28 Toronto Street, Colborne

(c.1890s)
Roll No. 1411-012-010-08200 – Cramahe Township Ontario

Folk Victorian

No. 28 Toronto Street in the village of Colborne bears a strong resemblance to No. 40 Church Street West, also in Colborne. It was probably built at the same time and possibly by the same builder.

Both are what is known as Folk Victorian. This style, which was prevalent from 1870 to 1910, began as an orderly, less elaborate version of the classic Victorian.

Initially these Folk Victorians were found in remote/rural areas, made of local materials with or without adornment. Later they became very popular and today can be found in rural areas and cities in every neighbourhood.

The floor plan is straight forward with a parlour in front, kitchen in back, and bedrooms upstairs.

The classic Folk Victorian has a tall, square symmetrical shape with a front gable and a side wing which gives it an “L” shape. It has a cross gable roof and a front porch with spindles and gingerbread and sometimes flat jigsaw trim.

Some properties of this style have a three panel oriel window (on the upper floor level) in the Gothic Style and many others have ground floor three pane bay or bow windows as this one does.

This particular house has newer windows, which were probably two over two pane originally. There is a small enclosed vestibule around the kitchen door. The tudor shaped faux hood molds give the house a charming decorated look without the usual gingerbread.

There is a “double L” section on the rear of the house which is possibly an expanded kitchen built at a later date.

These Folk Victorians mix, longevity, functionality with a lot of charm.

History or Associative Value

This property went from Nathaniel Gaffield to Old Joe Keeler in 1806. It was transferred down through the Keeler clan before being sold to Daniel Lewis Simmons in 1877. He was a lumber dealer, fruit exporter and farmer and, judging from the number of land transactions in which he was implicated, a land speculator. in 1905 Henry Gale bought the property when he moved to Colborne and bought The Northumberland Express newspaper. He lived there until his death in 1937.

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information

28 Toronto Street, Colborne Ontario

Cramahe Township, Concession 2, Lot 32, Reid Lot 88 Nathaniel Gaffield (ca. 1755-ca. 1838) was the first owner of Concession 2, Lot 32, a 200 acre parcel part of which would later become Reid Lot 88. To read more about Nathaniel Gaffield, … (LINK). 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) on 23 January 1806. For more on the Keeler family… (LINK).

Keeler transferred the southern third of Concession 2, Lot 32 to his son Joseph Abbott Keeler (1788-1855) 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. On 28 September 1854 he transferred most of what was left of his property in this area to his son Joseph Keeler III (1824-1881).

Joseph Keeler III continued his father’s tradition of selling off lots. Reid Lots 88 and 89 at the corner of Toronto Street and Norton Lane went to his daughter Anna Sybilla Keeler (1854-1887) on 1 September 1875. Three months later (25 December 1875) Anna married John James Newton Parry Boyer (1861-1893). The Boyers would eventually have three children (Mary Frothingham, 1878-1954; Ruth 1880-1948; and Octavia, 1882-?), but none of them had arrived before their parents sold Lots 88 and 89 to Daniel Lewis Simmons (1830-1915) on 6 September 1877.

Simmons was listed in various sources as a wood and lumber dealer (1870), a fruit dealer/exporter (1881- 1911), and a farmer (1901, 1911). He married Eliza Ann Webb (1830-1914) in 1860. After she died of heart failure following a paralytic stroke, he remarried in 1915 to Nancy Eleanor Sanderson (née Greenway, 1846-1933), the widow of George Sanderson (1834-1914). When they were married, Daniel was 85 and Nancy was 69. Daniel and Eliza Simmons had a single daughter, Lena Estella (1861-1869), who died when she was eight years old. Some time prior to 1881 they adopted Annie Eliza Bader (1870-1926), thereafter known as Annie Eliza Simmons. Apart from the occupations listed above, Simmons seems to have had a lot of real estate dealings in the Colborne area, including the transaction under discussion here.

On 2 June 1881 Simmons transferred Lots 88 and 89 to James Craick (1825-1912) and William Johnson (?-?). These gentlemen were Port Hope merchants who had been made trustees under a marriage settlement made by Thomas Wallace Cumming (1846-1880) and Daniel Lewis in contemplation of a marriage between Cumming and Martha Helena Maybee (1847-1882), which had occurred in 1873. It is unclear what this marriage had to do with Reid Lots 88 and 89, especially given the fact that Cumming had been dead for over a year when Craick and Johnson became involved with the properties.

Craick and Johnson retained control over the properties until 27 March 1901 when Reid Lot 89 and an adjacent bit of Lot 88 went to Alice Louisa Cumming (1879-?) and the remainder of Lot 88 went to Ina McMurray Johns (1880-?). These were the two surviving daughters of Thomas and Martha Cumming. Ina was married electrician Bartholomew Johns (ca. 1877-?) of Rossland, British Columbia. Alice was unmarried and still living in Colborne. 30 Toronto Street stands on the land that went to Alice Cumming and 28 Toronto Street stands on the land that went to Ina Johns.

On 11 February 1902 Ina Johns transferred her part of Reid Lot 88 to her sister, so that Alice again owned all of both lots 88 and 89. By 26 August 1905, when she sold the southern part of her property (the part that she had received from her sister) to Henry Gale (1856-1936), she had moved to Port Hope. Henry Gale was Uncle Henry’s full name in the Wizard of Oz, which was published just five years before Gale purchased property in Colborne. However, there is no evidence that the Colborne Henry Gale ever lived in Kansas and the Colborne Gale was married to Sarah Finley (1855-?) rather than to “Em”, so he must have been a different man.

Henry Gale and Sarah Finley had three children: Ruby Powell (1883-?), James Hartty (1885-?), and Stella May (1886-?). He was a printer and publisher, having moved to Colborne in 1888 and purchased the Northumberland Express. He held the southern part of Reid Lot 88 until his death of stomach cancer in 1937.

Anna Sybilla Keeler got Lots 88 and 89 from her father for $1 in 1875.

She and her husband sold them to Daniel Simmons in 1877 for $370. The Lots then passed into the trusteeship of Craick and Johnson in 1881 and finally returned, in 2 parts, to Alice Cumming and Ina Johns in 1901. Both of them paid $1. Alice paid her sister $1000 for her half in 1902. Finally, Henry Gale paid $1000 for that same half in 1905. This suggests that there was probably no house present before 1877. Since $1000 was paid in 1902 for only part of the land that had cost Daniel Simmons $375 in 1877, it looks as if the house was probably there by then. If true, the house was built by Daniel Simmons or it was built while the property was under the trusteeship of Craick and Johnson. It isn’t likely that Ina Johns had it built during her brief tenure as owner, especially since it appears that she was a resident of British Columbia at the time.

Occupancy is also unclear. Daniel Simmons lived in a house on King Street East. Craick and Johnson were residents of Port Hope. Some member or members of the Cumming family could have lived there during the Craick/Johnson period, since those gentlemen seem to have been holding it as trustees for that family. Both Ina Johns and Alice Cumming owned property elsewhere in town, so it is uncertain where they lived. The only resident we can be sure of was Henry Gale. His residency in the house at 28 Toronto Street is explicitly mentioned by Argyris (2000) and he is listed in the 1911 census as a resident of 88 Toronto Street. He was still a resident of Toronto Street in the 1921 census and at the time of his death in 1937.

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