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Carlisle and Progreston

Ontario, Canada

Historical Introduction to Carlisle
Carlisle: History of Village and Founder John Eaton
Carlisle United Church

Photograph: Progreston Mill
George Wyatt Eaton
Map of Flamboro East

In the early days most of the land surrounding Carlisle was bush, a great deal of which was pine. The early settlers cleared a few acres and built log houses and small barns to shelter their oxen and cows. Wood was cut for fuel; tallow candles were used for lighting, and often a stone oven was built outside for baking bread. At first there were only trails cut through the bush, but as more settlers moved in they built corduroy roads. The first settlers depended entirely on the rivers and streams for water; thus the first sites chosen were close to streams. Among the very early settlers in the Carlisle area were the Fords, Eaton's, Pattons, Kievels, Hamiltons, McColls, Crookers, Gunbys, Mordens, Adamsons, Binkleys, Hunts, Greens, Mills and Bennetts. John and Catherine Eaton moved from Stoney Creek in 1826 and settled on 400 acres of crown land. As other settlers came a small village grew up and was named Eaton. In 1853 the name was changed to Carlisle. In 1870 there were 150 inhabitants.

The first regular church services were held in the Eaton home. The first church was built in 1829 and was called the "Chapel on the Twelve". In the early days there were many different denominations that do not exist in these parts today. For instance, there were Methodists and Anglicans in Carlisle, Disciples in Progreston, Methodists on the 10th concession east, at Harper's Corners and Carmel (this church was later moved to Freelton), and Bethel just across the town line in Halton. Now, in all that territory there is only one church -- the Carlisle United Church which was first built as a Methodist Church in 1852. In the early days the men sat on one side of the church and the ladies on the other side. The hymns were started by a precentor using a tuning fork. John Forstner was choir leader in 1870 for one year when the first organ was installed, after which James Adamson held that position for many years. Esther Binkley was the first organist. In 1870 the Sunday School was organized with James Vance as superintendent. The church was lit for many years with tallow candles. These were replaced by coal oil lamps, and electricity was installed in 1920. The present brick church was built in 1891.

There was at one time on the 9th concession east of Carlisle an Anglican Church with an adjoining cemetery on the hill. Only the cemetery remains today. The first Methodist parsonage was built in Carlisle in 1875 and is still a grand landmark. The new United Church parsonage was built in 1953.

For many years Carlisle United Church held a July 1st celebration which included two special church services on Sunday with visiting ministers in the pulpit and special music. On the following day a "Monster Garden Party" was held in the Church Park with a band and baseball games in the afternoon. A supper booth and refreshment booth were both well patronized, and in the evening an open air program was given by a group of entertainers. This was attended by people from all the surrounding communities, and these garden parties were continued until a few years ago and will be revived this Centennial Year.

There are two public schools in the locality: Victoria School on the 8th concession and Balaclava on the 10th concession. In 1865 Victoria School was located on the extreme north corner of the school grounds, and the teacher was John Calder. In 1868 a new school was built, and in 1872 a two storey brick school was built with Marshall Rymal first teacher of the senior room and Georgina Sutton teacher of the juniors. In 1922 ** a two room modern school was built. The school today has six rooms.

Balaclava School was built in 1873 on the corner of the 10th concession and Centre Road. On October 19, 1873, this school was burned, and a new stone school was built and completed by December. In 1878 a well was drilled and a pump installed. In 1952 one more room was built. In 1958 the stone school was torn down and four modern rooms built. In 1966 five more rooms were added making nine classrooms at present including a kindergarten. Since 1964 the children are all conveyed to school by bus.

Among the early settlers who might be remembered for their works are: Washington Campbell, a stump puller; Michael Covie, a well digger; and Thomas LeMessurier, a fine house carpenter. Mark Crooker settled on a crown land farm and built the house on the 8th concession where Henry Gastle now lives. He was a local preacher and often walked to Hamilton to preach on Sundays. Burdge Gunby was a local preacher and farmer who at one time owned the largest barn in Ontario. John Crooker owned the general store and post office which was burned in 1871. Mrs. Koella, a native of Switzerland, kept a store and post office for many years. Talbert Carey operated a general store in Carlisle and used to take the farmers' produce in trade for dry goods and groceries. Hiram Wallace was a shoemaker. Joseph Fuester had a thriving shoemaking business in the house now occupied by Mrs. Clark Eaton. Mrs. Charles Newell remembers her brothers having their work shoes made to order at that shop. Blacksmithing was once a flourishing trade in Carlisle. There used to be two shops, one run by James Holmes, and the other by Ransom Millard who also had a wagon shop.

On the south corner of the village square was a hotel run by Barney Brown. It was a stopping place for travellers, and Mrs. Brown was noted for serving splendid meals. This hotel was closed in 1911 when the Local Option came into effect in East Flamborough, and William Hopkinson then opened it as a Temperance House. There are four parks in Carlisle: the Church Park, Hall Park, Halton Region Conservation Authority at the creek, and one north of the village. The Methodist Church, formerly on the 10th concession east, was moved to Carlisle and used as the Orange Hall until 1957 when a new Orange Hall was built.

In 1911 the C.P.R. was built from Hamilton to Guelph Junction. This railway was a great convenience to the community as both passenger and freight trains travelled the tracks each day. Around 1914 cars were introduced in the community with Peter Green being the first owner. Then in 1915 Charles Eaton, Case Eaton, Ed Freed, A. E. Blagden, Charles Newell and George Alderson bought their first cars.

In 1921 the Community Hall was built. In 1927 A. E. Blagden built a garage which was sold in 1947 to William Henderson the present owner. In 1946 the blacksmith shop was closed. In 1947 Carlisle really started to grow, and since that time about 200 houses have been built in the vicinity. In 1952 Bates and Green built their present garage. In 1952 Carlisle United Church observed its Centennial Year. Carlisle has one of the most beautiful rose gardens in the province which V. Kraus started in 1954. On March 8, 1962 the Toronto Dominion Bank in the centre of Carlisle burned, and the bank was moved across the street. In 1965 the United Church Christian Education Building was started, and it was dedicated on March 6, 1966.

Down Bronte Creek (sometimes called the Twelve Mile Creek) nearly one mile from Carlisle was the one-time village of Progreston said to have been named by James Kievel, a mill owner of long ago. There were once 180 people living there. Here in early days, taking advantage of the sixteen foot fall of water, were several industries: three saw mills, two grist mills, a peg factory and a blacksmith shop. Andrew Patton had a saw and shingle mill and a building built for a grist mill but never used for that purpose. It was this property that Freeman Green bought and equipped for a woollen mill in 1869. Mr. Green also built the Green homestead in 1870 - the house which Mrs. Howard Green now occupies. This woollen mill was known for the splendid quality of its product. After the death of Freeman Green, his son Peter Green carried on this business for 36 years until the mill was destroyed by fire in 1911. There was also a casket factory in Progreston run by Ira and Charles Green.

Sam Campbell built a saw mill in 1869 which was changed to a grist mill; this was still being run by Sam and William Campbell in 1882. This mill was destroyed by fire and rebuilt by Spencer Bennett and later operated by his son Bert Bennett; it was closed in October 1964. Allison's mill was built on the 10th concession east and Koella's saw mill on the corner of the 9th concession and highway 6. Also on the 9th concession was a brick kiln on the Bayfield farm. Brick from this kiln was used in building Campbell's grist mill and house in Progreston and also the Van Norman house now occupied by Orley Marshall. The blacksmith shop in Progreston was run by William Ashbury.

At Progreston today is one of the few mills in Ontario still to be seen in its original aspect. The huge round flume, constructed of horizontally laid boards strapped round with iron hoops, carries the water from the falls to the mill. This settlement of a few old houses and the mill, set in a quiet valley, evokes the memory of early industrial settlements of the 1800's.

** From David McCarthy - There is an engraved concrete sign on the upper gable between the two spruce trees....VICTORIA PUBLIC SCHOOL....SS# 5 EAST FLAMBORO...BUILT 1905.

-From the Book "1867 1967 Waterdown and East Flamborough" published in 1967 by the Waterdown and East Flamborough Centennial Committee, pp. 35-39.

Last Updated
October 21, 2023