Acton is a community of about 9,500 people (2016) 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.
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.
- The Clay Oven, 32 Mill St E, ☏ . T-Th 11:00am-2:00pm; 4:30pm-9:00pm F-Sa 11:00am-2:00pm; 4:30pm-10:00pm Su 4:00pm-9:00pm.
- Lily Thai & Vietnamese Cuisine, 10 Mill St E, ☏ . Tu-F 11:30AM-10PM, Sa Su 3PM-10PM. Mains $11-17.
- Big Fat Greek Souvlaki, 15 Mill St E, ☏ . Tu-Th 8AM-8PM, F Sa 8AM-8:30PM, Su 8AM-7PM.