A Brief History
Coldwater’s first settlers came to the area in the mid 1700’s. Coldwater is said to be the second oldest community in Ontario with Penetanguishene being the oldest. The Coldwater Road is known to be over 400 years old; there is a monument between Price’s Corners and Warminster dedicated to the Coldwater Road
About 150 years ago Ojibway Chief Aisance lived on land here which white men at one time valued at only 5 cents an acre. Coldwater was the scene of a cholera epidemic in 1832 and was once the headquarters of a 9,800-acre Ojibway territory. The compelling beauty of the village attracted captains of industry, small merchants and scores of others over the years. Once it was the location of a thriving lumber industry.
Starting in 1828, the government built at Coldwater a mill, store and school, and dwellings for Indigenous families at every mile along the Coldwater Road to the Narrows.
The only whites allowed on the reservation were those connected with the Indian Agency in charge of Thomas Gummersal Anderson. He had been a fur trader on the Mississippi River and its tributaries until the war of 1812 – 1814. After the war he was placed on the staff of the Indian Department and lived in Drummond Island. When this island passed into the hands of the United States in 1828, Captain Anderson became superintendent of Indian Affairs. He died in 1827 in his 97th year.
Rich lands held by the Indigenous People on their land became the envy of the white men.
In 1836, his first year in office, Sir Francis Bond Head, discontinued in Simcoe County the annual delivery of presents to the Indigenous People and held it at Manitoulin Island, to induce the Indigenous People to withdraw some distance from the white man.
The same course had been advocated by Sir John Colbourne. Sir Francis did not look with favour on the Indigenous schools in Coldwater, which had been established by missionaries and teachers.
In 1838 at the instigation of the white settlers and the government, the 500 Indigenous People on their territory divided 1,600 acres in Rama Township for which they paid 800 pounds (the white settlers had abandoned it) and the isolated 2,712 acres of Beausoleil Island with its sandy mainly non-fertile land.Two hundred and sixty-six Indigenous People went to Beausoliel and later to Christian Island, under Coldwater’s Chief Aisance. The remainder went to Rama. Their original 9,800 acres of good land had been exchanged for less than half that amount and much of it was worthless.
The Coldwater area was set up in 1830 as part of the Ojibwa Indigenous Land under Chief John Assance (Aisance). Included in the reserve was the current city of Orillia. The Ojibwa named the area “Gis-si-nau-se-bing”, meaning Cold River or Cold Water.
The Indigenous People moved off the reserve to Beausoleil Island and Christian Island in 1836 and white pioneers began to take over the farming establishments, including the Grist Mill. The name “Coldwater” was retained, and the area became part of the Township of Medonte.
In 1908, the Village of Coldwater gained independence by incorporating and separating from Medonte.
The Town we know today
In 1994, The Village of Coldwater was amalgamated into the Township of Severn. Today Coldwater enjoys the status of being the oldest and most historic village in Severn Township. Considered a rural village, the population has grown to approximately 1400.