History
 

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History

After the United States won their war for Independence from the British Empire and became a sovereign nation in 1776, those who had remained loyal to King George III of England did not feel welcome to remain as part of that nation. In appreciation for their loyalty, the King granted these men land in parts of Ontario, the Atlantic provinces and the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Thus were born the American Loyalists, some of this area’s first settlers. Many of West Bolton’s earliest families are of loyalist descent, and were some of the first families to settle the Townships. One of the pioneers of this area, Elkanah Phelps, a loyalist, came to Canada in 1807and is buried in the Hillhouse Cemetery in West Bolton.

Originally a small part of the Township of Bolton, (as early as 1797), West Bolton itself did not come into being until 1876. It is a large municipality, approximately 4 miles from east to west and 10 miles long from north to south. West Bolton’s early families made their living from the land and even the Glen Valley was primarily pastureland for dairy cattle at the end of the 19th century. There are photographs in the Brome County Historical Society archives from this period that show very few trees and fields of grazing cattle at the foot of Glen Mountain. There was also a small cheese factory, butter factory, sawmills, a telegraph and post office. There were several “one-room schoolhouses” in West Bolton, including one on Brill Road (now a private residence), one on Stagecoach Road, one in the Glen facing the north end of Cousens Road (also a private residence), and one on Bolton Pass Road near Fuller. There was also the Duboyce School on Town Hall Road which now houses the offices for the municipality and is where the council meetings are held.
Things were very different before the advent of the automobile. It used to be the responsibility of property owners to do the maintenance on the roads bordering their properties. This included winter maintenance. The idea back then was to stay on top of the snow, not remove it. This was accomplished by the use of horse-drawn rollers made of wood or steel. They were used lie a steamroller and compressed the snow so that sleighs would then ride on top. It was considered common courtesy to roll the driveways of your neighbors.

Most of these early farms were self-supporting. There was no telephone or electricity, no cars or tractors. The main source of income was from the sale of cow’s milk. Hogs, poultry and sheep were kept primarily for family use with horses kept for transportation and to power farm equipment. Man-power and horse-power were both needed to run the family farm.

Today, West Bolton still contains a few working farms, full-time residents who work outside the home and weekend homes for those who desire to live in this bucolic setting. We are farmers, labourers, artists, professionals and retirees. We have one thing in common with the first Loyalist settlers; we both call this place home and should all be grateful to those who came before and preserved this beauty for us all to enjoy.

 
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