The Elgin area was settled in the early 1800s by farmer-landowner Ebenezer Halladay and for its first decades was called "Halladay's Corners". Even though the Rideau Canal is some distance away from Elgin, its construction brought hundreds of stone masons and labourers to camps and quarries near Halladay's Corners to cut the thick layers of sandstone for the great dam and locks at Jones Falls and the locks at Davis and Chaffeys. In 1841, Mormons from the United States recruited followers in the area and started to construct a temple. Many joined the Mormon exodus through Illinois to Salt Lake City in 1849. But shopkeeper Ira Mitchell stayed and for some years thereafter, he succeeded in calling his community Nauvoo after a Mormon community in Illinois. A post office was established in 1850 and this growing community was named after the eighth Earl of Elgin, James Bruce, Governor General of Canada from 1847 to 1854. Like Forfar, Elgin has a sister community of the same name in Scotland. Throughout the last half of the 19th century, Elgin grew to become the most prominent community in South Crosby Township and a thriving service centre for farmers, commuters, summer residents and visitors to the surrounding lakes, a role it continues to play today.
St. Paul's Anglican Church photo by: Ken Watson
Early Elgin is represented by the Ebenezer Halladay House built in 1844. It is the earliest stone private house in South Crosby. As the 19th century progressed, Elgin took on a gracious air as its merchants prospered and farmers from the surrounding farmland retired to the community. Public buildings such as St. Paul's Anglican Church built 1893-94, Elgin United Church (1894) and St. Columbanus Roman Catholic Church (1898) attest to thriving congregations while the stylish, rather grand brick lie school erected in 1887, provided education for a growing young population. J.R. Dargavel's brick general store, when built in 1893, was one of the largest general stores in North Leeds, It is now an antique store. The imposing home of Henry Laishley when built circa 1886 served as symbol of the prosperity of Elgin's business community. It is now "Guthrie House", a family services centre and social focal point of a modern and dynamic community.
In the area surrounding Elgin can be found several fine buildings which speak to a prosperous farming community. The George DeLong House (South Crosby Ward, Lot 18, Con 1) built ca. 1832 is possibly the oldest frame house in South Crosby. The William Pennock House (ca. 1856-57) (South Crosby Ward, Lot 14, Con 2) and the Stephen Remember Ripley House, ca. 1855, (South Crosby Ward, Lot 9, Con 2) are excellent examples of stone buildings along with the Delong School House (1844) (South Crosby Ward, Lot 17, Con 1) now incorporated into a private residence.