Grain Trade in 19th Century St Marys Ontario
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Grain Trade

From History of Perth County 1825-1902
by William Johnston, published in 1903

In 1858 the Grand Trunk railway reached St. Marys, giving an impetus to all classes of trade, which was of great advantage to all.   For years subsequent to this event St. Marys grain market was far in advance of any surrounding business centres.   On the streets could be seen every day a dozen of grain buyers, all busy, with long strings of loaded waggons pouring into town from all directions.   During autumn the market square was for several hours each day blocked with teams, and extending down Queen street as far as Wellington was a mass of men and horses, with wheat and other products awaiting an opportunity to move onward.   George Carter, the pioneer grain merchant of St. Marys, was for twenty-five years a conspicuous figure amid this bustle and apparent confusion.   Mr. Carter was in many respects a daring speculator, and in his most energetic days did much to maintain the precedence this town had gained as a grain market. A vast quantity of produce flowed into St. Marys at that period, the Grand Trunk being the primary cause, which in a few years was disseminated amongst several other points.   In 1860 the main line was opened to Sarnia, and markets were established in Lucan, and, later still, in Granton.   This seriously affected the western trade, and the subsequent building of the London, Huron & Bruce railroad destroyed it to a still greater extent.   The opening of these roads, though most advantageous to the sections of country through which they passed, almost for a time paralyzed St. Marys.   During the last ten years many evidences of returning prosperity are observable, arising from causes which we trust will be lasting and conducive to solid progress.   To facilitate the volume of business arising out of this movement in grain and other farm products, a branch of the Bank of Montreal was established in 1862, and later on the Traders Bank also opened a branch, which two financial institutions have aided greatly in developing trade in this locality.

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