Scotch Block, Ontario
Looking south on Highway 25 in Scotch Block
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Sixteen Mile Creek flows through the settlement, and the present-day Scotch Block Dam and Reservoir is located there. Scotch Block is located on the Niagara Escarpment, and a portion of the Bruce Trail passes through it.
James and John Stewart, early settlers from Perth, Scotland, made a request to the government in 1819 for a Scottish settlement in Esquesing Township. That same year, James McNab, a land promoter living in Toronto Township, petitioned to bring 30 families of Scottish origin to Ontario from the economically depressed towns of Barnet and Ryegate in the US state of Vermont. Both towns had been founded by a group-migration from Scotland in the late 1700s, and many then migrated to the Scotch Block area. Other Scotch Block settlers arrived directly from Scotland, the majority from the Perthshire and Roxburghshire regions. Another Scottish family, the Laidlaws, moved first to Nova Scotia, and then to Scotch Block.
The settlement was at first referred to as "The Scotch Settlement" and "The Settlement", but eventually became known as "The Scotch Block". It was the most ethnically homogeneous region in the county, its first settlers "Scotch almost without exception".:16
An early settler, James Laidlaw, described The Scotch Block in a letter to his cousin in Scotland in 1819:
We are mostly all Scotchmen and have got a township to be all together, or what is called a parish in Scotland. They give 60,000 acres for one Township. There are a great many people settling here. Government has bought a large tract of Country from the Indians last year. One end of it was about twelve miles from York and very good land so that people are all going on it, it being so near the capital of the Province... The money here with merchants and people and trade is as plenty as ever I saw it in any town in Scotland. There is a market here every day for veal and mutton, and people come in from the County with butter and cheese and eggs, potatoes, onions and carrots and melons, squashes and pumpkins with many things unknown in Scotland. The people here speak very good English. There is many of our Scotch words they cannot understand. They live more independent than King George, for if they have been any time here and got a few acres of their farm cleared, they have all plenty to live upon and what they have to sell they get always money for it for bringing it to York. There is a good road goes straight north from York into the County for Fifty miles, and the farm houses almost all two storeys high. Some of them will have as good as twelve cows and four or five horses. They are growing very rich, for they pay no taxes, but just a perfect trifle, and ride in their gig or chaise like lords.:127-129
The Presbyterian Church
Beginning in 1820, church services were held at James Laidlaw's farm, and were led by various itinerant Presbyterian ministers.
In 1824, a meeting house (church), school and cemetery were built in the southeast portion of Scotch Block.
The Stewarts' request for the establishment of Scotch Block in 1819 had described that the settlement would "support a regular bred Clergyman of their Persuasion and who understand their language". When it proved difficult to attract a permanent church minister, the Scotch Block residents petitioned the government for assistance, writing [sic]:
Their Sabbaths are silent, and in danger of being forgotton - The sound of the gospel very seldom reaches their ears - But, in a land of Strangers, they are wandering like shiip, without a Sheephard, and their rising generation are in danger of sinking into a state of barborous ignorance.
A permanent minister settled in Scotch Block in 1832.
The meeting house was renamed Boston Presbyterian Church in 1844, in honour of Thomas Boston, a Scottish church leader. The area near the church eventually became a distinct community known as Boston. That same year, Peter Scott built the first brick house in Scotch Block.
The first doctor was Christopher Russell, who settled in Scotch Block in 1833 and married John Stewart's daughter. They remained there until 1841.
Mail delivery on horseback began in 1836, and occurred twice weekly.
In 1837, John Stewart participated in the Upper Canada Rebellion and was sentenced to transportation. Initially confined to prison at Fort Henry, Ontario, he escaped and fled to the United States, and was later pardoned.
In 1971, the Scotch Block Dam and Reservoir opened to control water levels on Sixteen Mile Creek.
Heritage properties in Scotch Block recognized by the Town of Halton Hills include:
- Chisholm Family Farm House. The Chisholm's were a prominent local family.
- Land Acres, a home owned by the Sproat Family from 1870 until 1949.
- Towercliffe House, built by the Bates family, who operated a Stone Quarry.
- "Scotch Block". Natural Resources Canada. October 6, 2016.
- McColl, John (1920). Records and Memories of Boston Church in the "Scotch Block", Esquesing Township, County of Halton, Ontario, Canada, 1820-1920. pp. 13–17, 128, 129.
- "Scotch Block Reservoir". Natural Resources Canada. October 6, 2016.
- "Staff Summary Position Report" (PDF). Niagara Escarpment Commission. April 21, 2011.
- "Proposed Niagara Escarpment Plan Amendment" (PDF). Town of Halton Hills. July 15, 2010.
- Cannon, Geoffrey; Connolly, Eric; Ruggle, Richard (January 1995). "Boston Presbyterian Church" (PDF). Heritage Halton Hills.
- Thomson, S. (April 29, 1986). "Notice of Intention to Designate 'Craiglea House'" (PDF). Town of Halton Hills.
- Lindsey, Charles (1862). The Life and Times of Wm. Lyon Mackenzie. II. Toronto: P.R. Randall. p. 380.
- As provided under An Act to enable the Government of this Province to extend a conditional Pardon, in certain cases, to persons who have been concerned in the late Insurrection, S.U.C. 1837-38, c. 10
- "Scotch Block". Library and Archives Canada. May 27, 2014.
- "Our History". Conservation Halton. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
- "About Scotch Block". Scotch Block Winery. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
- "Heritage Register - Listed Cultural Heritage Properties" (PDF). Town of Halton Hills. July 2, 2015.