Historic Hamlet

Glen Williams is a historic hamlet located along the base the Niagara Escarpment. Founded in 1825, many of the buildings here are original, often dating to the 1840s and 1850s; several are included in The Canadian Register of Historic Places (CRHP).

The dominant feature of Glen Williams is the Credit River as it snakes it way through the village. This is only fitting since the industries that once dominated this village were founded on the power of the waters of the Credit.

All photos on this page courtesy of the Esquesing Historical Society Collection

Benajah Williams

In 1825, Benajah Williams and his wife, Elizabeth Kennedy, brought their large family to  Esquesing Township. As in most emerging settlements, the power of the local stream, in this case the Credit River, was used to run saw and flour mills. But for the local farmers, the Williams were more than just millers. They were blacksmiths (Joel Williams), cabinetmakers (Isaac Williams), leather tanners (David Williams), and general store (Charles Williams). Since Benajah had run a textile mill in the Niagara peninsula before moving to the Credit, it was natural for his son Jacob to open a woollen mill here in 1839.

Photo Right C.1908: Wheeler children on Prince Street, framed building on left was the schoolhouse until 1873. 

Wheeler’s General Store

The settlement which grew up around all this activity was known locally as Williamsburgh until 1852. Postal authorities refused to give the community a post office unless its name was unique so it became Glen Williams (as there was already a Williamsburgh settlement on the St. Lawrence River). Although Charles Williams would be the first postmaster, Wheeler’s General Store (The Copper Kettle Pub today) was where generations of residents in the Glen went for their mail.

Photo Left: Glen Williams, Main Street. Carriage and team of horses posed in front of Wheeler’s store

1850’s Glen Williams

William Alexander opened a hotel in the village in 1848 (now a private residence). Besides Charles Williams’ saw and flour mills, the woollen mills and the tannery, there were cabinet makers, pump makers, shingle makers, Joseph Tweedle’s and Archibald Cooper’s saw mills, and Leslie’s brickyards. The village even purchased its own fire engine in 1856 (only to see it destroyed in a fire ten years later!).

Photo Right C. 1910: Hotel of Thomas J. Hill, Main Street

Beaumont Knitting Mill

The former Beaumont Knitting Mill still stands on the north edge of the village. Built by Samuel Beaumont in 1882 it replaced the converted saw mill he acquired from Joseph Tweedle several years before.

Photo Left c.1914: Main Street looking towards Wheeler’s store.

Glen Williams: An Oasis in the Credit Valley

A history of Glen Williams written by John Mark Rowe entitled Glen Williams: An Oasis in the Credit Valley is available at:

You may also be interested in the following publications:

Down In The Glen (.pdf)

A publication by Richard E. Ruggle (Rector of the Church of St. Alban the Martyr) for the Glen Williams Cemetery Board – 1978

Historic Glen Williams(.pdf)

An article by local historian Mark Benbow Rowe for the Esquesing Historical Society

The Glen

Though none of the original Williams family still lives here, the spirit of community, the relaxed village pace, and the convenience to many larger centres have led many others to to call “The Glen” home!