Traveling northwards from Strabane, the most famous landmark of the township is soon visible, the spire of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church in Freelton. The village is the final West Flamborough community on the Brock Road and has the unique distinction of being located close to where the three former townships of the Town of Flamborough, East and West Flamborough and Beverly, meet.
The village of Freelton received its name from Patrick Freel, a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, who came to the area during the 1840s and operated a tavern on the Brock Road. Recognizing the growing importance of the Brock Road as a link between the growing community of Guelph and the Head-of-the-Lake, Freel, who had first settled in Dundas, was a typical immigrant entrepreneur, looking for ways to benefit the decision to come to Canada. So, ever the businessman, he turned his attention to real estate, purchasing the triangular-shaped Lots 7 and 8 in Concession 9 of West Flamborough. Freelton was officially recognized as a village in 1856, three years after the 100-acre site had been laid out, with lots for sale and a number of streets named to commemorate the members of Freel’s family.
Strabane and Freelton were important stopping places on Brock Road, not only for the stage and mail coaches, but also for the teamsters and drovers on their way from Puslinch and the other townships of Wellington County to Dundas and Brown’s Wharf on the north shore of Burlington Bay. The two villages were the approximate halfway point of the journey and on many days of the year, 40-50 teams could be seen traveling from the north, with wagons loaded with grain and other farm produce to be shipped out by lake schooners. Freelton had blacksmith shops and hotels to serve the passing traffic. The oldest of the hotels was one reputedly built by John Morden in 1822 and known as the Upper Hotel.
After entering the village from the south, the Brock Road turned eastward to exit West Flamborough and join the former boundary or township line between East and West Flamborough that today is the major north-south road, Hwy. 6 North. For years this boundary had been little more than a country road, but the growing importance of the automobile during the first decade of the 20th century changed that completely. Beginning in the 1920s, with the opening of the Clappison Cut, Hwy. 6 soon became the preferred transportation route and the stories of wagons and carts on the Brock Road became a forgotten part of the township’s history.
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, 21 August 2009.
The Flamborough Archives will be closed on August 1 for the Civic Holiday. Enjoy!