Developing the Ontario Colony Lands was complex as Ontario was further removed from the water source and the Pomona Land and Water Company was contending for the same water source. The dispute was settled through negotiations with each side agreeing to equally divide the rights to the surface water of San Antonio Canyon. George Chaffey was willing to go along with this decision as he already had determined that far more water ran underground.
Chaffey faced two obstacles in developing the land for agricultural purposes. He had to secure a means of making the water available from the mountains to the low lands and he had to insure everyone received fair proportion.
Previous water distribution was based on a riparian system that resulted in those closest to the water source receiving the greatest portion. Those further removed from the water source were less likely to receive an adequate portion. Often these people had to resort to illegal means to receive their fair share. George resolved this issue by granting with each purchase of land, one share in a water company. The water company assumed responsibility for the distribution of the water, thereby guaranteeing each landholder an equal distribution to the amount of land they owned.
Nathan A. Stowell obtained the contract to make the irrigation pipe for the colony and established the Ontario Pipe Works at Eighth Street and Euclid Avenue. In December, 1882, workers laid the first cement pipe. Sixty miles of pipe ranging in size from 6 inches in diameter to 30 inches in diameter were used to supply water to the highest corner of each 10 acre lot.
Concurrent with the surface water project, George Chaffey designed and started building a tunnel to tap the underground water. The work began in early 1883 and was not completed until 1888 at an estimated cost of $75,000. The experience of the Chinese workers who had helped to build the transcontinental railroad played an invaluable part because of the very difficult height restrictions that existed.
A critical part of the development of the Ontario Colony was access to the railroads. At the time Chaffey was purchasing the 6,216 acres of the Cucamonga Rancho from Captain Joseph Garcia he also purchased 2,500 acres between the Ontario town site and Rancho Cucamonga. Two of the three owners of this land were affiliated with the Pomona Land and Water Company. Not only did he obtain more water rights with this transaction he also brought the colony land to the Southern Pacific Railroad and the valuable exposure and transportation access.
George Chaffey was a very ambitious businessman as he commenced selling his lots in December of 1882, about one year after he had arrived and began his water distribution system. By the spring of 1886 over 400 families had moved into the Ontario area. George’s vision for Ontario involved four major principles
1. Distribute the water to each shareholder through cement pipes with each shareholder to receive his fair proportion, regardless of his distance from the water source.
2. Construct a major thoroughfare from north to south and make it a thing of beauty. This became Euclid Avenue which became a parade ground for the city of Ontario’’s prior All-States Parade, famous for its mile long picnic table. It is a double avenue, 200 foot wide with a center parkway with 66 foot streets on each side.
3. Provide a college for the purpose of agricultural education for the people of the colony and general education of the children.
4. Provide a clause in the deed of each landholder absolutely forbidding the sale of any intoxicating liquor. (Ontario did not permit the sale of alcohol until the end of Prohibition in 1933)
The seeds of change for the ownership and guidance of Ontario started in February of 1885 when representatives of Australia were directed to George Chaffey, Jr.. They were seeking advice on irrigating their desert lands such as those in their Australian state of Victoria. They made an offer to Chaffey and he sent a representative to investigate the feasibility of their offer. Positive feedback followed and in January of 1886 Chaffey personally made a trip down under. A few weeks later George cabled his brother William to sell all their assets.
With Chaffey selling his assets, there began a period in local history known as the Frankish Era.
Charles Frankish was a native of England and had arrived in Toronto, Canada at the age of 17. After living in various places in the United States he moved to Riverside, California at the recommendation of his sister. He then purchased an orange grove. Upon learning the Chaffey Brothers were interested in selling their interest in the Ontario Colony he helped from the Ontario Land and Improvement Company. He moved to Ontario in March of 1886 and maintained his residence there until 1927. He became the resident manager of the newly formed company and built a house located on the northwest corner of Emporia Avenue and Laurel Avenue.
Many people say George Chaffey had a dream and Charles Frankish made it come true.
One of the priority items for the new company was the extension of the colony south of the Southern Pacific railroad tracks, with Euclid Avenue serving as the main north-south street. The company purchased 924 acres from the Pomona Land and Water Company, which became known as the South Side Tract. North of the railroad tracks stood two large hotels, on the east side of Euclid Avenue stood the Southern Pacific hotel while the Ontario Hotel was on the west side. As it developed, the heart of the Ontario business district became located on this South Side Tract. Major buildings were: the AOUW (Ancient Order of United Workmen), often called the Workman’’s Hall with an Opera House located upstairs, the Southern Pacific and Chino Valley train stations, a livery stable and Waddingham’’s Lumber Mill. A major attraction was the Bank Business block located on Main Street west of Euclid Avenue. It had a number of large buildings with numerous businesses located within.
In the last day of November, 1888, the first run of the new streetcar made its seven mile run from downtown Ontario to 24th Street in North Ontario’s powered by the use of mules. The hour long trip up to the top of Euclid Avenue was an 1,000 foot ride while the 20 minute gravity ride down the narrow gauge tracks occurred with the mules on the rear platform. This operation was electrified in 1895.
The incorporation for Ontario was discussed in 1887, with the main issue being the control of local monies. The Ontario Land and Improvement Company, led by Charles Frankish, was strongly against it as it perceived it as a threat to their existence. They stated that taxes would have to increase to cover the costs of grading, water development and beautification which they were currently providing. In 1888 incorporation was voted down by a count of 128 to 55 with most of the opposition coming from North Ontario. With the Ontario Land and Improvement Company still controlling the water company, a company of water users sought legal advice and it was determined to incorporate the original half-mile square town site located around Euclid Avenue and A Street (now Holt Avenue). Without North Ontario in the vote and by restricting the area to Ontario, the vote held on November 21, 1891 favored cityhood with 40 yeas and 35 nays. On December 8, 1891, the county Board of supervisors declared Ontario a sixth class municipality.