From its earliest days and beginnings at Bullock’s Corners, until it exits the township at Freelton, the Brock Road has continuously served as a major routeway through West Flamborough. It was originally known as the Aboukir Road, to commemorate the victory of Viscount Horatio Nelson on 1 August 1798 against Napoleon at Aboukir Bay during the Battle of the Nile. Later, at the conclusion of the War of 1812, the road was renamed to acknowledge the services of Sir Isaac Brock as Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada and his death at Queenston Heights.
The road was nothing more than a trail through the bush during its early history, but by 1818 it had been cut to road width to accommodate wagons. When the Canada Company began selling lots in the Guelph Block on April 25, 1827, several West Flamborough Township residents recognized the business opportunities that would result if they could route new settlers through the township.
Eight citizens, including James Crooks, Joseph Webster and Titus G. Simons collected subscriptions to improve the road between Freelton and its connection to the Stone Road (present day Hwy. #8) down to Dundas. These men believed that the road would bring the benefits of trade to a number of small settlements that were beginning to be established in the township, as at its northern limit, the road joined one the Government and Canada Company had constructed through the Clergy Reserves in Puslinch and then Guelph.
By 1831, the road was regarded as passable, but with all the traditional problems associated with the changing seasons. Travelers, such as Dr. Thomas Rolph of Dundas, were not impressed and commented on the way the road had been built, noting the poor workmanship in its construction: ”…the horrible causewayed road, most clumsily put together and occasionally broken, renders the more circuitous route by Galt, far preferable.”
Although frequently in poor condition, the heavily traveled road became the route for settlers moving into the northern concessions of both East and West Flamborough townships – groups such as the main party of English settlers from Lincolnshire and the Midlands who arrived in the Mountsberg area between 1835 and 1838.
The introduction of tolls in 1840, when the Guelph and Dundas Road Company assumed responsibility for its upkeep, resulted in notable improvements; for a decade later the road was described as “gravelled and excellent.”
Sylvia Wray is the former archivist with the Flamborough Archives. She can be reached through the Archives at email@example.com.
This article was originally published in the Flamborough Review, 15 May 2009.