54 King Street East, Colborne

(c. 1870s)
Roll No. 1411-012-020-10200 – Cramahe Township Ontario

Ontario Farmhouse

The property at 54 King Street East in the village of Colborne appears in the 1878 Durham and Northumberland historical Atlas (pg. 95 to the East of No. 52 King St.E or left of the picture). It does not have its own Atlas entry, but because of its close physical proximity to No. 52 next door, which was featured in the Atlas, it is possible to date it and see the changes over the last approximately 140 years.

No. 52, residence of L.C. Bailey, dwarfed the house next door, in fact one wonders if No. 54 was a staff house or served the “big house” in some other capacity.

No. 54 is much the same mass and features as it was originally built but the embellishment and cladding have changed.

Like the house next door it appears that the house has been the victim of the widening of No. 2 Highway or installation of sidewalks, which has left it with only a sliver of front lawn.

In the Atlas, No. 54 looks as if it might have been vertical board and batten originally. Today it has horizontal vinyl cladding. Originally it had extensive and very attractive bargeboard in the front peak and a small, simple enclosed vestibule which contrasted with the fancy one next door. That vestibule remains exactly the same today. As do the tudor shaped hood moldings over the windows, clearly visible in the Atlas. The porch on the East side of the front facade was probably not part of the original build as it doesn’t appear in the picture.

More than one 19th and early 20th century fires decimated the south side of the village main street and but the houses to the East of Victoria Street, were some of the few buildings spared.

History or Associative Value

Number 52 King Street East in Colborne was the residence of Levi. C. Bailey and his wife Mary, a prominent Merchant in the mid 1800s. Census records show that he was the proprietor of L. C. Bailey and Sons soap manufacturing and also a general store in the village. Although we can only speculate, No. 54 might have been a home for the caretaker or steward of No. 52 given the extreme proximity of the two properties and the grandeur of No. 52 in a bygone era. (see pg. 95 of the Northumberland Atlas)

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information

Lot 31, Concession 1, Cramahe Township, was originally set aside as a Clergy Reserve (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 of 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. Keeler passed most of his properties, including Reid Lot 230, to his son Joseph Keeler III (1824-1881) on 23 September 1854.
Joseph Keeler sold Lot 230 to the Bank of Montreal on 14 January 1858. The Bank sold it to George Nelson Gordon (1819-1880) on 21 December 1866. Gordon was a tinsmith who at various times owned numerous other properties in Colborne.

George Gordon sold the southern part of Lot 230 (where 3 and 5 Victoria Street now stand) to the Corporation of Colborne on 5 November 1870 and the northern half (now 52 and 54 King Street) to Agnes Rosevear (1834-1878) on 14 December 1874. Agnes (née Crawford) was the second wife of Ephraim Rosevear (1834-1905), who was listed as a schoolteacher in the 1871 Haldimand Township census and as a merchant in the record of his third marriage near Orangeville in 1880. Land office records indicate that Ephraim and Agnes were residents of Colborne in 1874 and 1876. Ephraim was listed simply as a “gentleman” in both records. Two children were listed in the Haldimand census of 1871: Willie (ca. 1859-?) and Mary (ca. 1861-?).

On 18 March 1876 Agnes Rosevear and her husband sold their part Lot 230 to Levi Catlin Bailey (1830-1905). The Corporation of Colborne would sell him the rest of the Lot on 27 May 1892. Bailey arrived in Colborne from Prince Edward County sometime in the 1870s. He was the proprietor of L. C. Bailey and Sons, soap manufacturers. He was married to (ca. 1834-?) and had six children: James E. (ca. 1853-?), Emma Jane (1856-1938), Frederick R. (ca. 1860-?), Irving Thomas (ca. 1862-?), William Levi (1865-1920), and Charles L. (ca. 1873-?).

When Levi Bailey died in 1905, Lot 230 was divided between his sons Irving, who inherited Levi’s house on the western half of the Lot (now 52 King Street), and William, who inherited the house he was already living in on the eastern half (now 54 King Street). Irving and William would continue to own these properties through the 1921 cut-off date. Both were involved with their father in the L. C. Bailey and Sons soap manufacturing company. No reference has been found to Irving’s wife, but the 1901 census lists a son, also called Irving (ca. 1891-?). William was married to Jennie Simmons (ca. 1871-?), a niece of Daniel Lewis Simmons, and had two children: Pauline (1894-1894) and Bruce Lionel (1897-?).

There is often a bit of guesswork involved in determining occupancy of historical houses. In this case, however, there is solid evidence for who lived in the house at 52 King Street, because the following picture appears in the 1878 Northumberland County atlas:


The caption reads: “Res. of L. C. Bailey. Cor. King, & Victoria Sts., Colborne, Ont.” Obviously, Levi C. Bailey lived there in 1878. Maybe that is even him sitting on the front porch. (I also like what looks like an image of someone almost being run down by a carriage in the lower right corner of the picture…). He bought the property in 1876. Whether he bought the house or built it sometime between 1876 and 1878 is unclear. He certainly lived there the rest of his life. The house to the left is the one now at 54 King Street, occupied by William Levi Bailey.


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