Rock Chapel is a community located on Rock Chapel Road near the intersection with Valley Road and about 0.5 km south of Ontario Highway 5 (Dundas Street) in lots 21 & 22 concession 2 West Flamborough Township. It is on a height of land known as the Niagara Escarpment and overlooks the City of Hamilton, the city hall of which is 7 km to the southeast, and the centre of the Town of Dundas, which is 3.5 km to the south. It is 2.5 km southwest of Clappison's Corners, 5 km southwest of Waterdown, 5 km south of Millgrove, 5 km northeast of Greensville and 5 km northeast of Bullock's Corners.
It is named after the Methodist chapel which was built there in 1822. It was originally named Cummins Chapel after Daniel Cummins who was the class leader when the wood frame chapel was built about 100 meters south of the Valley Road intersection in lot 21, concession 2, West Flamborough Township. It was originally a part of the Genesee (New York) Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The original Trustees were Daniel Cummins, Sampson Howell, Walter Simon, Abner Everitt, and Clarkson Freeman. Later, after Daniel Cummins had helped Rev. Henry Ryan to found a new denomination called the Canadian Wesleyan Methodist Church, the name of the chapel was changed, on the suggestion of Rev. Anson Green, to Rock Chapel. A metal historical plaque was erected by Rock Chapel United Church on a post close to the site of original Cummins Chapel. Unfortunately the sign erroneously named it Cumming's Chapel.
In 1876 a new red brick chapel was built about 523 meters north and on the opposite side of the road. From then the original wood frame building was used as a meeting hall and polling station until it was razed in 1947. The present Rock Chapel is a part of the Hamilton Presbytery of the United Church of Canada.
Rock Chapel cemetery was established in April 22 1830 by Abner Everitt et al. "Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church Burying Ground atached to Rock Chapel" when they bought one acre from Moses Morden in lot 21 concession 2 West Flamborough. (Abner Everitt was a son-in-law of Daniel Cummins.) The deed was registered one year later on April 21 1831. The township was then in the County of Halton, District of Gore. It was later in the County of Wentworth. The present red-brick Rock Chapel was built on the property of the cemetery.
Rock Chapel is the site of a beautiful waterfall now known as Borer's Falls. The falls were named after the family of John Borer Sr. and Keziah Holmes who operated a mill there from 1871 when they bought the mill site and 18 acres from the estate of Edward Averill. 22-year-old William John Borer, a son of John Borer Sr., was killed in a saw mill accident there in 1888. In 1912 another son, John Borer Jr. sold the falls area to William Flatt who sold it in 1911 to the Ontario Department of Highways. The family of Austin Borer (grandson of John Borer senior) still live in Rock Chapel.
Earlier owners of the mill site at the falls included John Cummins who bought the saw mill and mill site property on 3 acres north and south of the road and east of the falls from Daniel Morden in July 19 1824. (John Cummins was the eldest son of Daniel Cummins above.)
Late in the 19th century a new brick public school, known as Bowman School, was located at the intersection of Ontario Highway 5 (Dundas Street) and Millgrove Side Road on the southeast corner of lot 15 concession 3 West Flamborough.
The 19th century saw the establishment of several business spurred by the mill. It is now largely a residential neighbourhood in a rural agricultural setting.
To the east and southwest of Borer's Falls is a conservation area belonging to the Royal Botanical Gardens which preserves the falls and many acres of land near the escarpment.
A map from Wentworth Genweb shows concessions, sideroads with current names, and cemetery locations. This is a modern map employing the township boundaries of 1875.
The primary source for basic documents (vital statistics, land records, wills) for people who lived in the Province of Ontario is the Archives of Ontario, 134 Ian Macdonald Blvd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M7A 2C5.
Civil registration did not begin in the province until 1869. Before then there may be church records of baptisms and burials. For the most part these are still held by the denomination who recorded them. Copies of marriage records made pre-1869 had to be sent by individual clergymen to the registrar of the county in which the marriage took place. These marriage records are available through Ontario Archives, on micorfilm through LDS libraries, and on paid and unpaid websites, but because they were copied at the registrars' offices, they cannot be considered a primary source.
Vital Records after 1869
Birth, marriage and death registrations are not open to the public until a specific number of years after the event occurred. Births to 1914 are now available [October 2012]; dates for marriages and deaths are later. Birth and death registration was not universally carried out in the early years after its adoption. Deaths were more apt to be reported than births for several years. The more rural the area, the less likely it would be that these happenings were reported to the authorities.
Land Records and Wills
Information on how to access land records and wills is best sought on the Archives of Ontario website. An ancestor's land holding might be found on Canadian County Atlas Digital Project if he was in occupancy circa 1878.
Association for the Preservation of Ontario Land Registry Office Documents (APOLROD). A list of Land Registry Offices for all Counties of Ontario.
The original censuses are in the hands of Library and Archives Canada. All of the original census (1851-1911) images are online with the exception of that for 1861. Not all of them are indexed. Later censuses are not yet available. Census divisions were redrawn as the population increased and more land was inhabited.
E-books and Books
Some websites with more local information on Wentworth County