5 Elgin Street N, Colborne

(c.1880s-1910)
Roll No. 1411-012-010-24900 – Cramahe Township Ontario

“T” Folk Victorian

The house at 5 Elgin Street (corner of Church Street East in the village of Colborne), is a “Folk Victorian”, an architectural style found throughout Cramahe township. The front facade is a gable-end and there is a wing – either “L” or “T” shaped. #5 Elgin’s rear section is a narrow “T” virtually flush with the house.

The Folk Victorian is often wooden clapboard or board and batten and examples of this architectural style range from no adornment to lots of embellishment. #5 is covered in painted, horizontal aluminum siding over the wooden clapboard underneath with delicate gingerbread in the gable peaks.

The Folk Victorian windows are usually tall and narrow which is a nod to the Italianate style common to this area. No. 5 Elgin Street has an enclosed porch or sunroom on the
South side, but because of the narrowness of the rear section, the vestibule/sunroom does not connect at the rear. Rather, there is a small stand alone shed roof extension in the narrow “T”.

This style of house often has a bay window at ground level in the gable- end but that is not the case with No. 5 Elgin St. Neither does it have the bay “Oriel” window above the ground sometimes found in Folk Victorians.

The windows are of a newer vintage and the house has a cross gable roof. It has a stone rubble foundation.

It sits on a corner at Elgin and Church Street East in the village at the peak of the Elgin Street hill, with a pleasant view over a very large piece of vacant land where the village’s Catholic church previously sat. (now demolished).

History or Associative Value

Church Street East began life as the South and West access lanes from the 1820 Keeler House at No. 9 Church Street East, prior to the building of the Methodist (today United) Church chapel in 1823. No. 5 Elgin’s main entrance faces Elgin Street but it is on the corner of Church Street East. The probable late 1800-early 1900s build date of this Folk Victorian and the fact that Church Street East did not meet what is now Elgin until 1906, means the house may have had open fields behind it for its first few years.

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information

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 Palmer (1761-1833) and his wife Hannah (1765-1832) (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. On 15 January 1824, Joseph Keeler transferred the southern 100 acres of Lot 31 to his son Joseph Abbott Keeler (1788-1855) (LINK).

On 23 March 1845, Keeler sold what would later be Reid Lot 174 to Hiram Merriman (1791-1862). Hiram Merriman was a cabinet maker, and was one of the sons of early Cramahe settler Joel Merriman (1760-1832). At the time, Merriman already owned Reid Lots 171 and 172 (LINKS), which front on King Street. In essence, Lot 174 fleshed out the back parts of these properties.

After Hiram Merriman’s death, the property was willed to his wife Nancy (née Rogers, 1802-?) on 22 April 1863.

When Nancy Merriman died (date unclear, possibly 1867), Reid Lots 171, 172, and 174 passed to her only surviving daughter, Mary Frances Merriman (1838-1877). Mary was unmarried when she inherited the property and was still unmarried when she sold most of Lots 171, 172, and 174, including the part of Lot 174 where 5 Elgin Street now stands, to Daniel Lewis Simmons (1830-1915) on 13 March 1874. She would eventually marry her first cousin Henry Isaiah Merriman (1850-1920) in 1875 and die two years later of heart disease.

Simmons was the grandson of early Cramahe settler Smiton Simmons (1769-1865). He is listed in various censuses as a wood and lumber dealer, farmer, exporter, and fruit dealer. At various times he owned properties all over Colborne.

It is pretty clear that the Merrimans did not live on the property at 5 Elgin Street. They undoubtedly lived instead in one of the houses on King Street in Lots 171 or 172; the property of interest here was just a back corner of their land at the time. Also, it is known that Simmons didn’t live there. He lived in the house now called 115 King Street East. Simmons owned the property at 5 Elgin Street until he sold it to John Henry Carter (1869-?) on 2 November 1903. This was just before the eastern end of Church Street East, which bounds the 5 Elgin Street property on the north, came into existence (hypothesized as 1906, LINK). Carter is listed in Colborne censuses for 1901, 1911, and 1921 and as being a resident of 174 Elgin Street in 1911, so he undoubtedly lived there. He was a stone mason. His wife was Margaret Lowe (1879-?) and his children were Elsie Marie (1906-?), Margaret Anna (1910-?), and Bruce William (1913-?). Also living with the family 1911 was servant Mary Jane Kemp (ca. 1899-?).

Whether the house was built by Carter in order to live there or by Simmons as a saleable property is unclear. Carter bought it for $400, which seem a little low for a property with a house on it in 1903.

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