17 King Street West, Colborne

(Late 1800s)
Roll No. 1411-012-020-34000 – Cramahe Township Ontario

Italianate Vernacular

No. 17 King Street West is one of three “Sister properties” on a street of large, impressive century homes in the village of Colborne. Although many of the Italianate houses in the area are brick, No. 17 and No. 19 are clad in siding. It is difficult to assess the build dates of No. 17/19 beyond late 1800s. Similarly, No. 21 is red brick and although the foundation appears to be poured concrete (pointing to a post 1900 build date), it is in fact parged rubble.

Both No. 17 and No. 19 are principally Italianate in design but they differ in some of the details. Italianate buildings are tall and narrow with an offset front door – as distinct from the centre hall Georgian plans – the windows are also tall and narrow and almost invariably the sash is round headed. There is often a bay or bow window, one or two story, and there is a porch of some sort.

Italianates have a hip roof and they frequently have modest to elaborate Victorian trim on a spare frame. Many of the original footprints of these Italianates have been augmented with a rear “tail” usually added to provide a bigger kitchen and more bedrooms.

No. 17 does not have round headed windows, it does have a three pane, two story bay window and a large porch. There is none of the usual Italianate trim such as brackets, decorative cornice board and gingerbread. There is a rear wing extension on the east side with an open balcony above, and an open porch beyond that with a shed. The property has a white picket fence which adds considerable charm to its overall appearance. It also has a hip roof. The cladding is wide board which might indicate a later build date as the clapboard of the 19th century is more often painted, wooden and narrow plank. However it is quite common to find original narrow gauge clapboard under siding of a newer vintage.

History or Associative Value

10/12/1855 Norman Bennett sold property on the South side of King St. W. that today encompasses six house (#11 to #23), to his sisters Emily, Mary and Ann Bennett. 1898, Emily sold the land to Robert J. Rutherford, a local fruit dealer and second cousin of Colborne’s local war hero. In 1915 Donald Conacher Matthews became owner and between 1914-1930 he also owned the Keeler-Campbell house in Lakeport, which is perhaps the oldest house in the township. Rutherford probably built this house in the late 1800s.

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

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) (LINKS). 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) (LINK). 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. Mary Bennett’s property was the middle of these three blocks. At some point that unfortunately remains obscure, this block made its way into the hands of her sister Emily, and Emily sold the eastern half of it (now 17 King Street West) to Robert J. Rutherford (1842-?) on 31 March 1898. Rutherford was a fruit dealer. He married three times, the first time to Harriet Elisa Dorr (1846-1888), the second time to Carrie E. Smith (1852-1900), and the third time to Emma Jane Preston (1841-1915). He married Harriet in 1871 in Haldimand Twp. She died in 1888. He then married Carrie in 1895 in Toronto. He was married to Carrie when he purchased the Colborne property in 1898. She then died in 1900 and he married Emma in 1904 in Montreal. Rutherford had four children by his first wife, but apparently none by the second or third. The children, William Arthur (1873-?), Lena May (1875-1968), Ralph James (1877-1954), and Edward Clark (1883-?) ranged in age from 15 to 25 when their father bought the property at 17 King Street West, and one might assume at least the youngest moved there with him from Haldimand Township. However, none were recorded with him in the 1901 census. Interestingly, though, Lena and Ralph eventually married their respective spouses in Cramahe Township.

Note: Robert Rutherford was a relative of Charles Smith Rutherford (1892-1989), our local war hero. Robert was Charles’s father’s first cousin.

The property next passed into the ownership of Donald Conacher Matthews (1859-1930) on 30 October 1915. This is the same Donald Matthews who owned the Keeler-Campbell House from 1914 to 1930. He only appears in Cramahe censuses for 1921. Prior to that he lived in Haldimand Township. Matthews was an apple dealer by trade, but he had been a seaman in his youth (so noted in 1881 census). He married Catherine Pomeroy (1865-1946) in 1879 and had nine children. Of these, five had either died or married by the time Matthews moved to Colborne. The other four (Charles, 1880-?; Frederick, 1882-1965; Isaac, ca. 1891-?; and Lorne (ca. 1897-?) were still with him in 1911 and might have moved to Colborne with him in 1915, but only Lorne appears with him in the 1921 census. Matthews owned the property through our 1921 cut-off. He died of myocarditis in 1930.

Who built the house? The property belonged to the Bennett family until it was sold to Robert Rutherford in 1898. Rutherford sold it in 1915 to Donald Matthews. The 1911 census has Rutherford living at 576 King Street. This appears to be a numbering system that no longer exists, but the King Street address suggests that he may have lived on the property of interest. He owned no other property in town at the time. The 1921 census gives Donald Matthews’s address as “King Street W”. Again, this is pretty strong circumstantial evidence that he lived at 17 King Street West. If both Rutherford and Matthews lived there, the house was either built by Rutherford or it was already present when he bought the land. However, Rutherford bought the property from Emily Bennett for $175 and sold it to Donald Matthews for $2500. This makes it look like Rutherford probably built the house.


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