15 King Street West, Colborne

(late 1800s)
Roll No. 1411-012-020-33900 – Cramahe Township Ontario

Unique Barrel Fronted Cottage

The cottage at 15 King Street West in the village of Colborne is unique in its design. It doesn’t represent any established architectural style, it is an individual and stands on its own as a charming contribution to King Street West and the village centre.

15 King Street West sits on a large well manicured lot with mature trees, directly across from the town library. It is adjacent to a row of very large, red brick and/or wood clad Victorian houses, known locally as “The sister properties”. On the East side are two of the oldest, most historic houses in the whole of Cramahe Township (The Thornton House at 3 King Street West and the Cuthbert Cumming House at 7 King Street West).

Local folklore says the house was built by a ship captain to remind him of his days on the Great Lakes, a charming story but unfortunately not supported by the Land Registry records.

The essentially square building is one and a half stories, accented by four dormers in the hip roof. There are two rear wings with cross gable roof lines and a small porch covering the front door.

The most charming and intriguing feature of this property is the barrel shaped front extension which has three tall, narrow windows with sixteen upper panes. These windows exactly match those in the main part of the house, giving the property a symmetrical and whimsical appeal.

Neat and appropriate landscaping completes the picture.

This property is one of the many built in past centuries that give Colborne its charm.

History or Associative Value

10/12/1855 Norman Bennett sold property on the South side of King St. W. that today encompasses six houses (#11 to #23), to his sisters Emily, Mary and Ann Bennett. 1896 Emily sold to Colborne dry goods merchant Thornton Huyck and wife Margaret who sold to Ellen Cumming in 1900 putting her two doors away (see #7 King St.W.), from her brother in law George Cumming (son of Cuthbert and himself a retired officer of the Hudson Bay Company). The land transactions point to a build date of late 1800s.

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information
15 King Street West, Colborne, Ontario
Cramahe Township, Concession 1, Lot 32

Interestingly, from 1855 through 1921, this property was owned solely by women.

John Ogden (1762-?) (LINK) was the first owner of the 200 acres that make up Concession 1, Lot 32, the Lot lying south of what is now King Street West. These 200 acres are now bounded by Ontario Street on the west, Division Street on the east, King Street on the north, and the western part of the Ogden Point Quarry on south. Ogden was granted this property by the Crown on 11 March 1809.

The next Land Office record for the south side of King Street West was the sale on 17 January 1821 of the northern 90 acres of Concession 1, Lot 32 by Jane Hodges, George G. Kent, and Hannah Kent (LINK) to Festus Bennett (?-ca. 1851) (LINK). Unfortunately, the transfer of the land from Ogden to Hodges et al. was not recorded.

Festus Bennett sold off only a little of his land during his lifetime. When he died sometime around 1851, most of it was inherited by his son Norman (ca. 1819-1872). This included all of the land in Concession 1, Lot 32 from King Street West south to about where the Grand Trunk railway tracks were soon to be laid, except for two properties in the northeastern corner previously sold by his father.

On 12 October 1855, Norman Bennett provided each of his sisters, Emily (ca. 1826-1898), Mary (ca. 1828-?), and Ann (ca. 1831-1857), with an acre of land in three contiguous blocks along the south side of King Street. 15 King Street West is the western half of Emily Bennett’s land.

Emily sold the property to Margaret Frances Huyck (1857-1943) on 9 March 1896. Margaret was born Margaret Frances Junkin in St. Catherines, Ontario, and was the wife of Colborne dry goods merchant Thornton Huyck (1864-?). The Huycks were married in 1890. As far can be determined they had a single child, Francis Garrett (1896-?). Thornton, Margaret, and Francis Huyck disappear from Cramahe records after this purchase. The next record found has them living in Toronto in 1921. They sold the property at 15 King Street West to Ellen Harriet Cumming (1865-1920) on 17 May 1900. Perhaps this was when they left Colborne.

Ellen Cumming was the widow of Cuthbert Cumming’s son George William Cumming (1851-1895), a retired Hudson Bay Company officer who died in Colborne of Bright’s disease (renal failure) in 1895. She was born Ellen Harriet Tait in Winnipeg, and married George Cumming in Manitoba in about 1886. This makes her the sister-in-law of James Cuthbert Cumming (1843-1933), the owner of 7 King street West, 2 doors down the street. George and Ellen Cumming had three children: Gwendolyn Jane McMurray (1889-1967), Robert Leslie (1891-1944), and Eric Cyril Simpson (1893-?). All three of these children were living with Ellen in Colborne in 1901.

Ellen Cumming sold the property to Maude M. R. Redfearn (ca. 1874-?) on 18 January 1903 and moved back to Manitoba with her children. Maud Redfearn was born Maud Mary Rose Bates in Brighton Township and married Charles E. Redfearn (ca. 1870-?), a sailor, in 1896, also in Brighton Township. References have been found to two children: Lorne (ca. 1898-?) and Victor (ca. 1901-?). Maud Redfearn continued to own the property through 1921.

When was the house built? Emily Bennett probably lived on the other half of the property she acquired from her brother in 1855. The Huycks owned the property from 1896 to 1900, Ellen Cumming from 1900 to 1903, and the Redfearns from then on. Assuming there was a house there during their respective ownership tenures, each of these families probably lived in it. Margaret Huyck bought the property from Emily Bennett for $175 and sold it to Ellen Cumming for $2000. This is sort of suggestive that the Huycks were responsible for improving the property by building the house. Maud Redfearn paid $1800.


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