57 Division Street, Colborne

(mid to late 1800s)
Roll No. 1411-012-020-26400 – Cramahe Township Ontario

Ontario Farmhouse

The Ontario Farmhouse is a very common architectural style in Northumberland County. The familiar two story, gable end with “L” shaped double window wing (the Folk Victorians have a single window length wing) can be found in these family houses whether they are in the ubiquitous red brick of the area, wooden clapboard, stucco, stone, or board and batten. Some have steep Gothic peaks with an assortment of embellishment such as bargeboard, arcade porches, decorative brackets, transom and door sidelights and shutters.

57 Division Street is on the corner of Arthur Street in the village of Colborne and it is a clapboard Ontario Farmhouse (though the clapboard may not be original to the house). It has a cross gable roof, tall slender two over two pane symmetrically placed windows, a front porch, and a three panel bay window at ground level. There is a two story (possibly one and a half story rear “tail”housing the kitchen and more bedrooms. This property is a much more restrained farmhouse design than those “typical” versions described here. It is completely free of adornment other than the contrasting paint treatment.

History or Associative Value

Lawyer Simon H. Payne owned all the land on the South East side of Division Street which he divided into “Park Blocks” L,M,N,O,P. In 1873, he sold Block L , including today’s 57 Division Street, to Henry Smedley – an English mason with a family of 8. Smedley sold part of Block “L” to George and Jane Merriman in 1879, they held it for 39 years. 1917 Jane sold it to John T. Handley on George’s death. The Smedleys moved to BC in 1891 – the Merrimans probably acquired the property to build a family home.

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information

57 Division Street

The land along the eastern side of Division Street between Vale (which no longer exists, see above) and Earl Streets was divided into lots on the Reid Plan of 1862. However, apart from a couple at the corner of Earl and Division, none of these lots ever sold individually. Simon H. Payne purchased all of this property from the Merchants Bank on 9/15/1873 and divided the region into sections that were known as Park Blocks L, M, N, O, and P. 57 Division Street is at the southeastern corner of Park Block L at what is now the corner of Division and Arthur Streets. It should be in the trees on the eastern side of Division Street just beyond the Canadian Northern Ontario Railway line in the aerial photograph.

Simon H. Payne (1839-?) was a lawyer. I don’t think he ever lived on any of the Park Blocks. He sold Park Block L (which now incorporates 51 through 57 Division Street) to Henry Smedley (1843-1907) on 10/30/1873. Smedley was an Englishman. He married Sarah Jane Townsend (1846-1886) in England 1869 and had eight children: Maud Augusta (1872-?), Helena Sarah (1874-1938), Henry Arthur (1875-1897), Ida May (1877-1940), William Ernest (1878-1956), Edith M. (1880-1958), Charles Frederick (1881-1953), and Marian Theresa (1885-1964). Henry Smedley was a mason. He first appeared in Cramahe censuses in 1871, and sometime between 1881 and 1901 moved to British Columbia. I can’t find him in the 1891 censuses.

On 2/28/1877 Smedley transferred the property to James F. Peterson (1832-1878), who held it for less than a year, then transferred it back to Smedley on 12/22/1877. Peterson was a Colborne merchant who married Ann Hannah Thompson (1831-1870) in Ernesttown in 1869. He appeared in Cramahe censuses only in 1871. He died in Colborne in 1878 of “pulmonary pthisis” (=tuberculosis).

Henry Smedley sold the southern part of Park Lot L, known as Lot 11, to Jane Isabel Merriman (1852-1931) on 11/8/1879. I have discussed the Merrimans at length in another write- up, but Jane (née Casey) was the wife of Grand Trunk Railway station agent George Isaiah Merriman (1843-1917), to whom she transferred the ownership of the property on 12/4/1892. Jane inherited it back from George on his death of “fatty degeneration of the heart” in 1917. Jane then sold the property on 4/12/1918 to John T. Handley (?-?) of Toronto, about whom I can find no further information.

John Handley sold the property to Frederick R. McMurray (ca. 1879-?), a Colborne farmer, on 5/19/1921. McMurray married Marietta McDonald (ca. 1884-?) in Grafton 1903. I have seen birth records for two daughters, born in Colborne: Marjorie (1909-?) and Dorothy Madeline (1913-?). I have also seen an Ancestry.ca genealogy that lists (without birthdates) eight other children: Cora, Frederick, Helen, Lloyd, Ruth, Theodore, Velma, and Douglas Donald.

The Smedleys owned the whole of Park Block L from 1873 to 1879. They would own the rest of the lot for another seven years after they sold the section on which 57 Division Street now stands. George and Jane Merriman then owned the property for 39 years, followed by Handley, who was not a Colborne resident, who owned it for three. Finally, right at the end of our period in 1921, it was purchased by Fred McMurray (not of “My Three Sons” fame). The Merrimans were residents of Division Street in 1911, so I am sure that they lived in the house at number 57. Whether the Smedleys had lived there is less clear. They continued to hold the remainder of the Lot after selling the part on which the house stands, but I don’t know if they continued to live there. If they did, then they probably lived in another part of the lot. If they didn’t it is possible they also lived at number 57.

Once again, land prices: I don’t know how much Henry Smedley paid Simon Payne in 1873, but James Peterson paid Smedley $120 in 1877. When Peterson sold it back to the Smedleys a few months later for $300. Those transactions were for the whole of Park Block L. When Smedley sold just a fraction of the Block to Jane Merriman, she paid $1000. This may suggest that the house at 57 Division Street was built by Henry Smedley. If not, it was built by George and Jane Merriman.

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