Hiram Capron's Life
The Beginnings of Paris

As Capron dug his roots into Paris, he began to take actions to help develop the land from a set of mills and businesses into a proper village. He focused his energies on changes which would help settlers to reach Paris, and to provide them with the amenities they needed to live out their lives there. One of his first projects was the development of Governor’s Road, the Paris section of Dundas Street, which was at the time the only road which led into and out of Paris. By expanding it and improving its quality, he was able to make it passable and allow traders and, perhaps more importantly, settlers to reach Paris (Smith, 17-18).

Capron was also responsible for the first town plan of Paris. In 1829, he hired Lewis Burwell – a prolific surveyor who also surveyed Brantford, Mount Vernon, Bishop’s Gate and Elora (UEL) – to survey the town into streets and draw up the first town maps (1999.2058.01, 84). Along these streets, he sold his land to settlers; at times, he even gave land away for free (Smith, 19) to help encourage the transformation of the area into a town.

While Capron wasn’t an enthusiastic politician (1999.0376.01), his position as town founder made him one of the first prominent town politicians. He was its first reeve (Warner, 465) when Paris was officially incorporated as a village, and one of the first town councilors (Smith, 53). He was also ultimately responsible for naming the town, which originally held the unwieldy name “Forks of the Grand River.” Feeling that this name was too long, he held a town meeting and proposed that, since the town was built on beds of plaster of Paris, it should be renamed to “Paris.” Capron got his way, and from then on “Paris” became the town’s official name (Warner, 463).
Plan of the Town of Paris, 1847
Plan of the Town of Paris, 1847 Details
Page 84 from Hiram Capron's 1828-1831 account book, detailing work with Lewis Burwell
Page 84 from Hiram Capron's 1828-1831 account book, detailing work with Lewis Burwell Details
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