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1800 History Detail
Water driven sawmills and later, steam driven wood and grain mills appear along area creeks and rivers. Settlers are frantically clearing the dense forests to allow the planting of crops. The Lakeshore region has a brisk lumber business for decades until the Essex Peninsula has relatively few stands of natural timber left.
As the land is cleared, promising agricultural activity takes hold. This remains a prime activity, especially in the areas of Lakeshore which were formerly Maidstone, Rochester, and Tilbury North and Tilbury West Townships.
The first Black residents of the region were slaves owned by French settlers who moved from Detroit after Jay's Treaty of 1796. There are also records of Black slaves fleeing to the Maidstone area in the early years of the 19th Century. But when the slave trade is abolished in the British Empire in 1833, the Lakeshore region becomes increasingly sought after as a sanctuary. A spirited and lively Black community grows up and flourishes still, especially in the Puce area of the former Maidstone Township, where the famous John Freeman Walls historic site is operated by his descendents. The Lakeshore region becomes one of the prominent terminals on the storied Underground Railroad..a network of anti-slavery activists helping thousands of Black people to "Follow The North Star" to Canada and freedom.