5 Church Street East, Colborne

Roll No. 1411-012-010-27700 – Cramahe Township Ontario

Italianate Vernacular

Except for the enclosed vestibule and small upper porch, No. 5 Church Street East in Colborne is the twin of No. 5 North Street (Italianate). It sits in close proximity to other red brick Victorians in the very centre of the village of Colborne. These Victorians were probably among the first built when the village was incorporated in 1859.

No. 5 Church Street East has the tall, narrow profile of the classic Italianate style so popular in the mid 19th century. There are others in the township, including 57 King Street East, the “designated” property known as Seaton House.

Italianate is best characterized by elaborately decorated details on a relatively simple and plain form. No. 5 Church Street East, is red brick, with “S” brackets (painted out), but it does not have gingerbread or the ornamental cornice board found elsewhere. Like its sister houses, No. 5 Church Street East doesn’t have the cupola, wrap around porches or the tower seen in some of the more elaborate versions of Italianate, which perhaps reflects the modest affluence and restrained nature of the people of Upper Canada and/or the owner/builder.

There is a two story bay window (in the parlour and principal bedroom).All the windows are the tall and narrow rounded sash seen in most Italianates and they are the two over two pane windows of the era. The front door is off-centre, another common feature of Italianate houses, as distinct from the centre hall, double parlour Georgian design. No. 5 Church Street East has an elaborate enclosed vestibule with a small porch above and a hip roof with another small roof over the bay.

It sits in close proximity to other Victorian houses in the same view plane as the United Church (then Methodist) built first in 1823, enlarged in 1830 and finally in its current configuration in 1860.

History or Associative Value

See also #3 Church Street East.

In 1861 the Coltons lived in a frame house and since #3 and #5 are brick clad, it is obvious that the original houses are no longer standing. In 1867, J.E. McDonald and his wife Helen Meade Duncan bought #5 lot from the Colton’s. J. E. was a farmer (though not in Cramahe) and he was specifically an apple merchant and exporter as were so many of Colborne’s farmer merchants. The 1911 census recorded the birth of the McDonald twin boys, William & James, in 1903.

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information
5 Church Street, Colborne, Ontario
Cramahe Township, Concession 2, Lot 31, Reid Lot 81

The first settlers in Cramahe Township arrived from Rutland, Vermont, in 1793 under the leadership of Joseph Keeler (1763-1839). Among the early settlers were George Asahel (1761-1833) and Hannah (1765-1832) Palmer (LINK). On their arrival, the Palmers took possession of the 200 acres of land in Concession 2, Lot 31. This land was officially deeded to George Palmer by the Crown on 15 July 1802.

Palmer sold his 200 acres to Joseph Keeler on 18 January 1812, on the same day buying from Keeler 150 acres in Concession 1, Lot 30, just to the south and one lot east of the property they sold. Basically, Palmer and Keeler appear to have simply exchanged the two properties.

Joseph Keeler transferred the “front part” of Lot 31 to his son Joseph Abbott Keeler (1788-1855) (LINK) on 15 January 1824. On acquiring the land from his father, Joseph A. Keeler proceeded to subdivide it, selling, among other properties, the land that would later be designated Reid Lot 81.

Numbers 3 and 5 Church Street are both on this land, which Joseph Abbott Keeler sold to William Colton on 16 August 1845. William Henry Colton (1809-1882) was born in Jefferson County, New York, and married Maria Dame (1821-1887) from Belleville in 1837. His profession is listed in censuses variously as farmer, merchant, gentleman, and magistrate. His death certificate in 1882 recorded him as a “justice of the peace”.

William Henry Colton was the eldest surviving son of William Colton (1785-1862) and Hannah Dorwin (1788-1863), who had 11 other children between 1808 and 1831, all born in the United States. William and Hannah appear in the 1851 and 1861 Cramahe censuses, so apparently they moved to Canada to live near their son and his family. The census entries for William and his parents are not adjacent to each other, so it looks like they lived in separate residences.

No genealogy for William and Maria Colton is available, but the children listed in censuses are William Wallace (1839-1888, apparently called “Wallace” at least as a child), Marshall Henry (1844-1911), and Helen (1856-?, “Nellie” as a child). William Henry Colton was actually resident on Lot 81 in 1859 and his wife and all three of his children were living with him in 1861. Given these facts, it is probable that lived there throughout the time they owned the property (although unfortunately there is no proof of this). Wallace and Marshall were 6 and 1 years old when their father bought Lot 81 from Joseph Abbott Keeler, and Nellie was probably born there.

Wallace probably moved out when he married Diantha Finton (1840-?) of Grafton in 1862; by 1871 he and Diantha were living in Picton. Marshall married Emma Eliza Crandell (1846-1922; “Eliza” in census entries) in 1864. They continued to live in Colborne, but not with Marshall’s parents on Reid Lot 81 because the censuses after 1871 list them separately. I don’t know where Marshall and Eliza lived. Marshall owned no other land in the area until he purchased property in Concession 2, Lot 27 in 1881, so he must have lived on property owned by someone else. This someone else was probably Eliza’s father Reuben Crandell (1816-1903), because the 1871 census lists Marshall and Eliza immediately after Reuben, who at one time or another owned much of Lot 29, Concession 2. Nellie married T. Grant McKay (1851-?), a merchant from Chatham, in 1880.

As of 1861, the Coltons lived in a frame house. Both 3 and 5 Church Street are made of brick, so the house in which they were living in 1861 is no longer standing and both of the present houses are post-1861. Unless, of course, the bricks are a façade over the older frame house.

William Henry Colton died of “valvular dysfunction of the heart” in Colborne on 19 August 1882, and the property passed into the hands of his son Marshall, a farmer by profession. Marshall was already ensconced elsewhere, probably in Lot 27 or Lot 29, Concession 2, and there is no evidence he ever lived on Reid Lot 81 after the death of his father. On 9 December 1896 Marshall sold the western half of the property (now 3 Church Street) to Joseph Hinds (1825-1898) and the eastern half (now 5 Church Street) to Joseph E. McDonald (1866-?). Marshall died of “bronchial asthma” in 1911.

Joseph E. McDonald purchased the lot now numbered 5 Church Street from Marshall Colton on 9 December 1896. He married Helen Meade Duncan (1868-1935) in 1897 in Colborne. The McDonalds were living at 5 Church Street in 1911 and 1921, and it seems reasonable that to believe they lived there from the time of their marriage. The 1891 census has Joseph as a farmer somewhere in Cramahe Township, not in Colborne. Joseph and Helen had three sons, Duncan Alexander (1899-?), and William and James, who were both listed as 8 years old in the 1911 census, so they were probably twins (b. 1903). Joseph’s occupation was variously listed as farmer (1891), merchant (1897), fruit dealer (1901), and apple exporter (1911, 1921).


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