Glanbrook Heritage Society
From material in “Glanford Recollections and Reflections” by Sandy Smith
An illustrated Atlas of Wentworth County, published in 1875, describes Mount Hope as a “village of some considerable importance and the only village in the township.” Originally, it was known as Swazie’s Corners, after a Mr. Swazie (Swayze) who ran a hotel on the southwest corner of what is now Homestead Drive and Airport Road. When he left the area, it became known as Hines Corners, after Mr. H. Hines, one of the early Mount Hope settlers, who took over the hotel after Mr. Swazie's departure.
Soon after, probably in the 1850's, a meeting was held to choose a name for the “village.” At this meeting, John Renton, a Glanford pioneer, suggested “Mount Hope” and this name was accepted. “Mount” was chosen to indicate that it was the highest point between Lakes Erie and Ontario. There are two stories about the selection of “Hope.” The first was an indication of the hopes of temperance supporters that the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages would someday be prohibited. The second was that “Hope” was chosen because people hoped that settlers would arrive to make a larger, more prosperous village.
It was not until 1802 that the first grants of land were made by the Crown in the Mount Hope area. These original patents seem to have been made as political rewards to people who had little or no interest in developing the land. A few years later, about 1810, the first settlers came, some twenty years after the first pioneer, Jacob Smith, had arrived in Glanford.
The records in the Hamilton Registry Office show that, in 1802, John Marsh was granted Lot 5, Con. 5, on the south side of Airport Road at the junction of Homestead Drive. In 1803, John Dawson was granted Lot 5, Con. 4, directly across Airport Road from the Marsh holdings.
The dividing line between Lots 5 and 6 was the old Port Dover Road, now Hwy. 6. When the original trail was blazed, a poorly drained, marshy area was encountered in what is now Mount Hope. To avoid this area, the trail was re-routed to the west through the village and subsequent roads have followed this trail. The first deeds still show the original road right of way running straight through Mount Hope, at the east end of the Glanford Curling Club. The land involved has since been included in the respective deeds of the properties on the east side of Homestead Drive. For this reason, most of the properties in the village are in Lot 5, Con. 4 and 5.
In 1803, Bela Hibbard Sr., whose wife, Martha, was the daughter of Jacob Smith, purchased the Dawson holdings on the north side of Airport Road. After his father’s death at an early age, Bela Hibbard Jr. inherited the property and in 1837, sold it to his mother, who was then remarried to Mr. J. Frazier. In 1845, James Miracle obtained most of the frontage on both sides of Homestead Drive from Frazier for a yoke of oxen. He divided it into quarter-acre lots and sold them for $100 each. The name Miracle appears in different spellings on the original documents. Its variants are Maracle, Maricle and Miracle, with Miracle being used in this text.
The Marsh holdings on the south side of the road followed the same pattern. Little development took place until 1870, when Joel Smith purchased 32 acres on the south side of Airport Road from John Patterson. W. L. Smith obtained 40 acres immediately to the south of this from Walter Fink in 1868.
Because of its location in the centre of Glanford Township, and on the well-travelled Port Dover Road, the growth in Mount Hope was steady and its people prosperous. As the road progressed from a blazed trail to a mud road, a corduroy road and the Old Plank Road, the settlement grew increasingly larger. Other contributing factors were the needs of sons and daughters for land, or a place to ply their trade, and an influx of immigrants from the British Isles, who had left their homeland because of difficult times and crop failures. Long before the turn of the century, Mount Hope had three blacksmith shops, two hotels, three butchers, two wagon-makers, a shoemaker, two carriage-makers and an undertaker. All thrived because of the lumbering in the area, the local farmers and the travellers on the Port Dover Road.
By 1841, the population in the township had increased to over 1,000, and by 1850, some formal government was urgently required. A group of responsible citizens met that year and arranged for the election of the first reeve and council for Glanford. While Mount Hope was considered the official township seat, the council met in the Terryberry Inn, two miles north of the village, paying $6 a year for this privilege. In 1890, the council chambers were moved to the Orange Hall in Mount Hope, where the rent was increased to $7.50 per year.
The turn of the century brought many changes to Mount Hope that altered the character of the community and improved the quality of life. The Western Ontario telephone directory of 1899 listed a toll office in Mount Hope, located in Mr. D. G. Case's store. This was apparently similar to a telegraph office where Mr. Case received and sent messages for local residents. Some twenty years later, a full telephone service was provided by Bell Canada, with the exchange located at Hannon. The first operator was Mr. Daniel Ecker, followed by Mr. Leonard White, who owned the village gristmill prior to taking over the exchange.
About the same time, Ontario Hydro extended their overhead lines to Mount Hope, providing electricity to the area. This was probably the most welcome advance in the village’s history. It provided lighting and power for shops and farms, dependable radio reception and modern appliances.
The advent of the automobile saw the closing of the blacksmith's shop and the opening of garages and filling stations. The opportunity of more extensive travel broadened the experience of rural people and tended to reduce the distinction between rural and urban residents. In spite of this considerable progress, Mount Hope remained a peaceful, pastoral village until World War II, when the vast Commonwealth air training centre was built. This set off a transformation that has continued ever since, destroying somewhat the great community spirit and rural atmosphere that had always existed.
Airport expansion and new subdivisions in the latter part of the twentieth century have added to the increased size of the village with different commercial and light industrial businesses being built along Hwy 6, Airport Road and Homestead Drive.
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© Glanbrook Heritage Society 2007
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