27 Percy Street, Colborne

(late 1800s)
Roll No. 1411-012-010-14700 – Cramahe Township Ontario

Italianate Vernacular

27 Percy Street in Colborne, is on a main street entering the village, also known as Big Apple Drive.

Many Italianates in this area of Ontario are built in red brick, but this one more closely resembles the “Painted Ladies” for which St. Francisco is so well known.

It has the hip roof, decorative brackets under the eaves, the tall, narrow windows that characterize the Italianate style though most of those are round head sash and this house has a decorative Tudor style trim along with matching shutters.

No. 27 is clad entirely in clapboard and has a one story “tail”.

The offset front door speaks again of the Italianate, and the front facade fenestration is flat with a lower “arcade” porch created by an upper story spindle porch. Many Italianates of the era and area have a two story three pane bay or bow window rather than the porch (see No. 5 North Street, No. 57 King Street East, l6 North Street). This property also has another door which gives access to the upper porch.

The windows have been replaced but probably would have been multi pane when the house was built. The decorative shutters on most of the windows are a most charming contrasting paint treatment.

There is a one story shed roof addition to the rear of the house and a garage in the rear.

History or Associative Value

In 1866, Irish immigrant Robert Leith (1812-1877) acquired Reid lots 60/61. He was a hotel proprietor (Marion Hotel or Mansion House Hotel) in Colborne in 1871. He married and had one son Robert Jr. Robert Sr’s will stipulated that his property would only go to Jr. if he could “conduct himself to the satisfaction” of the executors. Apparently he failed in this endeavour because the land was sold to Marietta McCullough in 1879. William Coxall (8 North St.) bought the property in 1896 and he probably built the house.

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information

27 Percy Street, Colborne, Ontario
Cramahe Township, Concession 2, Lot 32, Reid Lot 60

Nathaniel Gaffield (ca. 1755-ca. 1838) (LINK) was the first owner of Concession 2, Lot 32, a 200 acre parcel part of which would later become Reid Lot 60. 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) (LINK) on 23 January 1806.

Keeler transferred the southern third of Concession 2, Lot 32 to his son Joseph Abbott Keeler (1788-1855) (LINK) 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, and when he died that year what was left was inherited by his son Joseph Keeler III (1824-1881) (Link). Joseph Keeler III continued his father’s tradition of selling off sections of this property. On 6 March 1866 he sold Reid lots 60 and 61 to Robert Leith (ca. 1812-ca. 1877). There is very little information available about Leith (spelled “Leath” in censuses, so probably pronounced that way). He was an Irish immigrant and he was the proprietor of the Mansion House Hotel in Colborne in from at least 1857 through at least 1871. There was also a Robert Leith who managed the Enniskillen Hotel on King Street in Cobourg in 1851. This is probably the same person. Leith was married to Elizabeth Ann (last name unknown; ca. 1822-ca. 1878) and they had a son, also named Robert (ca. 1849-?), who was living with his parents in Colborne in 1861, but not 1871.

William Leith of Caledonia, Haldimand Township, and John J. Campbell (ca. 1836-?) and Richard Gibson (ca. 1837-?), both tanners and curriers in Colborne, were appointed as executor of Robert Leith’s will (dated 16 February 1878). There was a William Leith of Caledonia who was born in Enniskillen, Fermanagh, Ireland, in 1814, probably Robert Leith’s brother (note the similarity between William’s birthplace and the name of the hotel run by Robert in 1851). At first glance, this William would seem to have been the one who was executor of his brother’s will, but it turns out that he had died in 1873, so the executor must have been his son, another William Leith (1850-?). This seems even more likely when one notes that William Jr. was in the hotel business, just like his uncle.

According to his will Robert Leith’s property was supposed to go to his wife for the remainder of her life, and on her death to their son. The intriguing part of this was that there was a stipulation in the will that Robert Jr. had to “conduct himself to the satisfaction” of the executors for two years after his mother’s death in order to inherit the property. Frustratingly, the Land Office document doesn’t elaborate. Robert Junior apparently was unable to live up to this requirement, because the executors sold Reid lots 60 and 61 to Marietta Forrester McCullough (1853-1931) on 15 June 1879. Marietta was the wife of printer Alfred Edward McCullough (1852-1917), who moved to Colborne from Markham, ON and married Marietta in 1874. Marietta’s maiden name was Spafford and she was a native of Cramahe. The McCulloughs had three children (Clarence, Lindley Murray, and Eliza), all born in Colborne (in 1874, 1877, and 1879, respectively). Later censuses list a Claude McCullough as one of the children. Clarence is absent from these censuses, so they were probably one and the same person. Their birthdates were roughly similar and Clarence survived to appear on a marriage document later on.

Alfred and Marietta McCullough sold lots 60 and 61 to Ambrose Male (1811-1883) on 11 November 1880 and moved to Cobourg, where they appeared in the 1881 census.

Ambrose Male was a farmer who emigrated from Somerset, England and married Charity Mix (1812-1894) some time before 1832. Charity Mix was a granddaughter of Nathaniel Gaffield and was a native of Cramahe. The Males had six children: Rachel (b. 1832), Maria (b. 1840), Ambrose (b. 1841), John (b. 1841), Job (b. 1844), and Charles H. (b. 1849). All of these were grown long before their father bought Lots 60 and 61 in 1880.

Ambrose Male died in 1883 and the property was inherited by his wife Charity. When Charity in turn died in 1894, it passed into the hands of her youngest son Charles H. Male (1849-1932). Charles Male was a blacksmith. He married Louisa McDonald (1851-1933) in 1869 and had six children: Robert Livingston (b. 1869), George Wallace (b. 1872), Eva M. (b. 1874), Ronald McArthur (b. 1876), Charity Maude (b. 1885), and Florence Maye (b. 1887).

This is where the ownership history for Reid Lot 60 (now 27 Percy Street) diverges from Reid Lot 61 (now 29 Percy Street): Charles Male sold Lot 60 to William Coxall (1842-1902) on 30 May 1896, but retained Lot 61 until he sold it to Alice Brintnell in 1902. Coxall was born in England and first appeared in Cramahe censuses in 1881. He ran a general store in town from that time until his death. There were three Mrs. Coxalls: he married Elizabeth Gillespie (1845-1887) at Wolf Island, ON in 1865, Emily Bennett (1865-1893) in 1888, and Martha J. Strong (1845-1934) in 1898. He had two daughters with Elizabeth (Amelia Eliza, b. 1866; and Adeline E., b. 1869) and a daughter (Mary Gladys, b. 1889) and son (John Grover, b. 1893) with Emily. At the time he bought Reid Lot 60 he was without a wife, Emily having died 5 years before.

Coxall died of a chronic abscess in 1902, and Reid Lot 60 went to Frederick Arundel Philp (1857-1941) on 31 March 1903. Frederick Philp was a Colborne plasterer and brother of Percival Herbert Philp (1862-1938), the husband of Coxall’s second daughter Adeline (generally called “Lina”).

Frederick Philp was born in Cobourg and moved to Colborne sometime between 1861 and 1871. He married Elizabeth Ann Gilbert Munson (1859-1925) in 1886 in Bowmanville and had two children: Mary Edith (b. 1888) and Charles Cameron (b. 1891).
On 2 November 1905 the Philps sold Lot 60 to Wallace Wilmington Cochrane (1871-1905), who proceeded to die of typhoid on 29 December 1905 and leave the property to his wife Georgina Mence Bailey (1881-1960). She owned it until 1941. Wallace Cochrane was a Cramahe native and a first cousin of Joseph Cochrane, the postmaster who lived on King Street West. The Cochranes had a single son: William Arthur, born in 1905 (which appears to have been a fateful year for the Cochrane family). Oddly, no census lists an occupation for Wallace Cochrane. In 1881 he was living with his parents and in 1891 and 1901 he was living with his brother Albert and Albert’s family. Both censuses listed Albert as a farmer, but nothing for Wallace.

The age of the house? Joseph Keeler sold Reid Lots 60 and 61 to Robert Leith for $180 in 1866, and it passed from the Leith family to Marietta McCullough in 1879 for $925. This more than 5-fold increase certainly suggests that some improvement (a house?) happened in the intervening years. McCullough sold the property to Ambrose Male in 1880 for $900 and Charles Male got it from his mother’s estate for $485 in 1894. Certainly no indication of improvement in that time. Interestingly, William Coxall bought Reid Lot 60 for only $150 in 1896. This suggests that there was no house there at the time and that if the increase in price of the combined Reid lots during the Leith years may have resulted from a house built on Lot 61, which no longer exists. Coxall would then have bought the unoccupied half of Charles Male’s property. Frederick Philp got Lot 60 from Coxall’s estate in 1903 for $640, a 4-fold jump in price that might suggest the construction of a house. Philp sold the property in 1905 to Wallace Cochrane for $1100, twice the amount he had bought it for. If price increases indicate house construction, it is more likely that Coxall built the house sometime between 1896 and 1903 than that Philp built it between 1903 and 1905. Philp may have doubled his money because he got the property at below its market value when he got it from the estate of a family member (his brother’s father-in-law).

Who lived there? William Coxall may have built the house, but he also owned other properties in town, so it is unknown if he lived there. Probably not because when he died in 1902, his address was on North Street. On the other hand, there is no reason to think that Frederick Philp lived elsewhere. He owned no other property in town except that he expanded his lot on Percy Street in 1904 by buying Reid Lot 59, immediately south of Lot 60. Although he sold Lot 60 in 1905, he retained lot 59 until 1935. Wallace Cochrane probably lived in the house: when he died his address was listed as Percy Street.

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