3 North Street, Colborne

(c.1860-1880s)
Roll No. 1411-012-020-22000 – Cramahe Township Ontario

Ontario Farmhouse Vernacular

No. 3 is one of the “grand old ladies” of North Street, in the village of Colborne. The township has many of these sturdy Victorians all built in the mid to late 1800s by affluent merchants and professionals. Colborne was the “Capital” or principal village in the township in that era.

The current owner of 3 North Street spent considerable time, effort and funds restoring the exterior in the late 1990s because of its painted and deteriorated condition. In particular, they restored the buff coloured brick corner quoins which, though common in Victorian houses of that era, are relatively uncommon in the township.

Though the house has the characteristics of a number of architectural styles, it is primarily a classic Victorian two story with Italianate windows, some of which have buff coloured brick arches.

There is a large enclosed sunporch on the front facade’s upper level and another open porch on the lower level.

There is a single story three pane bay window at ground level in the gable wing.

There is little decorative bargeboard (gingerbread) or brackets sported by its neighbours and common to Italianate houses. Its mass and setting give it a formal look.

No. 3 is a very large rectangular full two story brick with a small brick addition on the back. This speaks to the affluence of the builder/ owner as many of these houses are square footprint with a rear single story “tail”, in wood cladding or board and batten.

No. 3 is an imposing brick house on a street with a number of others of a similar size and presence. The mature trees and gardens of North Street combine to make it one of the nicest in the village, recalling an era long past.

History or Associative Value

20 February 1867 this property was sold to Allan Taylor Maybee a Colborne merchant married to a granddaughter of Joseph Abbott Keeler. (A street is named after Maybee). The build date is an approximation based on two mortgages taken on the property in 1868 and again in 1871 as well as the age of the other Victorian properties in the area. Minakers, Conklins and Coyles (The Coyle Block) owned the property at one time or another but the record is not clear on who actually occupied the house over the years.

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information

3 North Street, Colborne, Ontario
Cramahe Township, Concession 1, Lot 31, Reid Lot 251

3 North Street is made up primarily of Reid Lot 251, with the addition of little strips along its western edge from Lots 253 and 254. The house is almost certainly on Lot 251.

Lot 31, Concession 1, Cramahe Township, was originally set aside as a Clergy Reserves (LINK). Although roads didn’t exist when the lot was surveyed, it consisted of the 200 acres now bounded by on the north by King St., on the west by Division St., and on the east by Elgin St. The southern boundary is now in the middle of the Ogden Point quarry. This clergy reserve included much what was to become the southern part of modern-day Colborne.

Although the Clergy reserve system wasn’t to end until 1854, the northern half of Lot 31, including all of the land in the reserve that is now part of Colborne, was granted by the Crown to Joseph Abbott Keeler (1788-1855) (LINK) on 12 April 1842.

On 23 September 1854 Joseph A. Keeler transferred his 135 acres in Lot 31 to his son Joseph Keeler III (1824-1881) (LINK). Joseph Keeler and his wife Octavia (née Phillips, 1827-1899) mortgaged the property with the Commercial Bank of Canada on 29 March 1855.

The Commercial Bank failed in 1867 and its assets were taken over by the Merchants Bank of Canada. The Merchants Bank then proceeded to sell off parcels of land in Lot 31, Concession 1. On 20 February 1867, they sold Lot 251 to Allan Taylor Maybee (1812-1886), a Colborne merchant who was married to Clarissa Lucretia Dewey (ca. 1818-1875), granddaughter of the first Joseph Keeler and Joseph Abbott Keeler’s niece.

Maybee mortgaged the property in 1868 and again in 1871. The next recorded transaction was a sale by Addison Vars (1826-1881) to Calvin Minaker (1843-1916) on 10 July 1876. Vars was designated in the Land Records Office as “assignee”, so it appears that he was selling the property on behalf of one or both of the mortgage lenders. Vars was the Colborne village clerk in 1881, but whether this was true in 1876 is unclear. His occupation was “gentleman” in 1871. Calvin Minaker was a Cobourg merchant who never lived in Colborne. He had a Cramahe connection in that he was the second cousin of Cramahe farmer Isaac Minaker (1847-1916), but it is unknown if this relationship had anything to do with his purchasing property in Colborne.

Calvin Minaker sold the property to his elder brother David H. Minaker (1834-?) on 23 April 1877. Like his brother, David Minaker was a Cobourg merchant. Also like his brother, there is no evidence he ever lived in Colborne. Both brothers are listed in Cobourg in the 1871 and the 1881 censuses. Of course it is possible that one or both lived briefly in Colborne in the 1870’s, but it is unlikely. David was in Cobourg in 1878, right in the middle of the time he owned Lot 251.

David Minaker sold the Lot to William Conklin (1809-1894) on 25 September 1879. Conklin, a farmer, was the son of early Cramahe immigrant Joshua Conklin (1771-?), who arrived in the Township in 1802. William Conklin was 70 years old when he bought the property and was a resident of Colborne in 1881, so perhaps he retired to Lot 251 at that time.

Conklin sold Lot 251 to Benjamin H. Coyle (1867-1933) on 11 May 1893. From 1893 until 1906, the property remained in the Coyle family, passing from Benjamin to his brother John Coyle (1871-1916) on 12 April 1898 and then from John to John’s wife Sarah Coyle (née Lowe, 1872-1950) on 13 August 1900. Benjamin and John Coyle were two of the five sons of Robert S. Coyle (1845-?), who arrived in Cramahe between the late 1860’s and 1871 as a labourer and through time graduated to farmer, then to apple dealer. All five of his sons (Benjamin, Robert [1869-1930], John, James [1876-?], and David [1877-?]) were also apple dealers.

Sarah Coyle sold the property to Florence Euphemia Bradd (née Irish, 1853-?) on 16 November 1906. Florence Bradd was the widow of James William Bradd (1853-1898), yet another Colborne apple dealer. She owned the property for 5 years, selling it on 28 March 1911 to Robert Waddingham Martin (1885-1927), a Colborne butcher. Bradd then moved to Regina, Saskatchewan, with two of her sons.

Martin continued to own the property beyond 1921 (he gave it to his daughter Bertha in 1922).

When was the house built, and who lived in it? There is no direct record of occupants of Lot 251, but Florence Bradd is listed in the 1911 census as living at “215 North”, which doesn’t exist. This is surely a mistranscription of “251 North”.

The money that changed hands in transactions involving this property doesn’t give a clear-cut idea of when the house was built, partly because all transactions involve “other lands” as well as Lot 251, so we don’t know if one dollar amount is more than the previous one because a house was built or because the “other lands” were more extensive. If we assume for the moment that these other lands don’t play a significant role in determining dollar amounts, the prices for lot 251 were as follows:

1876, Vars to Minaker, $15
1877, Minaker to Minaker, $100
1879, Minaker to Conklin, $500
1893, Conklin to Coyle, $1300
1898, Coyle to Coyle, $1500
1900, Coyle to Coyle, $1500
1906, Coyle to Bradd, $2800
1911, Bradd to Martin, $2200

There is a significant jump from $500 to $1300 while Conklin owned the property, and another from $1500 to $2800 during the Coyle tenure. Either of these might have been the result of the house being built. Also, the very first mortgage recorded in the Land Registry records was one of $3000 by Allan Maybee in 1868. If the house dates to the 1860’s or early 1870’s, the builder was probably Allan Maybee. If it dates to the late 1870’s to the early 1890’s, it was probably William Conklin. If to the 1890’s or early 1900’s, it was probably built by one of the Coyles. It is doubtful that either of the Minaker brothers, who owned the property between Maybee and Conklin, built the house, because they didn’t live in Colborne. Bradd sold the property for less than she had paid for it, so it is doubtful that she built the house.

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