The founders of Paisley were Simon Orchard and Samuel T. Rowe, residents of Durham, Ontario. In the spring of 1851, the two came to Walkerton intending to settle there. Rowe became involved in a building project in Walkerton, but Orchard had a dream of rich lands where two rivers met. So, Orchard constructed a raft of cedar logs (only 30 feet by 15 feet!) and with his family and household goods, floated down the Saugeen River with no fixed destination.
On the first eve of their journey, Orchard and his family made camp along the Saugeen at the mouth of the Teeswater River. In daylight, they were pleased with the surroundings and decided to settle. On the north side of the river (present-day Baptist Church) they built a crude shanty from boards they had brought on the raft.
Samuel Rowe arrived by raft at the same location a few weeks later. He cleared land on the south side of the river and built a cabin across from the present Town Hall. Surveyors locating the Elora Road came to the spot where Orchard and Rowe had settled. A log building was erected and became known as Rowe’s Tavern.
In 1856, Orchard and Rowe obtained a patent from the Crown and the village was surveyed. In February 1856, the first post office was opened with Thomas Orchard as postmaster. The village was named Paisley after a town in Renfrewshire, Scotland.
By 1867, a foundry and woolen mill were established and the community prospered. In 1872 the Wellington, Grey and Bruce Railway was completed. By this point, the village had 1038 inhabitants. In 1874 Paisley was incorporated as a Village.
One of Canada’s outstanding artists, David Brown Milne (1882 – 1953) was born on a farm near Burgoyne, Saugeen Township, and raised in Paisley. Milne served as an official Canadian war artist during the First World War. Working mainly in water-colours, he developed a highly personal impressionistic style of painting. Among his better known works are: “Water Lilies, Temagami”; “Painting Places”; “Snow in Bethlehem”; “Rites of Autumn”; and “White Poppy”. His paintings are found in many of the public galleries in Canada.
While in Paisley, be sure to visit The Treasure Chest Museum. Norman Hagedorn and his wife Ina devoted their retirement years to collecting antiques — many of which were brought home from their travels throughout the country and overseas. In 1985, Norman opened his collection as a museum to the public. The museum is owned now by the Municipality of Arran-Elderslie.
This information obtained from An Historic Album of Paisley, published 1974, and from Southern Ontario Tourism, www.soto.on.ca