During the 19th century, when the Brock Road served as the only reliable township road northwards, several small settlements developed where it crossed the concession roads, each becoming stopping places for the stagecoach and its travellers. During this century, there were hotels at many of the corners and several in the larger communities of Bullock’s Corners and Freelton.
The establishment of Bullock’s Corners dates from 1837, when William Bullock opened the British Hotel tavern. The hotel quickly became the nucleus of the community, with a blacksmith’s shop and a general store in operation by 1840. At the height of stagecoach travel, there were five hotels and, according to one longtime resident writing about the village in 1950 “…as many as 40 horse-drawn vehicles at the old Bullock Hotel was not uncommon.” Between 1860 and 1875, there were as many as 11 taverns along the road. Some operated with licences but many did not and were in constant trouble with the law.
The opening of Hwy. #6 North during the 1920s and the change to motorized transportation resulted in the disappearance of the hotels and several of these crossroad communities.
Between Bullock’s Corners and Freelton, an interesting pattern of hotel and church construction developed, with the building of a hotel at one intersection followed by the building of a church at the next. While hotels were recognized as a necessity to provide food and shelter to travellers, they were also a source of deep concern due to the consumption of alcohol.
During the 1850s, the hamlet of Glenwood was established at the corner of the 4th Concession. The community boasted two Methodist congregations, each with its own church. The Wesleyan Methodists built a white frame building in 1855 that burnt to the ground in 1912. It was replaced a year later by a large brick church, so strongly supported that the driving sheds occupied three sides of the building and were filled to capacity with the horses and carriages of worshippers. A school, blacksmith’s shop, and a tollgate also existed at the corner, but only the small burial ground attached to the Methodist Episcopal Church remains today.
While churches may have been the center of life at the 4th Concession intersection, the hotels at Hayesland at the 5th Concession were the hub of the community. The first was established during the 1850s. In 1900, a tavern operated by Paddy Green also served as the Post Office and many of the area’s mail carriers and coaches stopped there to provide the mail service and enjoy Paddy’s jovial humour, lunches and wonderful refreshments. In later years, Paddy’s son, John, moved to Hamilton, where he too operated a hotel named after his father.
Sylvia Wray is the former archivist with the Flamborough Archives. She can be reached through the Archives at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally published in the Flamborough Review, 26 June 2009.