91 King Street East, Colborne

(mid 1800s)
Roll No. 1411-012-030-09600 – Cramahe Township Ontario

Folk Victorian Vernacular

No. 91 King Street East, Colborne is the local doctor’s surgery. The property is directly south east of Seaton Hall at No. 89 King Street East. Seaton Hall is the doctor’s residence and it sits up on a hill above No. 91.

No. 91 is a beautifully restored Folk Victorian with various features added to accommodate the public and changing by-laws. (ramps etc.)

Initially these Folk Victorians were found in remote/rural areas, made of local materials with or without adornment. Later they became very popular and today they can be found in rural areas and cities in every neighbourhood.

The original Folk Victorian floor plan is straight forward with a parlour in front, kitchen in back, and bedrooms upstairs but of course things within the footprint change over time.

The classic Folk Victorian has a tall, square symmetrical shape with a front gable and a side wing which gives it an “L” shape. It has a cross gable roof and a front porch with spindles and gingerbread and sometimes flat jigsaw trim.

Some properties of this style have a three panel oriel window (on the upper floor level) in the Gothic style and many others have ground floor three panel bay or bow windows.

No. 91 has a long narrow footprint with a gable end. It does have a two story three panel bow window on the front facade, a single offset door and a small porch sheltering the front door. It differs from the classic Folk Victorian in that it doesn’t have the “L” shaped kitchen wing, though there is an addition on the west side. It has narrow clapboard with gingerbread trim and is painted an authentic historic colour. It is a fine addition to the other century homes on King Street East.

History or Associative Value

King’s College, Goslee, Keeler, Grover are names associated with this property; some owned it and some leased it and behaved as if they owned it (i.e. “sold” it to others). James Goslee sold different parts of it to his son George and daughter Elizabeth and her husband John M. Grover. Seaton Hall next door was built mid 1800s and #91 could have been a secondary dwelling on that property. It was likely occupied by one or more of the Grover’s four daughters and heirs until at least 1921.

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information

91 King Street East

This is the doctor’s office just east of Seaton Hall at 89 King Street East. As far as land ownership before 1921 is concerned, it is identical to that property. In other words, both properties are on Reid Lot 177 and that Lot wasn’t subdivided before 1921.
The earliest land ownership records for the southern part of Lot 30, Concession 2 are a bit confused. The Lot was granted by the Crown to King’s College on 3 January 1828. Scattered parts of it were then sold by James D. Goslee (1794-1865) in 1846, 1847, and 1848, although I can find no record of a transfer from the College to Goslee. I might have assumed that this was simply a case of a missing Land Office record if it weren’t for the fact that all of the southern part of Lot 30, including the parts sold by James D. Goslee, were sold by King’s College (by now the University of Toronto) to James’ son George Goslee (1823-1882) on 28 September 1855. Apparently the University didn’t recognize the right of James Goslee to sell off property, although ownership titles to the properties sold by him were apparently valid after the 1855 sale to George (probably because George honoured his father’s commitments). Although I can find no Land Office record of James Goslee acquiring the properties he sold in 1846-1848, there is a comment in a later document pertaining to some legal difficulties he had that he had acquired at least some of those properties from Joseph Keeler. There is a Land Office record of an “assignment of lease” from Moses Hinman (1784-1872) to Joseph Keeler in April 1810. It rather looks like Hinman rented the property from the Crown and transferred his lease to Keeler, who then passed it on to James Goslee. Either Keeler or Goslee, I don’t know which, took upon himself the rights of ownership, even though they didn’t legally exist.

James D. Goslee was an early Colborne entrepreneur who moved to Cramahe with his parents in about 1807. The Goslees lived originally in the Salem area but James moved to Colborne sometime before 1850. He was involved in land transactions in Colborne as early as 1831, so I am thinking he may have moved there sometime around then, possibly following the death of his father Matthew Goslee in 1830. In 1850 James Goslee built a house on Reid Lot 176 in the southwestern corner of Lot 30, Concession 2. This is where the vacant lot now stands on King Street East just east of Elgin Street.

Reid Lot 177 was one of the properties sold by James Goslee during this period of confusion. He sold it to his daughter Elizabeth Grover (1817-1903) on 18 September 1847. George Goslee verified her ownership by granting it to her again on 4 March 1858. Elizabeth was married to John M. Grover (1815-1888), owner of J. M. Grover and Co., a general store, in 1851, but listed in the 1861, 1871, and 1881 censuses as the Registrar of Deeds for the East Riding of Northumberland County. The Grovers appear to have had four daughters: Mary Elizabeth (“Minnie”), Alice Georgina, Emily Gertrude, and Maude Grant. Recorded birthdates for all of these girls vary widely, but they were all born in the 1840s or 1850s. Elizabeth Grover is the woman whose 1900 reminiscence is the source of the Ann Schuyler/Matthew Goslee story, Ann and Matthew having been her grandparents.

Elizabeth Grover’s second acquisition of Reid Lot 177 in 1858 is the last record I have for the property. Unless there are missing Land Office records, Elizabeth and her heirs owned the property through our 1921 cut-off. Elizabeth died in 1903 but I know at least two of her daughters (Mary and Emily) were still living in Colborne at that time. I can only imagine one or more of the girls took over ownership of the property when their mother died.

This conflicts with Argyris’s statement that Seaton Hall was owned by Colborne dentist William George Robertson (1873-?) from 1915 to 1954. Robertson was married to Annie McGlennon (1878-?), daughter of James McGlennon (1841-?) and Annie Shaw (1844-1920), who owned most of Reid Block F adjacent to Reid Lot 177. Although he purchased some farmland just to the north of Reid Lot 177 from his parents-in-law in 1906, there is no record that he ever owned Lot 177 itself. Again, unless there is a missing Land Office record, it looks like he may have leased the property next to his wife’s parents home from the Grover family.

None of this gives us any information specifically about the house at 91 King Street East. This house stands on a small parcel of land severed off the southeastern corner of Reid Block 177. As already noted this didn’t occur officially prior to 1921. If the house is older than that, then it was a second house built on the Seaton Hall property, presumably by the Grover family. Perhaps one of the Grover daughters lived there after she married? Alice married William C. Deans (1837-1876) in 1864. Maude married William Sidney Smith (ca. 1841-?) in 1871. Emily married Arthur Bennett Cheffins (1852-?) in 1877. Mary married James Edgar Bailey (1852-?) in 1878, but she had been married previously to someone named Bennett.


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