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 Historic sites are valuable parts of our heritage. They represent tangible and direct links to our past and, as such, need to be recognised and cared for by our society. Churches, cemeteries, schoolhouses, barns, farmhouses and mills are eloquent testimony to religious beliefs, education, farming practices, social organisation and of the values held by the inhabitants at different times. These historic landmarks are often endangered by developers, gravel pits, vandals, lack of funds and general neglect; and always by the passage of time.

This is why we have created a page on the West Bolton website, to alert residents and visitors of the existence and value of these signposts to our past. Contributors to this page include: Thor Arnason, Robert Chartier, Nancy Dixon, John Fowles, Kathy LePoer, Arthur Mizener and Heather Tuer. We form a sub-committee of the Cemetery Committee of the Missisquoi Historical Society.


Several clapboard churches were built in West Bolton during the 19th century. None was built of stone or brick, except for some foundations, wood being plentiful in the countryside. The simple neo-gothic architecture and building methods came with the immigrants from the states of New England. This explains why the small white churches of West Bolton, although less grand and ornate, are reminiscent of those of New England,

These little churches initially served several purposes, principally as the religious centre of the community and as meeting houses. When the English Canadians talked of a ‘meeting’, the French mistook the sound for ‘mitten’. Consequently they called the churches ‘mittens’.

Some of these churches had windows and doors designed with a pointed gothic arch (St. Andrew’s). The building may have had a steep, neo-gothic gable roof surmounted by a saddleback tower and open belfry topped with a spire (Creek and St. Michael’s Churches). The interior was generally heated with a wood stove.

Figure 2. St. Andrew’s Church. Note the neo-gothic pointed arched window and motif over the door and tower window.

The Creek Church

Religious services in the Creek area were conducted in the local schoolhouse until 1878 when this white, clapboard church was built after the style of a Baptist meeting house. The land for the church was purchased by the trustees and the surrounding community helped in its construction. Enclosed stables were added at the back because travel in those days was by horse and trap or sleigh. In winter, the blankets and ‘buffaloes’ which kept the passengers warm on the journey to church were thrown over the horses to keep them comfortable during the service.

Memorial donations over the years included the pulpit, communion table, the electric organ and the baptismal font. The bell came from the closed Methodist Church in West Shefford in 1928. The building has undergone major renovations three times during the 20th century, including reversal of the original floorplan in 1903. The congregation was initially Baptist. It later changed to Methodist and is now affiliated with the United Church. Women have played a prominent role in the life of the church since its inception, including starting a Sunday School which is still active.

When Stanley Quilliams was a baby his mother would leave him on the front pew while she played the organ for the service and the choir. One day the sleeping baby went unnoticed as everyone left for home, including his mother! Imagine how she must have felt when she realised her mistake.

This wooden country church is still active today and has a vibrant congregation. Its members carry on the traditions of fellowship and faithful allegiance to their church begun so many years before by their ancestors

St. Andrew’s Church

This little church started life as a wooden schoolhouse. It was built for the Fuller children in the mid-nineteenth century. It stood on family land near Fuller Road. In 1917 the community came together to convert the schoolhouse into an Anglican church. Many people in the community played an important role in making this dream a reality.

Mr. George Pibus and colleagues brought the building down in 1914 to where it stands now, on the old road from Montreal to Magog. They did it in the winter with horses and skids. To convert the schoolhouse into a neo-gothic style church required the addition of pointed arch windows, a belfry tower with a steeple and a small vestry behind the building (Figs 2 and 4). There is a plaque in the church that honours Mr. George Houldsworth who operated a saw mill on the west side of Sally’s Pond. He donated the lumber as well as the stained glass windows.

The chair and alter cross were gifts from Dr. and Mrs. Henry Blunt. The church bell was cast in Troy, New York in 1850 by the Minely Bell factory. It was originally installed in St. Luke’s church in Waterloo. Later the bell was moved to St. Paul’s church in Knowlton and finally came to St. Andrew’s in 1924.

Figure 3. The Creek Church and congregation. 2016

Figure 4. St. Andrew’s in the Pass – a sunny day. Note the vestry and bell tower with steeple added in 1917 and neo-gothic style windows and door.

The first wedding (a double) took place on November 5, 1918 when Martha Pibus wed John Paterson and her sister Grace married Fred Arthur. Due to the exodus of people leaving the small community the last church service took place in the early 1970s. The church stood empty for many years. In 1980 the Rogerson family refurbished the building in memory of their mother Carol.

In 1993, the diocese of Montreal was selling many rural churches. St. Andrew’s was deconsecrated by Bishop Hutchinson and the Rev. Keith Joyce. The following year, over fears of the building being moved out of the area, George Rogerson, erstwhile mayor of West Bolton, led a group of concerned citizens which bought it. George persuaded the Council to declare it a Heritage Building, thus giving it legal protection.

The group formed a committee to maintain this historical landmark in West Bolton. The building was made available for meetings and other functions and indeed three weddings have been held there since then. The picturesque little church in the Pass, one of the most painted and photographed sites in the area, now belongs to the farmer on whose land it stands,

St. Michael’s and All Angels Church.

The Glen was a small village in the Township of Bolton. In 1820 Stephen and Jeremiah Mooney built two stone houses in the area which are still occupied. The area acquired a Post Office, a box factory and a water powered lumber mill. Church of England services were held in the Mooney schoolhouse which dates from 1860. Not far away was the Brill Methodist Church.

St. Michael’s and All Angels Church was built in 1895 on land donated by Nancy Mooney. Estella Mooney and George Houldsworth raised the funds for its construction. The wooden building materials came from Albert Hall’s farm. Other people in the community helped in any way they could. Judge Foster donated the bell and the Bible, Frank Stanbridge made the lectern and Malcolm Ross carved the alter and the alter rail. Many other objects have been donated in memoriam since then.

Stanley Horne’s parents were married in the church between the two world wars. He said that, when he was young, the church was an essential part of life in the Glen.

Figure 5. St. Michael’s and All Angels Church. Note the charming neo-gothic architecture.

Villagers paid part of the vicar’s salary in kind, e.g. vegetables, fruits and eggs, because most of them were farmers and that is what they could afford. He remembers harvest services when the church was decorated with farm produce back when all of the Glen was farmed land.

After regular services ceased in the 1980s, Horne’s aunt Edna Badger organised hymn-sings in the church until she died. “It was lovely to hear music in the church,” said Horne. He was sad that the deconsecrated building lay silent and deteriorating.

The future of the building, however, is bright. It was recently declared an Historic Site by the West Bolton Town Council and is now owned by Jack and Jane Walker. They are repairing and restoring the building and plan to use it for community events such as concerts, weddings, art classes, exhibitions – the list seems endless. Walker feels that the success of this venture will depend on how much the local community shares this vision and is willing to help. The Walkers hope to save one of the last vestiges of pioneer history in the Glen and preserve it for the enjoyment of future generations.

Figure 6. Original Brill Church. 1918


Brill Church

John Brill, an active Methodist and a militia captain from New York, Jonathon Duboyce of Rhode Island and David Blunt from Vermont all immigrated to West Bolton in the early 19th century and settled in the same region. During the War of 1812, Mr. Blunt kept a house of entertainment for travellers. Smugglers always stayed with him on their way to Montreal.

The three immigrants attended regular Methodist Society meetings which were held in Brill’s house. It wasn’t until 1881, however, that mention of building a church was made. That year the neighbourhood women decided to raise funds for the church. They organised a tea party and the 200 attendees raised $66.

The site for the new church was chosen for its easy access to several different neighbourhoods and the local community made the project a reality. Farmers’ horses pulled granite blocks from nearby quarries for the foundations and the timber came from the McLaughlin homestead. Many local people used their skills to build the church and Harrison McClary constructed the tall belfry and steeple. He was told, mistakenly as it turned out, that his handiwork would not stand up.

As with other churches in the area, many gifts were made to the church in memoriam, including three beautiful pulpit chairs and an alter table from the McLaughlin family in memory of Reuben and Jennie McLaughlin. The first congregation at the Brill church probably numbered over 100 men, women and children.

In 1941 the church was hit by lightning and burned to the ground, McClary’s steeple falling last. Most of the furnishings, however, were saved including the windows, organ and pews. These were placed in the new church which was built on the same site. In 1964 the congregation dwindled to the point where it could no longer support the Brill United Church. This was deconsecrated and became the West Bolton Municipal Office. It is now a private home and remains a testament to those who faithfully built it and maintained it for so many years.


Figure 7. Rebuilt Brill Church, now a private residence.

Figure 8. Congregation of Brill Church. 1918


West Bolton had nine rural schoolhouses in the late 19th century, one for every locality. The children had to walk to and from school, so the schools needed to be close to home, especially in the winter. The wooden schoolhouses were built and furnished by the community. Each schoolhouse generally consisted of one room with an unadorned, white clapboard exterior. The building and its furniture were very functional – if it didn’t assist teaching or learning, it simply wasn’t there. The school was usually heated with a wood stove which also heated the frozen ink stands in the winter.

The teachers were usually women because the men were off working on the farms. Young schoolboys were given time off from school to help on the farms during the busy seasons of spring and at harvest time. They usually left school at about the age of 14 to become farm hands. The girls often stayed in school two or three years longer.

Figure 10. Schoolchildren in front of the Brill schoolhouse. The teacher is Ella Taylor, Nancy Dixon’s grandmother. 1918
Figure 9. West Bolton Town Hall is a converted schoolhouse. Photo Tony Rotherham 2017

Many of these schoolhouses were active as late as the 1950s. At that time, with the advent of centralised education and bus transport for children, the rural one-room schoolhouse became a quaint reminder of the recent past. A visitor at the Tour des Arts remembered being taught, as a young boy, in the one room stone schoolhouse on Tibbets Hill, in Knowlton. Winnie Pibus spent one year as a student in the local schoolhouse and her father and uncles were all educated in a nearby one room clapboard school. Nancy Dixon’s mother and grandmother taught in the local schoolhouses.

Figure 9. West Bolton Town Hall is a converted schoolhouse. Photo Tony Rotherham 2017

Figure 10. Schoolchildren in front of the Brill schoolhouse. The teacher is Ella Taylor, Nancy Dixon’s grandmother. 1918

Sources : 

  • Société historique du comté de Brome
  • Tony Rotherham
  • Jack Walker
  • The Wallings Map 1867
  • History of Brome County, Quebec
  • Beldon & Co. Historical Atlas, 1881



  • Phyllis Hamilton. With Heart & Hands & Voices.
  • The Tempo, John Griffin.
  • Matthew Farfan, Cemetery Heritage in Quebec; A Handbook. 2008
  • Louise Abbott and Niels Jensen: The Heart of the Farm. 2008
  • Gerald Potterton. Communication personnelle
  • Margaret Badger. Communication personnelle


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