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The area was first settled in 1806 by William Wainfleet, an Englishman from Lincolnshire. The township was named after him. A post office opened in 1832 and a village formed around it called Wainfleet Centre (now known as Old Town). The village of Port Burwell on Lake Erie's shoreline became the main centre for commerce and shipping instead of the inland location at Old Town, which is now part of Port Burwell today. In 1850, a new town site was surveyed to be located closer to the lakefront at Long Beach; this became known as New Wainfleet or simply "Wainfleet". In 1974, most land south-west of Highway 3A between Long Beach Road (formerly Ontario Highway 2) and County Road 21 were annexed into Thorold Township while other areas north-east along Lake Erie remained within jurisdiction with Niagara Region until 1998 when they were transferred into Thorold Township following amalgamation with Regional Municipality of Niagara.