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The town is named after Lord Aylmer, who was the Governor General of Canada from 1818 to 1828. The name "Aylmer" comes from the French spelling of his surname (Élméré). In 1793, John Graves Simcoe travelled through what would become Elgin County and recorded in his journal that he had found a beautiful valley with an excellent harbour on Lake Erie. He also noted that there were already some settlers living there and thought it would be a good place for more people to live. In 1794, Captain Thomas Talbot founded Port Talbot at this site as part of the Crown Reserve system set up by Simcoe in order to encourage settlement along Lake Erie's shores; however no settlers came until after 1800 when land grants began being issued for agricultural purposes only.