26 Church Street West, Colborne

(c.1840-1860)
Roll No. 1411-012-010-35700 – Cramahe Township Ontario

Regency Cottage Vernacular – Designated

No. 26 Church Street West, Colborne is a Regency Cottage but there are some differences.

The Regency period in England was 1811-1820 during which time the Prince of Wales or Prince Regent, replaced his father “Mad King” George III due to the latter’s mental incapacity. The Regent became King George IV on the 29th of January 1820.

Fashioned after the “bungalow”, (a Hindi word), the style was adapted by the British from dwellings in India. Typically these properties are single story with full length windows on four walls or French doors meant to provide a cross breeze. The other prominent feature is a deep overhanging roof to provide shelter from the sun and keep the house cool. The Ontario versions can be multiple stories despite their single story appearance. (see Cuthbert Cumming House, 7 King Street West, Colborne ON)

As previously stated, the Regency cottage almost always has a low overhanging roof over a square footprint – and it often has an addition or “tail” at the rear.

Sometimes there is a verandah which continues from the roof line, again for shade and ventilation; and a centre front door with transom; there is sometimes a belvedere or dormer in the 1 and 1/2 story versions.

No. 26 is a true bungalow, it has the square footprint, the low roof, the multi-pane full length windows, however in this case, the roof overhang is quite shallow and there is no verandah though there may have been at one time in its history. It is a very attractive 3 bay house which looks much smaller on the outside than the square footage found on the inside, another trompe l’oeil of the Regency style. It was once red brick but has been stuccoed for many years.

History or Associative Value

Lots in this area were part of 200 acres granted to Nathaniel Gaffield in the very early 19th century. He sold to Joseph Keeler who sold to his son Joseph Abbott Keeler. Reid Lot 119, one lot east of 26 Church St. was sold in 1849 to Newcastle District for construction of a school. Joseph Keeler III inherited much of the current Church St. West – parts of which he sold to Ozen Keeler Strong who turned it over to “trustee” Thomas Scott. 40 years later it was sold to a Coxall (see 8 North St.). Accurate build date unknown.

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information

26 Church Street West, Colborne

This is the third residence west of Toronto Street along the north side of Church Street. It lies on what was once Reid Lot 121, part of Concession 2, Lot 32.

The 200 acres in Concession 2, Lot 32 were granted by the Crown to Nathaniel Gaffield (ca. 1755-ca. 1838) on 5/13/1804. Gaffield is discussed extensively in the King Street West write- up. On 1/23/1806 he sold the Lot to Joseph Keeler (1763-1839). Keeler transferred the southern third to his son Joseph Abbott Keeler (1788-1855) on 1/1/1824. 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. The first property sold along Church Street West was what would later be Reid Lot 119, just one lot east of the property of interest in this write-up. It was sold to the Council of Newcastle District on 6/23/1849 for the construction of a school. The house at 22 Church Street West stands there now. This means that 1849 is the first concrete date we have for the presence of Church Street West (or at least the eastern end of it), although it could easily have been present earlier.

By 1855 Joseph Abbott Keeler had sold off most of his holdings in Lot 32, and when he died that year what was left was inherited by his son Joseph Keeler (1824-1881). Along the north side of Church Street West, this inherited land included Reid Lots 120-123, 125-127, and 130 (now 24-30, 34-40, and 48 Church Street West).

Joseph Keeler III continued his father’s tradition of selling off sections of this property. On 7/6/1857 Reid Lots 120 and 121 (now 24 and 26 Church Street West) were sold to Joseph Keeler’s first cousin Ozen Keeler Strong (1832-1877). In my write-up of the Strong family I commented that his name appeared to be “Ozen” rather than “Ozem” because that is what appears on his headstone and in some birth records. Well, it turns out that the Land Office records for these transactions spell it “Ozem”, so the spelling is still unclear. Unfortunately, his signature on these records is “O. K. Strong” and therefore not very helpful. I am still inclined to think that his family wouldn’t have gotten the spelling wrong on his headstone, so I continue to favour “Ozen”.

Less than a year after purchasing them (7/3/1858) Strong and his wife turned Lots 120 and 121 over to Thomas Scott (1805-1866) as a trustee, although the 1858 record doesn’t explain exactly what he was a trustee of. Scott was a merchant, a resident of Cobourg, and the husband of Damaris Corinthia Strong (1817-1906), who was the daughter of Oren Hartwell Strong (1793-1853), the original Ozem Strong’s (1784-1857) younger brother. This makes Thomas Scott the husband of Ozen Keeler Strong’s first cousin.

Forty years then passed before the next land transaction concerning Reid Lots 120 and 121. On 4/28/1898, at the request of Elizabeth M. Whitby (1823-?), Jessie Whitby (1860-?), and Clarissa Whitby (1862-?), the High Court of Justice named Charles James McCallum (1856-1922), a Colborne grain merchant, as a trustee to replace Thomas Scott who had died 32 years before in 1866. Elizabeth Martha Whitby (née Strong) was the wife of Henry Charles Whitby (ca. 1827-1894). She was the daughter of Ozem Strong, and hence Ozen Keeler Strong’s sister. Jessie and Clarissa (“Cassie”) Whitby were Elizabeth’s daughters. Charles McCallum was the husband of Emma Jane Strong (1855-1919), daughter of William M. Gustavus Strong (1818-1870), who was another child of Oren Hartwell Strong, and hence Damaris Strong’s brother and another of Ozen Keeler Strong’s cousins. So Charles McCallum was the husband of the first-cousin-once-removed of Ozen Keeler Strong and Elizabeth Whitby and of the second cousin of Jessie and Cassie Whitby. Gets confusing doesn’t it? The relationships are like this:

26-church-street-west-strong-chart

Four days after being named trustee (5/2/1898) McCallum sold the property to Robert Lawrence Walter Coxall (1877-1916). Coxall was the son of William Coxall (1842-1902), who we have seen in write-ups a few times before, notably with regard to the properties along the south side of North Street and with regard to commercial properties along the north side of King Street in downtown Colborne. Robert Coxall was also mentioned in the discussion of the Seaton House, having (I think) died there in 1916 to become one of the candidates for the Seaton House ghost. Both Coxalls were Colborne merchants. Robert was married to Emma May Cornwell (1877-?, married 1900), and as far as I can tell had no children.

Coxall and his wife sold Reid Lots 120 and 121 to Elizabeth B. Edwards (1870-?) on 4/3/1903. Elizabeth Edwards (née Lowe) was the wife of Colborne cooper William Henry Edwards (1869-1935, married 1892). His name, as “W. H. Edwards 1908”, appears on the façade of one of the buildings facing the east side of Victoria Park. I have found reference to a single child: Myrtle May (1893-?).

Reid Lots 120 and 121 were finally separated from each other on 4/3/1906 when Elizabeth Edwards sold Lot 120 (now the home of 24 Church Street West) to Colborne labourer Daniel Mickle (1849-1920), retaining Lot 121 for herself. She would keep it until 1939, when it passed to her daughter Myrtle, who would then own it until 1948.
(Robin, if you want me to extend this chronologically because of your personal interest in the property, I’d be happy to).

When was the house built and who built it? Who lived in it?

The picture at the end of this write-up, taken I think in the late 1850’s or in the 1860’s, looks west down Church Street West, with Sidney McDonald’s Colborne Hotel and the northwestern corner of the market square in the foreground. The cross street is Toronto Street. Unfortunately you can’t make out the house on Reid Lot 121. I think the first house in the photo beyond the planted field at the northwest corner of Toronto and Church is on Reid Lot 118. One of the roof peaks beyond it might be on Lot 121, but its impossible to be sure.

When Ozen Strong bought the property from Joseph Keeler in 1858 he paid £20 (the equivalent of $80). When it was transferred to the trusteeship of Thomas Scott in 1859, 5 shillings changed hands ($20). No money was involved in the transfer of trusteeship to Charles McCallum in 1898, but when Robert Coxall bought the property that same year, he paid $700. Five years later in 1903 Elizabeth Edwards paid $900. We can ignore the Strong to Scott and Scott to McCallum transfers because they weren’t regular purchases. This means that we have a jump from $80 to $700 between 1858 and 1898, which far exceeds the inflation rate of the period. The difference between $700 in 1898 and $900 in 1903 is much less significant. Of course, the 1858 sale from Keeler to Strong was between relatives, so the price might have been artificially low. Basically, these numbers don’t tell us anything definitive. The Keelers didn’t live on the property and I doubt they built the house there before 1858 (unless they did so as a rental unit). The Strong family might have built it sometime between 1858 and 1898, or if it was built after 1903, it was erected by the Edwards family.

I think it is likely the Edwards’s lived there; they were listed as residing on Church Street in the 1911 census. I have no evidence regarding who was in residence at other times.

1857 Keeler to Strong – L20
1858 Strong to Thomas – 5 shillings
1898 Thomas to McCallum —
1898 McCallum to Coxall – $700
1903 Coxall to Edwards – $900

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