North of 11th Concession Road in East Flamborough Township, the land rises quickly and changes to a landscape of rolling hills and valleys that were carved by a glacier as it cut a gap in the Niagara Escarpment between Rattlesnake Point and Mount Nemo.
As a result, stony debris of all sizes was scattered far and wide across the ground that the early settlers to this area of the township found difficult to clear and even harder to cultivate. So even today, much of the lower lands remains in woodlots and as pasture land and the only settlement to be established was the small cross-roads community of Mountsberg, located on Centre Road at Mountsberg Road.
The small community that gradually evolved around this intersection and along the 12th Concession was largely populated by early English immigrants, and so early references in documents and newspaper articles record the name as the ‘English Settlement.’
Beginning in the 1830s, several settlers from Lincolnshire and the Midlands had come to the area, including the families of Johnson, Revel, Hewins, Page, Wingrove and Mount.
Of all the early families who came to this northern part of the township, the Irish from County Monaghan, County Cork and County Kerry who settled mainly along the 11th Concession and the Scots who settled on the 13th Concession, it is to the English group in particular that much of Mountsberg’s heritage is due. As founders of the two village churches, they donated property and organized the “bees” for the construction of buildings, which ultimately drew other settlers to the area.
About 1850, Matthew Mount, son of first generation immigrants, Josiah Mount and Mary Page, built a blacksmith and carriage shop on the south-east corner of the intersection. Shoeing horses was only a part of the business, as he also made almost every small implement used on area farms, from square-headed nails to ploughshares and serviced the coach trade that travelled the Centre Road between Guelph and Waterdown. The success of his business resulted a decade later in James Paine building a general store next to the blacksmith shop.
When the little settlement received its own Post Office in 1864, the name of the village was recognized as Mountsberg, commemorating one of the pioneer families who had come to the northern concessions and successfully established themselves.
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, 6 May 2010.