1078 Ontario Street, Colborne

(c.1870s)
Roll No. 1411-011-010-09500 – Cramahe Township Ontario

Ontario Farmhouse

No. 1078 Ontario Street in the village of Colborne, is the classic red brick found in so many century homes in Northumberland County and Cramahe Township.

It most closely resembles an architectural style called the Ontario farmhouse in that it has a gable end facing the street with a side addition, in this case a double width wing, and there is a substantial brick rear “tail” as well.

The Ontario farmhouse can be one and a half stories (or two) and some have steep pointed Gothic gables (with copious gingerbread), this house is a more restrained version with wider gable peaks which have the Italianate brackets under the eaves.
There is a three window bay on the gable front and on the South side wing, all with two over two panes.

It has the symmetrical arrangement of doors and windows with a main front door in the wing and another in the “tail” addition. There is a front porch with some gingerbread on the facade, and a modern verandah in the “tail”. True to the style, there is a glass transom over the front door with sidelights. All the windows are tall and narrow with 2 over 2 panes. The sashes appear square with flat round arches above each window. The property has, until recently, been “rural” in that it had no neighbours. It sits on a large heavily treed plot on an unpaved road. There is a commercial style outbuilding which may have housed a business at one time.

Today, a new subdivision sits across the road from No. 1078 but it is still wide open space around and behind the property and it is one of the most impressive farmhouses in the area.

History or Associative Value

The names associated with this property are a “Who’s Who” of early Cramahe settlement: Ward, Keeler, Scott, Campbell, McTavish. Architecturally, it could be placed anywhere 1860-1885. Donald Campbell owned the property 1841-65, at which time, he put it in trust to 3 of his step-nieces/nephews, offspring of Maria, daughter of HBC Governor-in-Chief George Simpson, and Donald McTavish (who reputedly established an HBC post in Lakeport in 1810). Both Hudson’s Bay Company royalty of their day.

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information

1078 Ontario Street

Lying on the west side of Ontario Street, this property is in Concession 1, Lot 33. The 200 acres comprising this property were granted on 15 April 1811 by the Crown to John Ward (1765-1822) of Cramahe Township. Ward was listed in Cramahe censuses from 1797 through 1810. I doubt that he was ever resident on Lot 33, though, because he owned the property there for only ten days. He sold it to Joseph Keeler (1763-1839) on 25 April 1811.

Joseph Keeler sold the northern half of Lot 33 to Reuben Scott (1792-1872) on 2 January 1818. This was the first Cramahe land transaction involving Reuben Scott, and in fact Scott was still a resident of Haldimand Twp. when he purchased the property. Scott wasn’t to purchase any other property in Cramahe until 1832 (when his center of operations shifted to East Colborne), so I am inclined to believe that he probably resided on Lot 33 for at least part of the 14 years between 1818 and 1832.

On 9 September 1833, soon after purchasing property in East Colborne, Reuben Scott sold his land in Lot 33 to Dugald Campbell (1796-1882), a resident of Cobourg at the time. Campbell appeared in Cramahe censuses from 1842 through 1881, and died there in 1882. I can’t find any indication that he ever married and his gravestone lists no other names. Most references I have to his occupation list him as “gentleman”, which isn’t very helpful. The 1861 census listed him as a lumber dealer.

On 19 November 1841 Dugald Campbell sold his property in Lot 33 to Donald Campbell (1811-1892) who I think was probably his brother, although I can’t verify this. I can find no genealogies or other references linking the two, but Dugald was generally recorded as living with Donald and his family in Cramahe censuses. They were only 15 years apart in age, so a father-son relationship seems unlikely.

Argyris describes a house known as “Bellevue” that stood, until it burned down in 1949, at the point where Ontario Street turns into Lakeport Road. This house may have been built on the site of a trading post erected by a Donald McTavish in 1810. According to Argyris, in 1820 it became the property of Donald Campbell, who lived there with his wife Maria from 1828 onward. There is no indication of any of this in Land Office records. The property where Bellevue stood was owned by James Ogden (1800-1870) in 1828 and not sold to Donald Campbell until 1858.

Maria was the daughter of Sir George Simpson (1786-1860) who was the Governor-in-Chief of the Hudson Bay Company during the period of its greatest power, following the famous merger with the Northwest Trading Company in 1821. Simpson apparently wasn’t averse to sewing a few wild oats, because he is known to have fathered at least 11 children by at least 7 women, only one of whom was his wife. Maria Louisa Simpson (1815-1891) was the first of these children. She was born in London 14 years before Simpson finally got married (not to Maria’s mother). Maria married Donald McTavish (1815-1849) and moved to Canada. She later married Donald Campbell. Again, the dates are a little muddled here: Maria married McTavish in 1833, and, since he was born in 1815, her husband was clearly not the same Donald McTavish who built the trading post in 1810. Perhaps a son? Also, Maria didn’t marry Campbell until 1865 so obviously she wasn’t living with him at Bellevue in 1828. She was only 13 years old at the time and Donald Campbell didn’t own Bellevue until 1858.

Maria had several children with McTavish, but as far as I can tell, none with Campbell.

Nine days after he married Maria, Donald Campbell transferred title of the northern half of Lot 33 to James Cumming (1807-1873) of Trenton and John Douglas Armour (1830-1903) of Cobourg. I think this was some sort of trust arrangement because the 1878 Atlas shows the land still belonging to Campbell and because on 9 January 1895, after Campbell’s death, Armour, the only one of the trustees still living and by now Chief Justice of the Queen’s Bench High Court of Justice, transferred the property to four of Maria’s children by her first husband: Maria Louisa Beeston (1845-1918) of Shoal Lake, Manitoba, Mary Emily Isabelle McTavish (1847-1932) of Cramahe, Donald Campbell McTavish (1844-1913), a factor for the Hudson Bay Company, and Archibald McTavish Campbell (1852-1942) of Winnipeg (apparently he took his step-father’s surname). No significant money was involved in either transaction.

On 1 September 1897 Archibald, Donald, and Mary transferred all rights to the property to their sister Maria Louisa Beeston, and she retained ownership until her death in 1918. I don’t have a record of what happened to the property after that, but I have copies of Land Office records only up until 1921 and my guess is that the land stayed in the hands of her heirs at least through that date: the next transaction is probably on the next page of the records, which I didn’t photocopy.

It is hard to see from all this who might had lived in the house at 1078 Ontario Street, or when it was built. Its style wouldn’t suggest something before 1841 would it? If not, we can rule out Reuben Scott and Dugald Campbell as builders and place Donald Campbell pretty solidly in that slot, unless the house was built after his death in 1892. Could it have been built before 1878? There is a building on the site in the Atlas of that year. If the current house is more recent than 1878, then the house in the Atlas could have been the one occupied by Scott and/or by Dugald Campbell. This house would then have been replaced later by the one that stands there now. Of course, if the current house predates 1878, then it itself is the one in the Atlas.

Pretty certainly, Donald Campbell and his wife didn’t live in the house at 1078 Ontario Street. Bellevue house to the south was their home undoubtedly until their deaths. According to Argyris Bellevue then passed into the hands of Maria’s daughter Emily McTavish and then to her brother Archibald Campbell. It is tempting to assume that some other member or members of the McTavish clan lived at 1078 Ontario Street, but I have no evidence one way or the other. Maria Beeston was living in Colborne when she died in 1918 and it seems reasonable to suggest that she lived in the house in question. If so, she didn’t move there immediately after becoming sole owner: she was still living in Manitoba in 1901. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find a record for her anywhere in 1911.

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