In 1784 the British Crown granted to the Six Nations Indians, in perpetuity, all the land along the Grand River six miles deep on each side of the river from its source to Lake Erie. The Indians, led by Joseph Brant, had the land surveyed in 1791 and divided into Indian Reserve lands as well as large tracts which the intended to sell to developers. One such developer was the Honourable William Dickson who, in 1816, came into sole possession of 90,000 acres of land along the Grand River which was later to make up North and South Dumfries Townships.
Mr. Dickson intended to divide the land into smaller lots of be sold, primarily, to the Scottish settlers whom he hoped to attract to Canada. In the company of Absalom Shade, Mr. Dickson immediately toured his new lands intending to develop a town site which would serve as the focal point for his attempts to populate the countryside. They chose the site where Mill Creek flows into the Grand River and in 1816 the settlement of Shade´s Mills was born. The new settlement grew slowly but by 1825, though still very small, it was the largest settlement in the area and was important enough to obtain a post office. Mr. Dickson decided that a new name was needed for the Post Office and consequently the settlement and he chose Galt in honour of the Scottish novelist and Commissioner of Canada Company, John Galt. Settlers resisted the introduction of the new name preferring the more familiar Shade´s Mills. After Mr. Galt visited Mr. Dickson in the settlement two years later, the name "Galt" received more wide spread acceptance.
In its early days Galt was an agricultural community serving the needs of the farmers in the surrounding countryside. By the late 1830´s, however, the settlement began to develop an industrial base and reputation for quality products that, in later years, earned the town the nickname "The Manchester of Canada". Galt was the largest and most important town in the area until the beginning of the 20th century when it was finally overtaken by Kitchener. The town continued its steady growth and reveled in its reputation as an industrial town whose products reached around the world.
In the late 1960´s the provincial government began looking at ways in which municipal governments could become more effective. It was proposed that the Regional Municipality of Waterloo possessing greater powers and responsibilities would replace the County of Waterloo. As part of that process, the City of Galt would amalgamate with the towns of Preston and Hespeler to form a single city. So it was on January 1, 1973 the City of Galt ceased to exist as a separate political entity and became part of the new City of Cambridge.