45 Percy Street, Colborne

Roll No. 1411-012-010-15600 – Cramahe Township Ontario

Italianate Vernacular

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

This property is a sort of mirror image of 27 Percy Street several doors down the road, in that the offset door and consequently the layout is on the opposite side.

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

It has the hip roof, decorative brackets under the eaves, the tall, narrow windows that characterize the Italianate style. These windows are not round headed, rather they all have a Tudor shaped hood mold, which may have been the hallmark of a builder of that era, since there are a number of others in the village. It is clad entirely in clapboard and there is
a matching carriage house/garage in the rear of the property. The front porch and the carriage house have charming gingerbread trim.

The offset front door speaks again of the Italianate, and the front facade fenestration is flat with a lower level “arcade” porch. Many Italianates of the era and area have a two story three panel bay or bow window rather than the porch.

The windows are nine over nine pane which may be old but perhaps not original to the house and there is an unusual window on the north face. There are decorative shutters on most of the windows and an attractive contrasting paint treatment.

The foundation appears to be cement block which speaks to the era in which it was built, possibly the late
19th century, though there are a number of rubble foundations in the area that have been parged with cement, which could indicate an earlier build date.

History or Associative Value

From 1853, this property was owned by the families who built the village of Colborne, most of them in the trades. Oren Strong was a saddler and harness maker with 11 children! John Carter, a British born mason, acquired the property in 1859. Mathew Carter, his son, was a dry goods merchant and he sold to Reuben Walt in 1888. Raymond Walt, his son, was a farmer/egg buyer who was also the Township Clerk from 1895-1900. Olive Bell bought the property in 1901 with her carpenter husband James.

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information

45 Percy Street, Colborne, Ontario Cramahe Township, Concession 2, Lot 32, Reid Lot 12

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 12. 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.

On 1 June 1827 Joseph Keeler sold the northern half of Lot 31 and the northern 2/3 of Lot 32 to his son-in-law Ozem Strong (1786-1857). (LINK).

Ozem Strong sold Lot 12 to his son Oren Hartwell Strong (1810-1885) on 3 May 1853. Oren Strong was a saddler and harness maker by trade. He married Eliza Gould (1814-1896) in 1825 and had 11 children: Matilda Victoria (1837-1921), Warkham H. (1839-?), Clarissa Amelia (1841-?), Stuart B. (1842-?), Margaret M. (1843-?), Sophia E. (1844-?), Mary Eliza (1846-?), Hartwell (1847-?), Oren William (1850-1927), Charles H. (1852-?), and Bertha (1856-?). The first eight were born in Cramahe Township; the birthplace for Hartwell, Oren, and Charles was probably Cramahe as well, although records clearly indicating this have not been found. The Oren H. Strong family was listed in the 1851 Cramahe census, but was absent from every census starting with 1861. By 1870 they were in Illinois. They probably left Colborne about the time the sold Reid Lot 12 on 3 May 1859 to John Carter.

John Carter (ca. 1828-1862) was listed in the 1861 Colborne census. According to the census and to the Land Office record of his purchase of this property, he was a mason. The census indicates he was an Englishman by birth and 33 years old in 1861, making him born around 1828. Reid Lot 12 was sold to Reuben J. Walt on 4 May 1888 by Matthew John Carter (1858-1937), the son and only surviving heir of John Carter, who died in 1862. Matthew Carter was a Colborne dry goods merchant, so listed in gazetteers dated between 1882 and 1893, although for some reason he doesn’t seem to be included in the 1891 census. As of 1888 he was unmarried, but he moved to Lindsay by 1893 where he married Christina Stevens (1866-?).

Reuben J. Walt (ca. 1822-1904) appeared in three Cramahe censuses: 1851, 1891, and 1901. In 1861, 1871, and 1881 he was living in Murray Township, although he may have moved to Prince Edward County first, because his last child was born there in 1857. Likely he moved back to Colborne when he bought Reid Lot 12 in 1888. He remained in Cramahe for the rest of his life, dying of “senile decay” in Castleton in 1904. He married a woman named Rebecca (1829-1899) and had four children. With parents named Reuben and Rebecca, is it any wonder that the kids were Ryanna (1849-1921), Randall (1850-?), Raymond (1852-?), and Riley (1857-1899)?
On 22 November 1888, only six months after he purchased it, the property went to Reuben Walt’s second son Raymond, who had moved to Cramahe ahead of his father, being recorded in the 1881 census. He was also a farmer, although the 1901 census listed him as an egg buyer. He was also the Township Clerk from 1895 to 1900. He was still living in Murray Township when he married Henrietta I. Phillips (1860-?) there in 1879. There are references to two children: Winnifred (1890-?) and Georgiana B. (1897-?). It seems a little strange that their first child was born 11 years after they were married, though. By 1906 Raymond and family had moved to Edmonton.

Raymond Walt transferred the property back to his father on 1 October 1893. Reuben then held it until 25 March 1899 when he sold it to William Cockburn (1863-?), another farmer. Although there is a reference to his having been born in Hamilton Township, his parents were listed in Cramahe censuses in both 1861 and 1871. William continued to be listed in Cramahe through 1891. He was living in Haldimand Township when he sold Lot 12 in 1901. By 1911 he was in Prince Edward County. Cockburn married Jane Harvey (1861-?) in 1885. There were at least four children: George Francis (1888-?), Laura May (1888-?), Lala (1889-?), and Gladys (1898-?). Jane died sometime before 1902 because that year Cockburn married again, to Agnes Haig (1870-?) and had four more children, all born after he left Cramahe.

The next owner of Reid Lot 12 was Olive Bell (1852-1924), who bought it from William Cockburn on 2 November 1901. As usual with women in old records, there are no references to her other than as her husband’s wife and her father’s daughter. She was born Olive Dewey, but her father was born in Quebec, so apparently she was not related to the Deweys who lived in the Keeler-Campbell house. Olive married James Bell (1842-1922), a carpenter, in 1869. The Bells appeared in all Cramahe censuses after 1891. Before that they lived in Haldimand Township. They had four children: Winnifred (1880-1956), James A. (1882-?), Eva Myrtle (1884-?), and Nina Grace (1887-?). Olive died of a stroke in 1924, but long before that (25 February 1902) she had sold Reid Lot 12 to William A. Thompson.

William A. Thompson (1851-1920) is variously listed as a farmer, yeoman (i.e., farmer), and stonemason. The occupation on his death certificate is “real estate”. He was a Colborne native, and lived there most of his life (although he died, of parotid gland cancer, in Toronto). His wife was Annie Robbins (1856-1939), whom he married in 1878. They had five children: Ethel (1881-1974), Mabel Edna (1886-1968), Arthur Glenn (1891-1975), and Harry Eugene (1893-?).

0n 2 May 1911 William Thompson sold the property to Thomas Sterling McKibbon (1890-?), a Prince Edward County farmer who never lived in Cramahe. McKibbon sold it two months later (13 July 1911) to Catherine Evangeline McLean (ca. 1878-?), and Elizabeth Mary Florence McLean (1887-?), unmarried sisters. Elizabeth was employed as a teacher in 1911. They owned the property beyond 1921.

Who lived on the property? William Thompson definitely lived there: he is so listed in the 1911 census. It is pretty likely that John Carter, the Walts, and the McLean sisters lived there as well. William Cockburn and Olive Bell owned the property only briefly, but they were Colborne residents and owned no other property, so it is certainly possible that they were residents during their tenures as owners. Thomas McKibbon definitely did not live there. Oren H. Strong owned other properties in Colborne, so whether or not he lived on Lot 12 is unclear.

When was the house built? Land prices are as follows:

5/3/1853Oren H. Strong£25012 with other land
4/26/1859John Carter$10012
4/5/1888Reuben J. Walt (1)$50012
11/22/1888Raymond B. Walt$60012, part 11
10/1/1893Reuben J. Walt$60012, part 11
3/25/1899William Cockburn$60012, part 11
11/2/1901Olive Bell$10012, part 11
2/25/1902William A. Thompson$11512, part 11
5/2/1911Thomas S. McKibbon$400012, part 11 plus other land
7/13/1911Catherine E. McLean$200012, part 11 plus other land

There was a 500% jump in price from 1859 to 1888. The inflation rate over that period was only about 4%. The only other major jump in price (1911) is meaningless because the transaction involved additional properties. So if the house can be pinned down to prior to 1888, then John Carter probably built it. If not, these prices provide no useful information.

It is curious that William Cockburn sold the property at such a loss in 1901 (1/6 what he paid for it). No explanation is apparent.


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