Dogs Nest committee puts best paw forward to immortalize historical Norfolk County hamlet

In dog years, a citizen’s committee in Norfolk County has spent more than half a century trying to memorialize the historical hamlet of Dogs Nest.

And like a dog with a bone, they refuse to let go of their dream of putting Dogs Nest back on the map, even if the place itself — once a carriage stop between Hamilton and Port Dover along the forerunner of Highway 6 — is long gone.

Since 2013, the Dogs Nest 1851 committee has been raising money and petitioning government officials to put up a new road sign to commemorate the former pioneer settlement, whose unusual moniker was likely inspired by a tavern of the same name — though there are as many legends about the quirky name’s origins as there are ways to spell it.

“For Norfolk County, it was a very interesting little place in its day. So we pay homage to that,” said committee chair David Oliver, one of the few residents still living within the historical borders of Dogs Nest, just east of Port Dover in Woodhouse Township.

The committee has had many “positive” meetings with the Ministry of Transportation about what form the memorial will take, Oliver told The Spectator.

“Things seem to be progressing,” he said. “Talks are still ongoing, but we have some encouraging signs.”

What they will not have is a literal sign declaring the intersection where Highway 6, Concession 2 and Marburg Road meet as the former site of Dogs Nest, which was founded in 1851 and became a destination for travellers and hunting parties until the advent of the automobile left the crossroads community behind.

Road signs were routinely stolen by souvenir hunters drawn to the unique name — to the point that the government stopped replacing them in the 1980s.

Instead of a new sign, Oliver said the MTO would sign off on a memorial stone nestled in a county-owned road allowance, set back from the main drag to keep people from stopping along the highway to take photos.

The cost to purchase, engrave and install the stone — which would be about 10 feet across by five feet high — is expected to be “well over $2,000,” Oliver said, and will be paid for entirely through donations and sales of Dogs Nest-branded clothing and merchandise.

“We’re going to do it right so it’s there for years,” he said. “And it doesn’t really need upkeep.”

Oliver expects to make his pitch to Norfolk council in April, as the green light from the MTO hinges on the county unleashing its approval.

“We would like to be unveiling it in a proper ceremony on July 16,” Oliver said. “It’s going to be a day to remember.”

The committee is grateful for the public’s support of its decade-long quest to ensure tongues will keep wagging about Dogs Nest for a dog’s age.

“People have been really good to us,” Oliver said.

“It’s just nice to see it finally getting to a point where we’re actually going to put something up. That makes everybody happy.”

, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator