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“Haliburton is a real Four Seasons place where you can do anything that you want to do!”

CHRIS BISHOP Sam’s Ski and Bike, Haliburton Ontario

Should you bold ‘village’ dwellers every venture north of the A316 into what the locals call the true St Margarets you may find yourself ambling along the long and gently curving avenue that is Haliburton Road. Following the path of the River Crane on its last tidal half mile before emptying into the Thames this little slice of Arcadia also marks the border between Hounslow and Richmond.

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Haliburton Road takes its name from Thomas Chandler Haliburton, a lawyer and novelist who was born in Windsor, Nova Scotia in Canada on December 17th 1796. In 1821, after having the good sense to marry Louisa, a girl from Henley-on-Thames, he established a successful law practice at Annapolis Royal. By 1841 he was a Judge of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court. In his spare time, Thomas Haliburton wrote a series of folksy books following the adventures of Sam Slick, an itinerant clockmaker. The books were extremely popular both in the U.S and Europe. Part of their appeal rested on the witty and much quoted sayings that pepper the stories – “you can’t get blood out of a stone”, “six of one and half a dozen of the other”, “a stitch in time saves nine” and “truth is stranger than fiction”. The Sam Slick books are still in print.

A song about Thomas Chandler Haliburton

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In 1856, Thomas Haliburton came to Great Britain and moved into Gordon House in north St Margarets, just a ‘stone’s throw’ – another ‘Sam Slickism’ – from the orchard that 40 years later would become the road that bears his name. In April 1861 he became the Chairman of the Canadian Land and Emigration Company, an English company set up in 1859, to promote the rapid settlement of newly created townships in the Canadian Province of Ontario. Mr Haliburton seemed to have been a prolific ‘namer-of-parts’ because one of the new Ontario settlements took his own name… as did the Haliburton community located in Pictou County, Nova Scotia,

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100 years on Haliburton township in Ontario now has a population of about 18,000 souls, packing in 11 people to every square mile - which is not packing them at all! Because of the region’s forest scenery and its many lakes and rivers Haliburton’s main economy is now dominated by tourism and ‘summer-lets’. The ratio of properties occupied in the summer months, to properties occupied year-round is about 3 to 1. Describing the town as ‘a community of the arts’ the Haliburton County Development Corporation (HCDC) heads up a project called ‘Innovative Haliburton’ to promote the creative economy in the area.

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As part of this the town runs a series of cultural festival events throughout the year. These include concerts, a film festival, guided hikes through local forests and what has been described as “The Biggest Picnic Ever”. Of course lacking either forests and lakes - although we do have a small river - our own local chip off the Haliburton block cannot compete with our Canadian cousins, but we did have a “Big Lunch” street party in June and are looking forward to our GASS Day street sale early in September. Humble but hospitable. (It is worth mentioning that we don’t have moose or wolves either which is a blessing)

In 1863 Thomas Haliburton took up the famous Banting Diet, the high protein forerunner of the Atkins Diet and managed to lose 10 inches around his waist. Unfortunately the Banting Diet had the same regrettable effect on Thomas Chandler Haliburton as the Atkins Diet is alleged to have had on its creator Robert Atkins… death! Haliburton died on August 27th 1865 and was buried in All Saints Churchyard in Old Isleworth. To the abiding gratitude of the pallbearers, he was a few stones lighter than his former self!

Haliburton - a community of the arts!

– from Martyn Day