Originally recognized as Smiths Corner after J.E. Smith, who operated a local store there, Burtts Corner was founded on rich family history and economic growth.
In 1819, Benjamin Burtt tied the knot with Elizabeth Crouse, a Loyalist Philip Crouse’s daughter, establishing their home six kilometers from the Keswick River in Smiths Corner. Their progeny, Benjamin R. Burtt, introduced the inaugural Burtt’s Store to the community between 1861 and 1871. Early on, it was commonplace for patrons to exchange eggs for groceries. Subsequently, he amplified his retail establishment by adding a post office.
In the 1880s, a significant shift occurred as the nearby railroad transitioned from narrow to standard gauge, reducing shipping costs and consequently amplifying the sale of local timber products. Railroad stations emerged as gateways to local communities, often distanced considerably from the existing community centers. Due to the nearby Cardigan Settlement’s influence, Cardigan Station was established in Smiths Corner, roughly 16 kilometers away.
By the 1890s, the reins of Burtt’s Store were held by Elwood Burtt, Benjamin and Elizabeth Burtt’s grandson. In addition to managing the store, he also owned Burtt’s Sawmill, the town’s largest employer, with a workforce of up to sixty men.
Elwood’s takeover of Burtt’s Store also brought along the stewardship of the local post office, a profitable venture as it drove footfall to his store. In 1893, as the Canadian government formalized a nationwide postal system, Elwood ensured that his store was chosen as the official post office for the community, appointing himself as the official postmaster.
The burgeoning community was often referred to as Cardigan Station, causing confusion with the community of Cardigan’s mail delivery. The community was in dire need of a unique name, and Elwood Burtt, given his position, was ideally placed to guide the decision. Burtt’s Store and Burtt’s Sawmill had been community fixtures for over 30 and 20 years, respectively. Though several names were suggested, it was Burtt’s Corner, championed by Elwood, that gained official recognition. By 1898, the community boasted two additional stores, a hotel, a sawmill, and a population of 250.
A final, less favored name change occurred circa 1985 when the government decided to drop the possessive, changing Burtt’s Corner to Burtts Corner.
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