Block Name: “Transformation”
Host Name: John & Barbara Fallis
Address: 531 Fallis Line, Millbrook, ON
Transformation is an original block with colours, geometrical shapes and images chosen by the owners. It is a striking tribute to the Fallis family’s lengthy legacy in the township, acknowledging deep roots and progress in agriculture, education and community through a pictorial history of the family’s contribution through five generations.
Having admired the Barn Quilt Trail in Prince Edward County, John and Barbara jumped at the opportunity to participate in the Cavan Monaghan Barn Quilt Trail, seeing it as a lasting way to showcase their family’s contributions to the community.
Quilting holds a special place in John and Barbara’s hearts. Learning from her mom and aunt when she was young, Barbara has been happily engaging more in this pastime since retiring in 2011. While John is no quilter, he fondly remembers growing up with “a quilt on every bed,” including one by his honorary “Aunt Jess”, a Barnardo child who crafted it by stitching together the prize ribbons his grandfather Samuel had won showing prized horses and Jersey cattle.
Long preceding current owners John and Barbara Fallis was the region’s “original” John Fallis who emigrated to the area in 1817 from the equally picturesque Cavan County, Ireland. Together, he and his wife settled on a plot of land along the Sixth Line, now named Fallis Line.
According to the historical summary contained in the book This Green and Pleasant Land: “A successful famer, John was soon able to purchase an additional 100 acres on the north side of the sixth line (1826).
On that property he built a large Regency style home where he and his wife Catherine raised three children, including a son John Jr” (1837-1918, the paternal great grandfather of the “current” John Fallis). “John Jr. married twice and fathered six children. Two of his sons, Fred and Arthur, farmed the same land their grandfather had initially settled; Fred, a successful dairy farmer and Arthur, who in 1909 was given the farm his grandfather had established on the north side of the 6th line for One Dollar. Arthur married Irene Raper and lived in the beautiful home his grandfather built in 1840.”
In 1921, Arthur purchased the farm across the road (now 531 Fallis Line) spurred by the potential for better, less sandy and more workable land for mixed farming purposes. Arthur’s wife Irene agreed to the move on the condition that a new, larger family home would eventually replace the existing tiny brick house. Arthur fulfilled his promise in 1942 despite a limited supply of building materials during wartime; incorporating part of the original foundation and repurposing a number of bricks. On the new land, Arthur and family continued with mixed farming; raising some cattle and pigs, working with horses, and allotting most of the farmland to grow grain for feed.
Arthur and Irene had two children, Kenneth and Eric (the current owner John’s father). In adulthood Kenneth was appointed the Director of the Soils and Crops branch of the Ontario Ministry and Agriculture and named a Distinguished Agrologist in 1982 for his contribution to crop improvement. True to his lineage, Eric also dedicated his life to agriculture; farming the fertile land on Fallis Line, alongside his wife Velma. Together they had three children: current owner John, his sister Margaret and brother Mark.
During Eric’s time at the helm, things began to shift in Canada’s agricultural landscape, with the government encouraging more specialization in agriculture. This push saw Eric transition to commercial mixed farming, selling cream and hogs and cattle. It was during this period that current owner John Fallis was born and raised. After time spent at university and travelling out west, he rejoined the family farming business in 1975, at a time when his father had begun to convert it into a specialized cattle and pork operation. That conversion continued to progress and the family soon specialized in pork, expanding their hybrid swine operation and growing crops for feed.
In 1981, after John and Barbara wed, a second farm west of Tapley Quarter Line was purchased, dedicated to cropping. John’s parents Eric and Velma relocated there while John and Barbara stayed on the home farm. In 1996, when another farm came up for sale to the east on Fallis Line, John and Barbara jumped at the opportunity to further expand their land base for cropping and enable a better crop rotation. Back at 531 Fallis Line, they had erected two sizeable sheds to accommodate the increasingly large equipment required for their swine and grain business. The Transformation block adorns one of these sheds.
John and Barbara managed the family’s highly successful pork operation until 2007, when they made the decision to focus exclusively on cash cropping; a business that continues to this day.
Having lived so long in the area, it is not surprising that the Fallis family’s impact and contribution extends beyond farming. They are also known in the area for their contribution to education: Barbara taught at Millbrook South Cavan public school, Velma at North Cavan public school; John and Barb’s daughter Katie is currently teaching in Elora, Ontario; John’s brother Mark was a teacher and principal in Peterborough.
The Fallis name is also linked to local politics. John served as a local politician for 11 years; an interest fuelled by his passion for farmland preservation. He spent 1995 to 1998 as a municipal Councillor, 2010 to 2014 as Mayor, and 2014 to 2018 as Deputy Mayor.
Block designed by: Kate DeKlerck
Block painted by: Jeanne Moran and Maya deMaria
Barn Quilt Trail Etiquette:
Please Respect Private Property. Most quilt blocks are installed on private property and should be viewed from the road.
Please do not trespass. In some cases - only where clearly indicated - the barn quilt may be located on a business and the property may be open to the public.
Please drive carefully. Stopping along busy roads can be dangerous and illegal. Use caution when slowing or stopping near a site