Paisley surrounds its residents and visitors with history. From the legendary confluence of two rivers, the Saugeen and the Teeswater, to the heritage red-brick buildings, this charming community conveys an atmosphere both relaxing and inspiring.
The Saugeen has been a travel route since long before European settlers brought their rafts of household goods downstream from Walkerton. In 1851, Simon Orchard and Samuel Rowe identified the rivers' meeting as an ideal place to found a village. And so Paisley, named for a town in Renfrewshire, Scotland, was born, although it was 1874 before an elected council took over governing of the village
More settlers arrived, building homes, churches, stores, a school, and industries. At one time, the power of water ran seven mills, producing lumber, woollens, flour and livestock feed. Among Paisley's other industries were a foundry, a box and crate factory, a brick and tile works, and a meat-packing plant. Population of the village swelled until the late 1800s, then shrank as many families moved to the Canadian West. Industries largely followed that cycle until, in the centennial year of 1974, the Historical Album of Paisley named only three: Bruce Packers Limited, N.E. Hagedorn & Sons Ltd. [makers of agricultural equipment], and Paisley Brick and Tile Co. Construction of the nearby Bruce Nuclear Power Development brought another influx of residents in the 1970s, along with entrepreneurs who established businesses to serve villagers' needs.
The Saugeen still carries canoes and kayaks in their colourful hundreds. Paisley is a main drop-in spot for the renowned Saugeen River Route from Hanover to Lake Huron, with three access points. Area outfitters provide all the equipment you need, along with experienced instructors and guides for a safe and enjoyable floating adventure. You'll not likely meet a steamboat, but you may well hear tales of the long-ago Water Witch that once plied the Saugeen.
If exploration on land is more your style, Paisley offers several walking tours. You can stroll several kilometres along the grassy dykes that contain the spring-surging Saugeen. On the streets of the village, follow the Heritage Walk to see homes a century-and-a-half old, set amid lovingly cared-for grounds. Right at the old market square you'll find the three-storey Town Hall dating from 1876 and the intriguing Firehose Tower, built in 1891. A pleasant walk or a short drive takes you along the Teeswater River to the five-storey Paisley City Mill, built in 1885 and recently restored as the setting for one of Paisley's interesting shops. Three other mills offer unique settings where public access is welcomed by businesses.
In any season, 25 kilometres of trails at the Bruce County Brant Tract provide active recreation for hikers, mountain-bikers, cross-country skiers, snowshoers and horseback riders.
Just a few steps from the square, the Treasure Chest Museum presents a remarkable collection of household and farm tools, antique furniture, memorabilia and themed displays. Open during the summer, it offers resources for researchers, and a gift counter. The area's agricultural heritage comes alive each August at the Bruce County Heritage Farm, just down County Road 3. Steam-powered equipment for farming and sawing, horses at work, music and fun in the country mode offer something for everyone in the family. The yearly Agricultural Fair, highlighted by one of the area's best horse shows, has been a September event since 1856.
Close enough to Lake Huron for day-trips to its beaches and harbours, Paisley invites a longer stay with comfortable and charming bed & breakfast homes, river-front camping at the in-town Rotary Park campsite and close by at Saugeen Bluffs Conservation Area. For those who decide to make Paisley their home, it's good to know that properties here provide excellent value in a friendly community with its own elementary schools, community centre, several churches, a public library, and health services. Social and service clubs keep residents' calendars full, whether it's curling, storytime at the library, getting together at the Legion or one of the community's special events, Paisley offers plenty to do.