Strabane – 344 Kelly Drive, Castleton

(c. 1871)
Roll No. 1411-011-050-23000 – Cramahe Township Ontario

Gothic Revival Farmhouse – Designated

Strabane is an updated two story solid brick Gothic Revival vernacular style farmhouse, estimated to have been built about 1871. It is located in the extreme north central section of the township on 250 acres of the rolling Northumberland Hills East of Castleton ON.

Strabane was named by the family that saved the house from demolition in the 1960’s. They spent years restoring the house to its former glory and they named it after the second largest town in West County Tyrone, Northern Ireland which is the ancestral home of the Leckey clan.

The house is a typical Ontario farmhouse, augmented by a two story palladian windowed sunroom on the front facade rather than the more common open porch. The gables have a Gothic overtone but are not as extreme as many of the Gothic featured properties (see Purdy Mill house in Castleton).

The house has large, airy rooms with a massive chimney in the front principal gable section. It has a cross gable roof with a back section housing the kitchen and great room. The windows are two over two pane with dichromatic arched brick eyebrows which match the buff coloured corner quoins. There is a massive stone fireplace in the rear great room which adds to the charm and warmth of the house.

The views from any part of the house are inspirational as one would imagine given its very private 250 acres.

There is a very modest, plain fretboard treatment in the peak of the gables and it can be plainly seen in a picture of the house which was waiting for demolition in 1962. There is lovely iron fretwork over the sunroom roof. This house has been lovingly restored and it shows.

History or Associative Value

The property now known as “Strabane” has had two principal owners from 1869-1961 by various of the Kelly clan (one of the township’s founding families) and thereafter by the Leckeys from 1962 to present. The property was known as the Elijah Johnson Farm and the ruins of the original cabin stand on the property to this day. In 2008, the Leckeys pursued conservation status for 177.7 of their 250 acres, through the Northumberland Land Trust, to ensure the land will remain pristine forever.

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information

344 Kelly Drive, Castleton, Ontario Cramahe Township, Concession 9, Lot 29

On 15 September 1803 the Crown granted William McKenzie (?-?) the 200 acres in Concession 9, Lot 29 of Cramahe Township. His is a reasonably common Scottish name, so finding any further information about this specific William McKenzie has not been possible. Unfortunately he wasn’t William Lyon Mackenzie. That would have been a nice connection with Upper Canada history.

On 30 August 1822 McKenzie, at this time a resident of Marysburgh Township in Prince Edward County, sold the property to the estate of Samuel Williams (1767-1822) of Hallowell Township, also in Prince Edward County. The executors of Williams’ estate were his widow Jemima (née Platt, 1776-1853) and sons John Platt Williams (1795-1861) and Caleb Williams (1797-1870). There is no evidence that any of these people were ever residents of Cramahe Township.

Jemima, John, and Caleb Williams sold the 200 acres to Cornelius Vanwicklin (1797-1851) on 18 January 1841. Vanwicklin was a resident of Cramahe Township, though not necessarily of Lot 29, Concession 9. He owned other properties as well.

Vanwicklin sold the Lot to James D. Goslee (1794-1865) on 22 December 1846. Goslee was a prominent businessman in early Colborne history and was involved in land speculation throughout Cramahe Township.

Goslee sold the eastern half of Lot 29 to farmer Elnathan Alger (1814-1868) on 17 September 1853. Again, it is not clear whether Alger ever lived on the property: he also owned numerous other blocks of land in the Township.

Elnathan Alger died in 1868. His heirs sold the southeastern part of Lot 29 to Haldimand Township farmer Richard Kelly (ca. 1821-1891) on 27 December 1869 (all land records spell his name “Kelley”). The house under discussion here was supposedly built around 1871. If this is true, it was built by Richard Kelly. Kelly is probably the first owner who actually occupied the land. Other occupants were his wife Ann McGrath (ca. 1821-1915) and their children John (ca. 1856-?), George (ca. 1857-?), Mary (1853-1887), William (ca. 1860-?), James Edward (1861-1937), and Charles (ca. 1864-?).

Richard Kelly willed this property to his wife Ann on 8 June 1891, with the stipulation that it would pass to their sons George and James on her death. This transaction was not recorded in the Land Records Office until 7 February 1900, and in the meantime George had passed his half share to Michael John Doyle (1838-1911), a resident of Colborne (and father of future Senator Iva Fallis, 1883-1956) on 9 April 1898 and Doyle had transferred this same interest to John Lawson Gerow (1821-1906) on 4 February 1899. Shortly after Richard Kelly’s will was recorded in the Land Records Office, elder brother John Kelly transferred ownership of the property to Frank Leslie Webb (1864-1937), Colborne attorney, on 12 September 1900.

This is all very confusing, but a record dated March 1902 includes Gerow and Webb along with Ann Kelly and all of her children as defendants in a lawsuit with the Trusts and Guarantee Company of Toronto. Since Gerow and Webb were working with the Kellys it appears that all of the convolutions outlined in the previous paragraph were probably somehow intended to keep the property in the Kelly family. It worked. The Kellys would remain owners until 1961.

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