The Town of Rochester’s beginning occurred in the late 1600’s when Europeans from the Netherlands, France and England settled into the area. The formation of the Town was similar to the way other area Town’s formed – by the banding together of a number of smaller Hamlets. There are old stone houses in the Hamlets, which are enduring reminders of the history of the area, and some of them even have their own one room school house.
The basic activity of nearly every family in the Town of Rochester during the 18th and 19th centuries was farming. However, many farmers had additional occupations, including production of wintergreen oil, quarrying of millstone and bluestone, milling of corn, wheat and lumbers (and, later, paper), blacksmithing, coopering, shoemaking, wagon-making and store-keeping. The entire Town of Rochester enjoyed a period of prosperity from 1902 into the 1940s when the Ontario & Western Railway provided transportation-to-market for products of the local farms, mills and quarries. The trains also brought summer visitors from urban centers such as New York City. The summer resort industry has played an important role in the economic life of the Town. Accommodations were first provided in private homes, and later in over 50 bungalow colonies, camps, boarding houses and hotels.