top 10 Reasons to Locate a Business in Downtown Harriston

  1. Access to thousands of customers travelling on Highways 9 & 89
    (19,461 Average Annual Daily Traffic Counts.)
  2. Façade & Signage Improvement Grant Program
  3. Friendly, supportive and cooperative business community
  4. Fastest Internet Service in Ontario (Source:
  5. Strong and active Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Revitalization Committee
  6. Available commercial and industrial land
  7. Think Minto First - Buy Local Program
  8. Streetscape Improvement Plan
  9. Reasonable Rents and Purchase Costs
  10. Significant Trade Area Population (15,090)