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Alliston is located in the Holland Marsh, a large agricultural area. The town was named after William Alliston, who owned land in the area and donated a parcel of it for the construction of St. James Anglican Church (1856). It was incorporated as a village on March 3, 1874 and then as a town on January 1, 1890. In 1998 it amalgamated with Beeton and Tottenham to form New Tecumseth; this came into effect on January 1st 2001 when all three communities became townships within New Tecumseth's boundaries under provincial legislation passed by Mike Harris' government that year which eliminated many small municipalities across Ontario due to their relatively high cost per capita compared to larger ones such as cities or counties. The first settlers were Mennonites from Pennsylvania who arrived around 1805-06 at what would become known as "Old Settlement".