The first European settler making his way to what is now the town of Durham knew exactly what he was looking for.
Archibald Hunter was making his way north on the newly surveyed Garafraxa Road – though calling it a road certainly stretches our modern imagination.
The Garafraxa Road was a rough and rugged trail, no more than a track really, heading north from Fergus through dense forest to Owen Sound – then called Sydenham.
Hunter had been told by one of the surveyors that he would find fertile farmland atop the hill to the north of the Saugeen River.
There Hunter made his claim and erected a log hut, the first building in what would become Durham.
His cabin soon became a wayside inn for the settlers heading farther north as the settlement of Grey County progressed.
Today Durham is a picturesque town nestled in the Saugeen River Valley, a part of the amalgamated municipality of West Grey.
The hardwood forests that challenged the early settlers soon provided the basis for a thriving furniture industry that thrived for more than a century and that continues to be celebrated in the annual wood show.
Like Archibald Hunter, today’s residents of Durham have also found exactly what they are looking for – a place with a strong sense of community and a lifestyle that suits all ages, from growing young families to those who have retired from a life of farming in the nearby townships.
The community centre is a focal point for a strong minor sports program, and for the adult recreational activities, community events and celebrations that take place year round.
Large sections of the Saugeen River through the town are bordered by parks and by a conservation area and campground. The community is also the centre for the recreational activities that abound in the surrounding rural areas, including fishing, canoeing, hiking, snowmobiling and cross country skiing.
In recent years Durham has become a hub for the artistic community and the area is well known for the creative artists and artisans who produce unique works.
There is a large library and a Town Hall that provides a historic theatre for live performances.
As well the active art gallery offers space for all sorts of creative events including the annual Words Aloud Poetry Festival that attracts some of Canada’s best modern poets.
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