14 Park Street West, Colborne

(late 1800s)
Roll No. 1411-012-010-09000 – Cramahe Township Ontario

Gothic Revival Cottage

No. 14 Park Street is on a very large double lot in the Western end of the village of Colborne – near Highway 2 (formerly the Kingston/ York Road).

The principal house is a Gothic Revival Cottage Vernacular, which is also called the Ontario Cottage in this province. There is a second structure on the property, an elaborate bunkie or guest accommodation. There is a stream and swimming pool. The large double lot – 6 acres in total is on a ravine which makes much of the acreage inaccessible.

In this property, an addition under the front gable (sunroom, porch, or vestibule) alters the classic lines of the Gothic Revival.

In Northumberland, many of these Cottages are red brick with corner quoins, or stucco. This one is horizontal wood clapboard. The central gable has a square 6 over 6 pane window rather than the Palladian style one more commonly sees. There is some gingerbread in the gable peak.

There is a great deal of foliage and it is not immediately apparent where the front door of the house is located.

Many of the windows are six over six square in keeping with the Gothic Revival style. There may be a hood molding or dripstone over the windows but it is impossible to see with the abundant foliage.

There is a period style and proverbial white picket fence and gate giving the property a charming quality.

History or Associative Value

Farmer turned customs collector, George Orchard Fowler owned this property in 1861. It passed to his brother, Timothy in 1865 and then to his sister-in-law, Emma, in 1871, then to her son. The property was in the same family from 1861 to 1921 (the last documented census date). The house was probably built by Timothy Fowler, and he may have lived in the house on the adjacent property (now a B&B) during construction. Emma Fowler, (sister-in-law) is listed as living there in the 1911 census.

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information

14 Park Street Reid Lot 22

Nathaniel Gaffield (ca. 1755-ca. 1838) was the first owner of Concession 2, Lot 32, a 200 acre parcel part of which would later become Reid Lot 52. To read more about Nathaniel Gaffield, … (LINK TO EARLY LANDOWNERS HERE?). Lot 32 is bounded on the south by King Street West, and on the north by Orchard and Purdy Roads. On the east it is bounded by the undeveloped road allowance running north from Ontario Street. On the west the southern half of the Lot is bounded by Percy Street. Percy Street angles northwestward in the northern half of Lot 32, and the western edge of the lot is along the line Percy would have taken if it had headed straight north.

Although he had probably lived there since at least 1797, Gaffield wasn’t officially granted Lot 32 until 13 May 1804. He sold it to Joseph Keeler (1763-1839) on 23 January 1806. For more on the Keeler family… (LINK TO EARLY LANDOWNERS HERE?).
Keeler transferred the southern third of Concession 2, Lot 32 to his son Joseph Abbott Keeler (1788-1855) on 1 January 1824. This was the area now bounded by Ontario Street on the west, Percy Street on the east, and King Street on the south. The northern limit was along the backs of the modern properties along the north side of Park Street.

Over the next 30 years Joseph Abbott Keeler sold off bits and pieces of this land to a variety of people. On 28 September 1854 he transferred what was left of his property in this area to two of his children. Most of it went to his son Joseph Keeler III (1824-1881). What would become Reid Lot 22 was included in this transfer.

Joseph Keeler III sold Reid Lot 22 to George Orchard Fowler (1832-1899) on 16 April 1861. At the time Fowler’s occupation was listed as “yeoman”. Farmer in other words. In early records he was variously listed as yeoman, farmer, and potter, but after 1877 he was a collector of customs. He was born in Belleville and moved to Colborne with his parents Orchard James Fowler (ca. 1800-?) and Eliza Jane Thompson (ca. 1812-1890) in 1839. He was a resident of Colborne from then until he became a customs collector, after which he seems to have bounced back and forth between Colborne and Cobourg. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Colborne in 1899. Fowler married Sarah Small Clarke (1838-1885) and there are records of five children: Anna G. (1860-1865), Mary Eliza (1862-1862), Richard Victor (1864-1925), Louise Maude (1867-1917), and Frederick Lincoln (1873-1890).

On 1 June 1865 George O. Fowler sold the property to Timothy Guy Fowler (ca. 1836-?). Available information on this Fowler is limited, but his age and his association with other members of the Fowler family in land transactions suggest that he was likely George Fowler’s brother. In the 1861 census his wife was Harriet Sanborn (ca. 1836-?), and in 1871 it was Charlotte Jane (surname unknown, ca. 1839-?). There were three children listed in the 1871 census: Eliza Ann (ca. 1863-?), Orchard J. (ca. 1865-?), and Lucy Olivia (ca. 1866-?). Later marriage records for Orchard and Lucy demonstrate that Harriet was their mother. Timothy Fowler was a potter by trade.

Timothy Fowler passed the property to Emma Ann Fowler (née McKenzie, 1837-1921) on 18 August 1871. Emma was the wife of another brother, Harvey Fowler (1838-1905). Harvey lived most of his life in Colborne, although during part of the 1860’s he was in Belleville, where he married Emma in 1861. In 1861 he was a tanner; later records have him as a fur trader. He died suddenly of heart failure in Colborne in 1905. Emma died of myocarditis in Colborne in 1921. Reference has been found for three children: Ella (ca. 1865-?), Minnie F. (ca. 1869-?), and Charles H. (1870-?).

Land Office records next suggest that Reid Lot 22 was willed on 9 April 1903 by William Alger (1825-1903) to his wife Fanny (1828-?), but it was were still owned in 1934 by Harvey’s and Emma’s son Charles H. Fowler, so the Alger record would appear to be in error. Charles must have inherited the property when his mother died in 1921.

This property remained in the Fowler family from 1861 through the 1921 cutoff date, and sales prices among family members are often artificially low. Despite the suspect nature of within-family sales figures, the prices for this property yield a clear suggestion regarding the date of construction of the house. George Fowler bought Lot 22 from Joseph Keeler for $50 in 1861. He sold it to his brother Timothy in 1865 for $75. Timothy then sold it in 1871 to his sister-in-law Emma for $800. This indicates that there likely was a major improvement to the lot (a house?) between 1865 and 1871. If the present house predates 1871, Timothy Fowler probably built it. If after that date, it was probably his brother Harvey (Emma’s husband).

If the land prices imply anything real, there was no house on the property prior to 1865, so George Fowler didn’t live there. It would appear that Timothy Fowler likely built a house on the property. At the time he was part owner of Reid Lot 24, which had a house on it (now the Colborne Bed and Breakfast), but since he probably built a house on Lot 22, there is a good chance he lived there. Emma Fowler probably bought the Lot when she and her husband moved to Colborne from Belleville. She retained it until her death in 1921. She definitely lived there: she is so listed in the 1911 census.

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