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The hamlet of Aikensville, located on County Road 34, in western Puslinch, is now indicated by blue signage, marking its historic name. Along the roadside, a cluster of new homes form a small community. The origin of the name is obviously a family name, but the time when the community was given the name is less clear. The hamlet did not develop beyond a simple crossroads convenience. The Gazetteers published in the 19th century did not include it in their listing of towns and villages. Yet the name for the hamlet still exists. Aikensville acquired its name from the Aikens family, members of which still live there.
The Aikens family has been on lot 13 of the front of Concession 3, (County Road 34) continuously since before 1858, beginning with James and Nancy (Henry) Aikens. James (1833) had emigrated from Ireland. Nancy was born in Ontario. He was still on the farm in 1906. James’ son William J (Nov 4, 1858-1933), was born on the third concession. He and his first wife Henrietta Paddock lived on lot 13, before moving to the adjacent lot 12. Two of their sons, Thomas (1888-1981), James (1891-1972), continued on the properties. Wm J. was a contractor, who after his wife’s death, married her sister, Caroline (1881-1972). Over the years, several Aikens families lived on adjacent lots on both sides of the road.
Aikensville may have become a recognizable community as a result of Puslinch Side Road 12 being since it intersected with the concession in the middle of the area so named. As early as 1837-38, a line of road was laid out from the town line of Guelph Township, at MacLaren's saw mill, to pass between lots twelve and thirteen, to the township of Beverly. Permission to build this road was given by the quarter sessions at Hamilton, at the request of the settlers, whose aim was to have a convenient access to Hamilton markets.
The plan for the road had to come before the authorities in Guelph, as the Puslinch people were anxious for its continuation to Guelph. However, influential people backed out of the agreement because the road was to pass through their property. Although the agreement was in writing, they succeeded in preventing the Guelph authorities from finishing the road, so that instead of being a through road it became merely a local side road, which on the 1877 map, ran from the Guelph Township line to Concession 2. Since the road did not meet its original aim, it would have only been used by local traffic. At present, it is only open to through traffic for about 1 km between concessions 4 and 4A (Forestal Road). It was at the intersection of side road 12 and the third concession 3 that the community sprouted.
Possibly it was the Public House which opened on the south side of concession 3, on lot 13, which gave impetus to the name. It was open for several years, operated by members of the Kinsella family who occupied the eastern half of lot 13, across from the Aikens homestead 1861-1877, and John and Edward are names associated with the tavern. In 1860, eighteen taverns were reported in Puslinch. It is likely that the Aikensville business was one of them. There is a 1872 record that Mary Kinsella applied for a license for a hotel known as Craig’s. This may or may not be the establishment at Aikensville. The growing temperance movement, and limitations introduced by Council, probably led to its demise.
The people of this area went to Hespeler or Aberfoyle to get their mail. The first Puslinch Post Office opened as early as 1850, with others following in the 1860's. It was not until 1909 that the enterprising Donald McCaig (son of Alex McCaig) became Post Master, and the name of the office was Aikensville. He may have used the old public house building to house the office. The mail was brought out to it, from Hespeler. According to Postal records, Aikensville Post Office existed only from 1909-04-01 until 1912 when the Post Master, Donald McCaig, who was born in Puslinch, and had farmed there, left the township and relocated in Alberta, and the Post Office was closed. Soon after, about 1913,.rural mail was put into operation, and customers began receiving their mail in their own mail box, beside the road, at the end of their laneway. Thus ended an era when they could go to the local post office, where they could meet and socialize with their neighbours and friends. The brief life of Aikensville Post Office did not prevent the name Aikensville from achieving its place in history.
Membership in the society is open to anyone interested in the history of Puslinch Township giving you access to the archives, assistance with your research from committed voluteers, a newsletter and occasional events of historic interest.
29 Brock Road South
Puslinch Historical Society
c/o Puslinch Library
R.R. #3, 29 Brock Road South
Guelph (Aberfoyle), Ontario N1H 6H9