After the United States won its war of independence against the British Empire and became a sovereign country in 1776, those who remained loyal to King George III did not feel welcome to remain there. To thank them for their loyalty, the Crown granted them land in regions of Ontario, the Maritime provinces and the Eastern Townships in Quebec.
Thus these immigrants were named Loyalists and became among the first colonizers of the region. Several of the first families in West Bolton were of Loyalist origin and were among the first to colonize the Eastern Townships. One of these pioneers was a loyalist, Elkanah Phelps. He settled in Canada in 1807 and is buried in Hillhouse Cemetery in West Bolton.
Originally a small portion of the Canton of Bolton (from 1797), Bolton-Ouest became a municipality in 1876. It is a municipality which occupies a large area, approximately 4 miles from east to west and 10 miles from north to south. The first families of West Bolton made their living from the land, and the Glen Valley was mainly made up of pasture for dairy cows in the late 19th century. Photos from this period, showing few trees and especially pastures at the foot of Mount Glen, are kept in the Archives of the Brome County Historical Society.
There were also several range schools in Bolton-Ouest including one on Brill Road (now a private residence), one on Stagecoach Road, one on Glen Road at the intersection of Cousens Road (also now a private residence) and one on Bolton Pass Road, near Fuller Road. There was also Duboyce School on Town Hall Road where the town hall is now located and where town council meetings are held.
Life was very different before the arrival of the automobile. Thus, it was the responsibility of the owners whose property bordered a road to maintain it … even in winter! The concept of winter maintenance at the time was that we did not remove the snow, we packed it by crushing it.
This was done using rollers, of wood or steel, pulled by horses. These rollers were used as road rollers that tapped the snow, allowing the sleds to slide on the path. It was good practice to compress the neighbors’ entrance.
Most of these early farms were self-sufficient. There was no electricity, no telephone, no cars, no tractors. The main source of income came from the sale of cow’s milk. Pigs, poultry, and sheep were used for family consumption while horses were used for transportation or to provide energy for farm equipment. Both human and horse energy were required to run a family farm.
Today Bolton-Ouest is made up of a few farms still in operation, full-time residents who work outside the home and seasonal residents who wish to live in a pastoral environment. We are farmers, workers, artists, professionals, and retirees. We have one thing in common with the first loyalist settlers, here it is with us and we must thank those who lived there before us for having kept this beauty so that we can all enjoy it.