91 Division Street, Colborne

(late 1800s)
Roll No. 1411-012-020-28600 – Cramahe Township Ontario

Victorian Era Duplex

No. 91 Division Street sits on a large lot, south of Earl Street in the village of Colborne. It is across Earl Street from the Pentacostal Church and is very close to the CN/CP railway line.

For over a century there was a large wooden clapboard apple packing and storage building in close proximity to the house, between the house and the rail line ( the storage building was demolished in 2013). The house appears to have been built as a duplex and it is currently a multi family house. It may have been built for the workers in the apple packing business, but that is just speculation.

This house has many of the features of a century home, including narrow wooden clapboard. The most notable is the balanced and symmetrical fenestration on the front facade and, in particular, the Victorian vestibule and the multi paned windows on the upper floor.

History or Associative Value

Other than a large apple storage building demolished in 2013, No. 91 Division Street is the last house next to the rail tracks, once owned by the Grand Trunk Railway, now by CN/CP. In the late 19th century various families owned the property, while census records indicate that others lived in it. Likely candidates for occupancy are Leonard Gill and James Thorne who, as telegraph operators, would have been employed in the nearby train station. In the mid 1800s, Colborne had no less than 3 rail stations.

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information

91 Division Street

91 Division Street is the last house as one goes south before the street is cut off by the property that used to be the Grand Trunk Railway station. It is on Reid Lot 357. This Lot, along with Lots 358-365, was purchased by Letitia Hart (ca. 1830-1889, née Batchelor) on 4/25/1863. Land Office records seem to spell her name “Leteah”. She was the wife of Edward Hart (ca. 1819-?), the proprietor of a hotel on Division Street at least from 1871 to 1885. What hotel would this have been? The Harts were natives of England. At one time or another they owned several properties along the northern edge of the Grand Trunk station, facing on Earl Street. I can’t find any further information about them. No Colborne census listed any children.

Letitia Hart died of heart disease and apoplexy in 1889, and the executor of her will was Thomas Hart (ca. 1816-1900) of Richmond, Quebec. I can only imagine that he was a relative (brother?) of her husband. On 6/9/1892 Hart sold the property to Martin H. Peterson (ca. 1855-?).

Martin Peterson was the son of Alexander F. Peterson, one-time owner of 27 Division Street (see above). In fact, he was the “and Son” in the “A. F. Peterson and Son” referred to in the discussion of that property. So he was part-owner of a general store in Colborne. He appeared in Colborne censuses only in 1881. By 1898 he was living in Toronto. He was still there on 6/2/1903 when he sold Reid Lot 357 to Edward R. C. Clarkson. I lose track of him after that: there are records of Martin H. Petersons in various places through the next several years, including Colborne in 1935, but I can’t be sure which of them refer to our Martin H. Peterson.

Edward Clarkson (1853-1931) was a Toronto accountant. He only held the property for 5 months, selling it to Harriet Coyle (ca. 1839-1915, née Williams) on 11/7/1903. I have written up the Coyle family elsewhere. Harriet passed the property on to her sons Robert J. Coyle (1869-1930) and John Coyle (1871-1916) on 3/10/1904 and Robert and John passed it on to Robert’s wife Cassie (1866-1921, née Chapin) on 5/1/1906. Finally, Cassie passed it to her brother-in-law Benjamin H. Coyle (1867-1933) on 4/16/1913.

On 6/25/1913, Benjamin Coyle sold the property to Leonard Gill (1884-1960), a Colborne telegraph operator. Gill married Vivian Leonora Bonter (1890-?) in Brighton in 1907. He was a Colborne native and was a resident of Colborne in 1911 and of Brighton in 1921. There were no children as of 1921.

Leonard Gill sold the property to James Thorne (1860-?), another Colborne telegraph operator, on 2/14/1921. Thorne’s wife was Jane Ann Secor (1862-1942), whom he married in 1883. I can find one child: Alice (1887-?).

The Harts owned several properties near the Grand Trunk station, but Reid Lot 357 was owned before and longer than any other property, so I suspect they probably lived there. Martin Peterson owned the property from 1892 to 1903, but much of that time he was living in Toronto. I don’t know if he lived there before leaving Colborne. Edward Clarkson only held the land on an interim basis. The Coyle family owned it for 10 years (1903-1913), but I don’t think they lived on the property. The owned a lot of other properties in town and I can place several of them at other addresses. Also, although for most of the people placed on Division Street by the 1911 census, the census just says “Division Street”, it actually gives 357 Division Street as a specific address for a James Harden. So clearly, at least in 1911 the house was occupied by someone who didn’t own it. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Leonard Gill and James Thorne lived there, especially if one assumes that their place of employment as telegraph operators was in the train station.

James Harden (ca. 1848-?) was a carpenter who lived on Lot 357 with his daughter Florence (ca. 1885-?) in 1911.

Purchase prices don’t help much because they vary too much in the exact properties involved. I don’t know the vintage of the house, but I am guessing it was built by the Harts. If it’s younger than 1892 it might have been built by Martin Peterson. I doubt that the Coyles built it, unless they did so as a rental property.

To finish up, I have tabulated the land ownership for the rest of the properties on Division Street. I have covered the properties at the corners of King and Division Streets in other write- ups, so they are not included. The properties south of the Grand Trunk tracks were accessed from the east-west streets in the area rather than from Division Street, and I will discuss them when I write up those streets (William and Coulson). Similarly, Reid Plan 406-428 were along Earl Street, and I will include the one on the corner of Division Street (428) in a discussion of Earl. The tables can be found in the separate document sent with this one.

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