18 Percy Street, Colborne

Roll No. 1411-012-010-19600 – Cramahe Township Ontario

Gothic Revival Cottage

No. 18 Percy Street is a Gothic Revival Cottage also called Ontario Cottage in this part of the Province. It is a three bay, one & a half story, clapboard property with a one story extension on the rear of the house, also clapboard.

There is the ubiquitous central peaked gable over the front door with a narrow square sash rather than the more common Palladian window. The front facade windows are six over six pane but most of the others appear to be of a newer vintage.

The front door has a transom and sidelights with a unique and very attractive style of mullions. There is a front “arcade” porch with unique decorative pillars which add to the property’s charm.

The cottage has a peak roof with returning eaves. The foundation appears to be concrete which would indicate a build date after 1900 rather than the more common rubble stone foundations commonly found in the 19th century buildings.

History or Associative Value

This lot and many others belonged to Eliza Jane Gilchrist before 1875, deeded to her by her father J.A. Keeler. It changed hands a number of times and unmarried Nellie Ives sold it to George Wilson, an insurance agent, in 1909. But 3 days later, Wilson granted the lots back to Nellie and her two unmarried sisters as “tenants in common”. The three plus their older sister, lived there until their deaths in the 1940s. The house was probably built between 1875, when Eliza sold it to John Chapman, and his death in 1906.

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information
18 Percy Street, Colborne, Ontario
Cramahe Township, Concession 2, Lot 31, Reid Lot 76

The first settlers in Cramahe Township arrived from Rutland, Vermont, in 1793 under the leadership of Joseph Keeler (1763-1839). Among the early settlers were George Asahel (1761-1833) and Hannah (1765-1832) Palmer (LINK). On their arrival, the Palmers took possession of the 200 acres of land in Concession 2, Lot 31. This land was officially deeded to George Palmer by the Crown on 15 July 1802.

Palmer sold his 200 acres to Joseph Keeler on 18 January 1812, on the same day buying from Keeler 150 acres in Concession 1, Lot 30, just to the south and one lot east of the property they sold. Basically, Palmer and Keeler appear to have simply exchanged the two properties.

Joseph Keeler transferred the “front part” of Lot 31 to his son Joseph Abbott Keeler (1788-1855) (LINK) on 15 January 1824. Joseph Abbott Keeler then proceeded to sell off lots in this area and what remained on 23 September 1854 was divided between his daughter Eliza Jane Keeler (1812-1897) and his son Joseph Keeler III (1824-1881) (LINK). Eliza married Matthew Gilchrist (ca. 1799-1850) (LINK) in 1828 and later William Burke (1808-?) in 1861.

Eliza Jane Keeler Gilchrist Burke sold Reid Lots 74, 75, and 76 to John Chapman (ca. 1833-1906) on 2 October 1875. No genealogy has been found listing John Chapman, but from censuses it appears he was a carriage maker, born in England, and married to a woman named Susan. Children included William H. (b. ca. 1859), Laura Anne (b. ca. 1859), and Albert E. (b. ca. 1863). The Chapmans were included in Cramahe censuses starting in 1861. John Chapman was a resident of Percy Street when he died of “uremic poisoning” (kidney failure?) in 1906.

On 1 June 1907, the executors John Chapman’s will sold the three Reid lots to William Henry Ives (1839-1909). Ives, a carpenter by trade, was a native of Cramahe. He married Louisa Stimers (1838-1906) in 1859 and had eight children: Alice Lillian (b. 1861), George Clarence (b. 1862), Elmer Elsworth (b. 1866), Blanche Victoria Elmira (b. 1868), Cyrus Watson (b. 1870), Nellie Hester (b. 1872), Mary Louise (b. 1874) and Flora Beatrice (b. 1878). Flora died in infancy, and the other children were all adults by the time their father purchased this property.

William Ives died of pleuropneumonia in 1909. His unmarried daughter Nellie was executrix of his will. On 27 September 1909 she sold Reid lots 74-76 to George Edward Rowcliffe Wilson (1855-?), a Colborne insurance agent. This looks like some sort of legal fiction, however, because on 1 October 1909 (3 days later) Wilson granted the lots back to Nellie and her sisters Mary and Blanche, both also unmarried, as “tenants in common”. The Ives girls continued to live there (or at least to own the property) until their deaths in the 1940’s. Interestingly, the next recorded sale was in 1944 when the propery was sold by the Old Age Pensions Commission (established in 1927 and functioning in Ontario by 1929). How did the Commission gain ownership?

The builder and occupants of the house can’t be known for sure with the information at hand, but it is pretty obvious who likely was involved. Eliza Gilchrist almost certainly lived in the Keeler House and, with a bit less certainty, later in the house at 8 Victoria Lane. She owned all of the southern half of Concession 2, Lot 31 except downtown Colborne between Church and King Streets. Therefore there is no reason to think that there was a house on Reid lot 76 until after she sold the property to John Chapman in 1875. Chapman owned the property until his death in 1906, and, since his address at the time of his death was “Percy St.”, it’s pretty clear he probably lived in the house of interest. If so, he undoubtedly built it, likely not too long after he bought the property. It is unclear if William Ives lived in the house: he owned it for only two years before his death. On the other hand, it’s pretty obvious that his daughters lived there. Nellie, Mary, and Blanche, as well their older sister Alice were living there as of the 1911 census.


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