8 North Street, Colborne

(c. 1888)
Roll No. 1411-012-020-23100 – Cramahe Township Ontario

Classic Italianate – Designated

8 North Street is described in LACACs notice of intention to designate as “one of the most decorative Italianate examples in the village”. The house sits on original Keeler Crown land and it was still part of that parcel in 1854. Italianate architecture (1850 to 1890) is reminiscent of the architecture of the Tuscan country villas. The style evolved from the picturesque Regency’s earlier interest in Tuscan architecture and a desire to continue the classical style. The modest smaller houses of earlier settlers were replaced by large, highly decorated houses to coincide with society’s growing affluence. By 1860 Italianate had overtaken Gothic as the most popular house style in the United States. It also became very popular in Ontario at the time because stylistically, it echoed the earlier favorite – Regency. Italianate is best characterized by elaborately decorated details on a relatively simple and plain form.

The eleven room William Coxall house is comprised of the typical offset front door, a foyer with staircase, a half floor landing, living room/ parlour, dining room, library, kitchen and utility room. The second floor contains a front hall landing or snug, three bedrooms and a bathroom.

The foundation is rubble stone under the entire house with a full height wall under the brick portion of the house. The windows are the classic tall, narrow Italianate style and they retain their original multi-panes and outer storms in the main part of the house.

There is a handsome carriage house that is probably also 19th century, and the newer addition on the rear of the house is board and batten to match the carriage house. The upper and lower verandahs give the house its sturdy yet graceful style most often associated with the Italianate Victorians.

History or Associative Value

Originally part of the clergy reserve set aside in 1790s, farmed by Richard Ogden though the land still belonged to the Crown. In 1872 the property was sold to the Daily brothers, sons of a local grocer. Two years later they sold to George Gordon when one brother died of typhus. Gordon was a tinsmith and in 1888 he sold to William Coxall who ran a general store, and is credited with building the house. The house has changed hands many times but all have respected and preserved its architecture and history.

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information

8 North Street, Colborne, Ontario
Cramahe Township, Concession 1, Lot 31, Reid Lot 259

Lot 31, Concession 1, Cramahe Township, was originally set aside as a Clergy Reserves (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 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.

On 23 September 1854 Joseph A. Keeler transferred his 135 acres in Lot 31 to his son Joseph Keeler III (1824-1881) (LINK). Joseph Keeler and his wife Octavia (née Phillips, 1827-1899) mortgaged the property with the Commercial Bank of Canada on 29 March 1855.

The Commercial Bank failed in 1867 and its assets were taken over by the Merchants Bank of Canada. The Merchants Bank then proceeded to sell off parcels of land in Lot 31, Concession 1. On 13 May 1871 they sold Reid Plan lot 259 with other land to Nelson Joseph Dailey (1840-1928) and Napoleon Bonaparte Dailey (1845-1877). The Daileys were sons of Colborne grocer Daniel Dailey (1803-1889), and were themselves farmers. In 1871, Nelson farmed land in Concession 1, Lot 34, and Napoleon in Concession 1, Lot 33. Both of these lots are just a little to the west of Colborne, which extends west to include Lot 32.

On 8 January 1874 the Dailey brothers sold a third share of their interest in Lot 259 to George Nelson Gordon (1819-1880). Gordon was a tinsmith who moved to Colborne from Cobourg in around 1860. There are a couple of intriguing circumstantial hints about the connection between Gordon and the Daileys. There is a photograph on page 80 of “How Firm a Foundation” (Argyris 2000) showing a group of militiamen lined up in King Street sometime “prior to 1870”. In the background is a storefront labelled “G. N. Gordon” and immediately next door is one labelled “Cheap Groceries”. Was this Daniel Dailey’s grocery store? Also, marriage records for Nelson Dailey and for George Gordon’s son James Wilmot Gordon (1852-1941) are immediately adjacent to each other in Colborne records. So they were married on the same day in the same place. Finally, the Gordons and the Daileys appear sequentially in the 1872 census.

The Dailey brothers and George Gordon sold Lot 259, still “with other land”, to Alexander Dickson and Thomas Glover on 11 April 1877. Interestingly, this is only 16 days before Napoleon died of typhoid. Unfortunately, nothing has been found about Dickson or Glover. No one of either name appears in Cramahe censuses. There are references to a Thomas Glover in Brighton Township, but it is unclear if this is the same man.

Dickson and Glover and their wives sold Lot 259 with other land to Austin Dudley (1832-1902) on 22 June 1878. Dudley was a farmer who lived in Concession 5, Lot 18 in 1878. He sold Lot 259 to William Coxall (1842-1902) on 17 October 1888 and three years later immigrated with his family to Puget Sound, Washington.

The sale from Dudley to Coxall was the first one involving Reid Plan Lot 259 that is listed in the Land Record Office without the phrase “with other land”. Coxall paid $200 for it.

William Coxall ran a general store in Colborne

The next transaction occurred on 24 December 1889, when Coxall sold the lot to Elizabeth A. Philp (1868-?) for $1000. Elizabeth Philp was born Elizabeth Adeline Coxall, and is often referred to in records as “Lina”. She was William Coxall’s second daughter and married Percival Herbert Philp (1862-1938), the nephew of her mother’s first husband. He was a music teacher in Colborne in 1891, and later is listed as a “piano agent”. No record has been found for the date of their wedding, but Lina was only 21 when she acquired the property from her father, so maybe it had something to do with the marriage.

On 2 September 1902, Lina Philp sold the property for $1200 to George Sanderson (1835-1914), a retired farmer from Concession 2, Lot 34, just west of Colborne. He and his family are listed as residents of the property in the 1911 census. Sanderson died in 1914 after fighting chronic bronchitis for 10 years, so possibly had retired to Colborne in 1902 because of his lungs.

At 69 years old, Sanderson’s widow Nancy Eleanor (1846-?) remarried 84-year-old Daniel Lewis Simmons (1830-1915) on 12 January 1915 and 3 months later (5 April 1915) sold Lot 259 to George Peebles for $1200, presumably because she had moved in with her new husband and didn’t need the house any longer.

Simmons was variously listed in censuses through the years as a farmer, apple merchant, wood and lumber dealer, and exporter. He was still working at 80 years old in 1911 as an apple merchant. His marriage certificate lists his occupation as “gentleman”, so apparently he had retired by 1915. Sadly, Simmons died of “hermplegia” (an old word for hemiplegia, or partial paralysis—a stroke?) on 14 June 1915, after only six months of marriage.

Unfortunately, there seem to be three different men named George Peebles in Cramahe censuses. These are George Milton Peebles (1869-1921), a grocer in 1901 and an electrician in 1911; George J. Peebles (1874-?), a farmer; and George Peebles (1858-?), another farmer. All of these were of a feasible age (between 41 and 57 years old) at the time of the property transaction and all three lived inside the town limits of Colborne at some point between 1891 and 1911. The 58 year old farmer doesn’t seem to be in the 1911 census: his last entry is for 1901. The other two George Peebles’ were present in Cramahe in 1911. The only one that was a resident of Colborne in 1911 was the electrician.

However, the next transaction involved a sale of Lot 259 by Peebles and his wife in 1920. Electrician Peebles was 41 years old, unmarried, and living with his mother in 1911. Both farmer Georges had wives who were alive in 1915. The only George Peebles in the 1921 Cramahe census is the elder farmer. This might suggest that the owner of the property wasn’t the electrician or the younger farmer, but the reasoning is weak. Peebles was not resident in Colborne in either 1911 or 1921, but of course he might have owned the property without living there.

George Peebles (whoever he was) and his wife sold Lot 259 to Robert R. Joslin (1882-?) on 23 January 1920 for $2400. Robert Joslin was born in the USA and arrived in Canada in 1915. In 1921 he lived on North Street, Colborne, (presumably at number 8?), with his wife Mary and sister-in-law Clara. His occupation in 1921 was listed as “manager”.

The house supposedly was built in 1888. Until William Coxall bought the property in 1888 for $200, Lot 259 was included in land transactions as part of a package with other properties. There is no particular evidence that any of these earlier owners actually lived there. Unfortunately, the dollar amounts on previous transactions don’t provide any useful information because it is unknown what other lands were included or even if the package of properties remained constant. But note the jump in price from $200 to $1000 between Coxall’s purchase of Lot 259 alone and his sale of the property to his daughter a year later. It does indeed look like Coxall built the house either briefly for himself or for his soon-to-be-married daughter. However, Coxall bought the property in October of 1888 and sold it, presumably with its new house, in December of 1889. It’s just conjecture, but it seems that Coxall would more likely have waited until the Spring of 1889 to build the house than to have started work on it in mid-October the year before.


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