While in York, Ontario, Joseph received from the Crown, 100 acres of land – Lot 14 Concession 2, Township of Trafalgar in Halton County in the District of Gore – now the town of Milton, Ontario. After moving in, on October 15th 1821, Jasper bought another 100 acres from neighbor John Whitfield for £10. Realizing that the pioneers in that area needed a grist mill, he went to work, and by 1822 he had a grist mill in operation. In 1825 he set up a sawmill and an ashery.
‘It might be said that Milton owes its early existence—from the Canadian Champion Newspaper, January 1955)
The area that became known as Milton in the Township of Trafalgar had settlers as early as 1807. It was covered with forest and marshland. The 16 Mile Creek ran through from the ‘Mountain’ to Lake Ontario. The creek originally crossed Main Street three times but was eventually straightened to its present location. Jasper Martin dammed the creek in 1822 and created the Mill Pond, first by hand digging and then using ox drawn barges.1825 started the Saw Mill.”
Apparently on one of the early days of the pond during flood time, the bank of the pond gave way. Living close by was an elderly lady who kept pigs. To her consternation all her pigs, buildings and the lady herself went floating together in the pond. This caused her neighbours some amusement.
The Martin family grew. John and Joseph were both born in England. Hanah was born in 1820 but died very soon in infancy. Edward was born in 1822 and William in 1825. Sarah died aged 33 in 1830 and Jasper died aged 36 in 1833. Both were originally buried in the Bronte Street Pioneer cemetery. Their grandson Dr. Carl Martin arranged for their remains to be moved to Evergreen Cemetery in Milton along with replicas of their gravestones which each bear the inscription: Founder of Milton. The original gravestones are in the Halton Regional Museum.
From the time Jasper started the grist mill, the number of settlers increased and formed a hamlet called ‘Martin’s Mills’. By 1837 there were 100 residents. Mayor George Brown opened the first general store in the area. North of Main Street was owned by the Martins and South by the Fosters. Hugh Foster was a cooper in the town. Most of the streets were named after family members.
The land including Milton’s Town Hall (originally the courthouse), Hugh Foster Hall and Victoria Park was given to the County by Hugh Foster. Land along Martin Street was donated by Jasper and Sarah’s oldest son John. Jasper’s property was situated between Bronte and Ontario Street, north of Main Street with the northern boundary about where Woodward Avenue is now.
In 1837 ‘Milton’ was chosen as a new name for ‘Martin’s Mills’ by the Martin family, in recognition of their favorite poet John Milton.
In December 1855 a fire destroyed the grist mill. A stone grist and flour mill was constructed by Edward Martin on the same site. In 1960 Martin Mill was sold to Robin Hood Flour Mills Ltd. This was later destroyed by fire in 1963.
The village grew and became a town in 1857. Much debate was held between Oakville and Milton to choose the County Town of Halton. Milton won the coveted position because it was situated more in the centre of the area.
Edward, third son of Jasper and Sarah Martin, farmer, mill owner, and municipal politician was elected as the second Mayor of Milton in 1858.
In 1837 Jasper’s oldest son John married Margaret Hume. They had eleven children, all born in Milton. John died by drowning in the 16 Mile Creek in 1871 at the age of 56. William, the youngest son of Jasper and Sarah, died by drowning in the millpond in 1846 at the age of 21.
Second son Joseph travelled to Australia in 1850 where in 1855 he married Jane Maunder. They had a daughter, Lucretia, in 1857 and moved back to Milton in 1859. They had 2 more children: Charles (1861) and Frederick (1859). They moved to Harrison Mills British Columbia where Joseph prospected for gold and constructed Harrison River Saw Mills. His oldest son, Charles Martin returned for a short while to marry Jessie McCraney of Oakville in 1893. Frederick also returned to Milton and married Jessie’s sister, Mabel, in 1909.
While living in BC, Charles and Jessie had 2 sons: Joseph (1897) and Carl (1899). The family all returned to Milton in 1902 where eventually 2 more sons and 5 daughters were added to the household.
Before her marriage Jessie McCraney Martin had taught all grades in a public schoolhouse in the country near Oakville. She believed that ‘knowledge was next in importance to religion and health’. Her goal was to send all the children in her family to university. The children had lots of great times together with outings to places such as the zoo, Niagara Falls, the circus and the CNE. They kept a number of animals to care for: cows, pigs, sheep, raccoons, a turtle and even a small black bear. They also had a baby alligator that was eventually eaten by the cat. They played tennis, soccer, skating and croquet. The family also played all kinds of musical instruments. The millpond was a great place for endless fun on rafts, canoes and swimming. ‘There was never any thought of …summer camps!’ Their home was like a camp.
There are several descendants of Jasper and Sarah Martin still living in Milton. The great granddaughter of Jasper and Sarah, Mildred Martin, whose father was Dr. Carl Martin, grew up in the Martin Homestead at 57 Martin Street. This stands at the end of Millside Drive, opposite the Mill Pond. Mildred’s Mother lived there until 1992, and then moved to a condo on Millside Drive overlooking the house. She died in July 1994. The house still remains in the Martin family name. Part of the building is used as an office by Sargent Farms,
The history of the Martin Family is inextricably entwined with that of the Town of Milton. Memories of the Martin family can be found in the Halton Regional Museum; the Milton Historical Society; the Evergreen Cemetery and in street names throughout old Milton. ‘Today all that remains of the once bustling mill is the attractive Mill Pond, a natural, central Milton asset that is still fished, skated on and admired in the town the Martins called home’. (David MacLauchlan) Much of this account of the historical significance of the Martin family should be credited to information gathered by:
• David MacLauchlan of Oakville
• Four Survivors (Mary Gladys, Jessie,
Carl, Pete) Fourth Generation
• Mildred Martin
• Canadian Champion Newspaper 1955