A very well-meaning and polite lady approached me several weeks ago and complimented me for my articles in ‘Tackaberry Times’, chronicling the history and characters who formed, melded and through force of belief in both themselves and their new country transformed a virtual wilderness into the area we now accept - at times even take for granted - as North Halton and of course, Canada.

"You make it interesting," she offered. "But everyone knows, Canadian history is boring!"

I begged to differ, but as with her, in a polite way. Suffering in silence, I wondered that if perhaps instead of watching American brain-candy productions on television and investing some time in Canadian historical productions she might come to realize that the birth and growth of Canada need not take a back seat to any country.

Cultural diversity has been a boon to Canada as a whole, and Ontario in particular.

In a word, we are all immigrants, one and all - ‘a mare usqua ad mare’- from sea to shining sea. Yet amazingly, we work well together and survive the occasional blips and stumbles.

People from the same cultural background tend to group together when the unknown looms. Sociologists and anthropologists have long documented this tendency. And it happened in Canada’s tentative years. It happens today! But eventually, the fear of the cultural stranger subsides and when the realization sets in that the good of the whole is worth much more than a certain set of stereotypical cultural parts, true nation building can begin. Canada is still working towards that goal.

Halton Region and even Halton Hills provides a case in point, peopled mainly by immigrants of British stock, Scots, English and Irish. The southern area of Halton, settled mainly by United Empire Loyalists, takes its name from a British army officer, Major William Mathew Halton. Major Halton reportedly spent little time in Canada, but somehow gained the position of Provincial Agent for Upper Canada, while based in England. The northern area was settled by immigrants direct from Britain, many of whom were recruited by John Galt and the now questionably corrupt, Canada Company. Full municipal and judicial powers were not granted to Halton until 1855.

A look at culture clusters in Halton Hills shows the predominant influence of those from Great Britain, in particular, those of Scottish descent.

The ‘Scotch Block’ (originally termed the ‘Scottish Settlement’) is generally recognized as encompassing Steeles Avenue to 17 Sideroad and from the Town Line between Nassagaweya and Esquesing to the Centre Line between the 5th and 6th Concession Lines.

The vagaries and meanderings of surveyors in the formative years of Canada is legend. Many received land grants in payment for their services. Then sold off prime real estate and went happily on their way.

Richard Bristol and Timothy Street are the recorded surveyors of this area and were the first to receive Crown Deeds. Bristol was given Lot 2, Conc. 4 and Street received Lot 12, Conc. 7. Neither settled their land.

Bristol has been lost in the mists of history, while Street wandered eastward, built a gristmill and is recognized as the founder of Streetsville.

The land had been purchased by the British government from an Ojibwa band of native Canadians, Mississauga to accommodate those termed, ‘United Empire Loyalists’, who had trekked north, disdaining the excited – and inciting – much ballyhooed and eventually over-produced ‘American War of Independence’, from 1775-1783 and the Canadian - American skirmishes of the 1812-1814 confrontation.

The ferocious ‘Highland Clearances’ carried out by Scottish lairds and their country cousins the English Lords, allowed that sheep were preferable to people in prime Scottish Highland country. This combined with the suffocating class system in Britain (and Scotland) – which virtually forbade those from the lower and lower middle class from owning land – pried open the valve for the flow of immigrants to North America.

Who settled first in Scotch Block is open to both speculation and naturally, familial pride. However, according to the ‘History of the Province of Ontario’ the first two settlers are recognized as James Hume and Ronald Macdonald, circa 1818.

Other families followed. The Hunters, Cummers, McGowans, Kays, Camerons, Broadys and Hardys. By 1822, this list included Robertsons, Pattersons, NacNabbs, Fishers, Laidlaws, Murrays, Hendersons, Chisholms, Darlings, Elliots, Stewarts and Shortreeds. Many of these names can still be found in the local phone book and on much the same land.

Religious belief also fortified the early settlers against the rigors and challenges of a new country and the Scotch Block settlers brought their Presbyterian beliefs with them.

The first recorded church service was held on a Sunday in June of 1820, on the farm of Andrew Laidlaw, Lot 6, Conc. 4 and presided over by the Rev. William Jenkins, who traveled from Markham to conduct the service.

Church meetings were held in various venues, but a permanent structure was obviously required. Land was purchased from Andrew Laidlaw in 1824 (on the west end of Lot 7, Conc. 4) and although the rough structure wasn’t completed until 1835, the Boston Church serves as a historical landmark in Halton history.

The Presbyterian belief spread to Georgetown, where congregations regularly met in the Town Hall or the Congregational and Wesleyan Churches. The first Presbyterian Church in Georgetown was built in 1867.

Politics – or certain political beliefs – as well as religion, was also curdling through the Scotch Block.

The Family Compact, a collusion of basically corrupt and money hungry politicians and businessmen, was sucking the lifeblood out of the new-country. The new ideas conscious immigrants wanted nothing more than a piece of property, to work, plow, hew and call their own.

The Canadian 1837 Rebellion, led by William Lyon Mackenzie against the, at the time Canadian ‘Establishment’ ended in disaster for most of the participants. But it did lead to more proper and civil governance in Canada.

John Stewart, who settled in 1819, on Lot 9, Conc. 3 in Esquesing, in the Scotch Block area, was very much apart of the ‘Rebellion’ and a supporter of Mackenzie.

It is reported that Mackenzie arrived at Stewart’s farm in Scotch Block (now Craiglea Guest Home) in 1837 and roused the people to join his Reform Party (chuckle-chuckle) to protest against the intolerance and subjugation of the new people of a new nation.

Stewart raised a militia of roughly 60 men to journey to Little York (now Toronto) to join Mackenzie’s uprising. By the time the group arrived at what we now recognize as Chinguacousy, only five were still in the game.

Stewart and countless others involved in this uprising were arrested and imprisoned. Some were executed. But the indomitable Stewart, and 13 others, escaped from Fort Henry in Kingston and fled to the United States.

Stewart was eventually allowed to return to Canada, only to find his property a virtually neglected wasteland due to his wastrel son, also named John. He sold his property to Thomas Hagyard and returned to Paisley, Scotland, now a suburb of Glasgow, where he died in 1899.

The Scotch Block, although not designated graphically or even demographically, still exists in Halton Hills.

The once threatened visage of impenetrable forest has given way to a montage of forest, farmland and people friendly come-as-you-are, pick-as-you-will open arms back to earth enterprises.

Development has been in a word, discouraged. John Stewart must be smiling.

Journeying through the Scotch Block area you are able to idle past Williams Apple Orchard, Barrow’s Apple Orchard, Merrybrook Farm and McPhail Farm as well as Hume’s Farm Auction, on the 4th Line.

Sure to be a highlight on your journey would be a visit to Andrews Scenic Acres.

Bert and his wife Lauraine purchased a 100-acre farm in the Scotch Block area in 1980. This pick-your-own basically berry farm has since grown in leaps and bounds.

From a ‘run down’ farm, as described by Bert, the property has developed into an enterprise that not only encourages visits from schools but is also recognized as an important and enlightening educational tool in broadening the perspective of the oft too computerized frizzed out youth of today.

But lets leap back a ‘wee bit’, as the Scots would say.

Gordon Hume, 82 still living in Scotch Block can perhaps guide us.

Although James Hume was recognized as one of the earlier settlers of the Scotch Block, there was another Hume, George, who also settled there. According to Gordon, "Nobody could figure out if they were brothers or cousins". Regardless, the Humes’ were one of the earliest settlers in the area.

And why, according to Gordon, "As I was told, it was because of the sheep! You couldn’t own any land in Scotland, you could only be tenant farmers!"

Gordon was born in 1918 in a house on 10th Sideroad, in Scotch Block. He met his wife Doreen, at a Junior Farmers dance in Huttonville. His wife Doreen, recently passed away but Gordon still shares his subdivided property with his daughter Marleen and son George.

Times are changing and Mr. Hume is very aware of what is happening. "Yes" he says, there is still Scottish influence in the Block area. "But like the rest of Canada, things are changing and you are getting a diversity of life and culture. Yet having said that, I’ve enjoyed very much so, the best neighbors in the world."

Scots wa’ hae! Canadian history is not boring.