THE HEADWATERS OF THE SHELTER VALLEY CREEK START IN THE fourth and fifth concession of Alnwick-Haldimand Township. The stream winds its way through the watershed to its mouth on the shore of Lake Ontario, just east of Grafton. The creek is a rich spawning ground for salmon and trout that migrate up its cold waters in the spring and the fall. Archeological evidence of “fluted projectile points” or spear heads suggest that Indigenous People fished at its mouth 10,000 years ago.
In the 19th century, the creek was a hive of industrial activity. There were over 20 mills and factories along its length – a plaster plant, flour and grist mills, a woolen and carding mill, a factory that made combs from cattle horn, a barrel factory, a wooden pump factory, a number of saw mills and a window and sash factory – that not only serviced the community but also provided employment for local residents. On the hot, steamy days of summer, the Valley Crick, as it was known locally, served yet another purpose: inviting kids of all ages to splash and swim in its cool waters.