The area that is presently Bronte was first settled by Europeans beginning in 1807, after the land was purchased from the Mississauga tribe and Trafalgar Township was surveyed. By 1856, Bronte was a busy Lake Ontario port, exporting wheat, building ships, and developing a thriving commercial fishery and stonehooking industry. The town's population grew to 550. With the coming of the railroad, the harbour's business declined and the population went down to 220.
Bronte was incorporated as a village in 1952. Ten years later, the village and part of the Township of Trafalgar were amalgamated into the Town of Oakville.
Unlike neighbouring Oakville, where by the late 1820s William Chisholm had financed a harbour privately, development of port facilities in Bronte was delayed until the founding of the Bronte Harbour Company. Led by Samuel Bealey Harrison, a politician, lawyer and judge, residents of Bronte petitioned the government of Upper Canada to incorporate a company to build a harbour at the mouth of Twelve Mile Creek. After a 10-year struggle to obtain support, the Bronte Harbour Company was founded in 1846. By 1856, construction of Bronte's newly dredged harbour with two piers and a lighthouse was complete. The village's waterfront was transformed from a shallow marshland, inaccessible from the water, to a harbour with sufficient depth to sustain itself as a thriving Lake Ontario port.
Learn more about the history of Bronte Harbour by opening the Bronte Fishermen’s Memorial – Facts and History brochure (pdf).
Bronte Harbour Map (pdf)