St. Thomas, Ontario – My Top 5 Picks

St. Thomas, Ontario – My Top 5 Picks

Colonel The Honorable Thomas Talbot (1771-1853), the founder of the “Talbot Settlement”, was born at Castle Malahide, Ireland. In 1803, after serving in the British Army, he was granted 5,000 acres and settled in Dunwich Township.  He promoted colonization by building mills, supervising the construction of a three hundred mile long road paralleling Lake Erie, and helping establish thousands of settlers in the area. In 1817 St. Thomas, located south of London and north of Port Stanley, was named for him.

St. Thomas, located in Southwestern Ontario at the intersection of two historical roads, was first settled in 1810. It was named the seat of the new Elgin County in 1844 and became a city in 1881. The founder of the settlement was Captain Daniel Rapelje. In 1820, Rapelje divided his land into town lots for a village and he donated two acres of land for the building of Old St. Thomas Church.

On September 15, 1885, Jumbo, the giant African elephant, star of the Barnum & Bailey Circus, met an untimely death when struck in St. Thomas by a Grand Trunk locomotive. A life-size commemorative statue was erected in 1985.

In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century several railways were constructed through the city and St. Thomas became an important railway junction. In the 1950s and 1960s, with the decline of the railway as a mode of transportation, other industry began to locate in the city, mainly primary and secondary automotive manufacturing.

Architecture Photos St Thomas Ontario

1 Wellington Street – built 1878 (McLachlin House) – Queen Anne style – turrets, scroll work, bracketing, dormers

Architecture Photos St Thomas Ontario

4-8 Wellington Street – Elgin County Court House was originally designed by architect John Turner and built in 1854. After a fire in 1898, the original building was repaired and enlarged by architect N .R. Darrach, resulting in the present Palladian style, expressed by its symmetry, rectangular and round-arched openings, and by the use of classic detailing.

Architecture Photos St Thomas Ontario

3 Drake Street – built 1876 – Georgian frame house
– paired cornice brackets

Architectural Photos St Thomas Ontario

71 Metcalfe Street – Georgian with three-bay front, the centre bay projects forward, pediment, cornice brackets

Architectural Photos St Thomas Ontario

72 Metcalfe Street – built in 1875 – Gothic Revival – sharply peaked roof, intricate verge board trim

Kitchener, Ontario – My Top 6 Picks

Kitchener, Ontario – My Top 6 Picks

Kitchener is located in Southwestern Ontario in the Grand River Valley. The settlement’s first name, Sand Hills, is an accurate description of the higher points of the Waterloo Moraine which snakes its way through the region and holds a significant quantity of artesian wells from which the city derives most of its drinking water.

In 1784, the land that Kitchener was built upon was an area of 240,000 hectares of land given to the Six Nations by the British as a gift for their allegiance during the American Revolution. The Six Nations sold 38,000 hectares of this land to Loyalist Colonel Richard Beasley. The land that was remote but of great interest to German Mennonite farming families from Pennsylvania. They wanted to live in an area that would allow them to practice their beliefs without persecution. The Mennonites purchased all of Beasley’s unsold land creating 160 farm tracts. By 1800, the first buildings were built, and over the next decade several families made the difficult trip north to Sand Hills. One of these Mennonite families, arriving in 1807, was the Schneiders, whose restored 1816 home (the oldest building in the city) is now a museum located in the heart of Kitchener.

Much of the land, made up of moraines and swampland interspersed with rivers and streams was converted to farmland and roads. Apple trees were introduced to the region by John Eby in the 1830s, and several grist and sawmills were erected throughout the area.

In 1833 the town was renamed Berlin. The extension of the Grand Trunk Railway from Sarnia to Toronto and through Berlin in July 1856 was a major boon to the community helping to improve industrialization in the area. Through the latter half of the 19th century and into the first decade of the 20th, the City of Berlin was a bustling industrial center celebrating its German heritage. When World War I started, that heritage became the focus of considerable enmity from non-German residents, and resulted in the name being changed to Kitchener.

Architecture Photos Kitchener

113 Water Street – Queen Anne style – verge board trim, fretwork brackets, second-floor sun room – Kitchener Book 1

Architecture Photos Kitchener

Water Street – Queen Anne eclectic style – one storey turret with cone-shaped roof, dormer in attic with balcony on second floor, bay window on the side – Kitchener Book 1

Architecture Photos Kitchenr

28 Weber Street – Second Empire style – mansard roof, dormers in roof
Kitchener Book 2

Architecture Photos Kitchener

222 Pandora Crescent – Tudor style – Kitchener Book 2

Architecture Photos Kitchenr

73 Queen Street North – Prosecutors’ Office – Gothic Revival – decorative cornice brackets, arched window voussoirs with keystones, corner quoins – Kitchener Book 2

Architecture Photos Kitchener

148 Margaret Street – Tudor half-timbering, two-storey tower with cone-shaped roof


Preston, Ontario – My Top 6 Picks

Preston, Ontario – My Top 6 Picks

John Erb, the founder of Preston, was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, a Mennonite of Swiss ancestry.  He came to Upper Canada in 1805, acquired 7,500 acres of land from the German Land Company and settled on the site of Preston where the Grand and Speed Rivers meet. He built a sawmill and a gristmill and the community grew around them. The town was originally known as “Cambridge Mills” and was later renamed after Preston, England.

Preston’s location on the Great Road into the interior of the province made it a natural stop for travelers and with its eight hotels and taverns attracted more Europeans than any other village in the area.

Preston was a prosperous manufacturing center for stoves, furniture, woolens and shoes. It became known for its mineral springs.

Architecture Photos Preston Ontario

252 Dundas Street, Preston – Gore Mutual Insurance – 1935

Architecture Photos Preston Ontario

706 Queenston Road – Queen Anne style – a two-and-a-half storey tower-like bay with gable, three-storey tower with cone-shaped roof

Architecture Photos Preston Ontario

222 Dundas Street, Preston – cobblestone architecture – Italianate with two-storey tower-like bays on either side of the doorway; dormer in attic between the bays

Architecture Photos Preston Ontario

522 King Street – two storey Italianate style with dormer in attic

Architecture Photos Preston Ontario

552 King Street – Italianate style – two-and-a-half storey tower-like bays with projecting eaves and large fretwork pieces resembling brackets

Architecture Photos Preston Ontario

480 Queenston Road – Italianate with a two-and-a-half storey tower-like bay with projecting eaves and large fretwork pieces resembling brackets


Galt, Ontario – My Top 6 Picks

Galt, Ontario – My Top 6 Picks

In 1784 the British Crown granted to the Six Nations Indians, in perpetuity, all the land along the Grand River six miles deep on each side of the river from its source to Lake Erie. The Indians, led by Joseph Brant, had the land surveyed in 1791 and divided into Indian Reserve lands as well as large tracts which they intended to sell to land developers. One such developer was the Honorable William Dickson who, in 1816, came into sole possession of 90,000 acres of land along the Grand River which later made up North and South Dumfries Townships.

It was Mr. Dickson’s intention to divide the land into smaller lots to sell to the Scottish settlers that he hoped to attract to Canada. For the town site, the place where Mill Creek flows into the Grand River was chosen and in 1816 the settlement of Shade’s Mills began. When the Post Office opened in 1825, the new name of Galt was chosen for the town in honor of the Scottish novelist and Commissioner of the Canada Company, John Galt.

In its early days Galt was an agricultural community serving the needs of the farmers in the surrounding countryside. By the late 1830s, the settlement began to develop industrially and acquired the reputation for quality products that in later years earned the town the nickname “The Manchester of Canada”.

In the late 1960s the provincial government began looking at ways in which municipal governments could become more effective. On January 1, 1973, the City of Galt was amalgamated with the towns of Preston and Hespeler to form a single city, the new city being called Cambridge.

22 Blenheim Road, Galt – 1½ storey Gothic Revival house with large dormers in the attic – Galt Book 1

16 Blenheim Road – R.O. McCulloch’s House – c. 1879 – yellow brick, Italianate style – cornice brackets, dentil moulding, decorative concrete keystones, wooden logia-style porch. Robert McCulloch was heir to Goldie-McCulloch Co. Ltd., the forerunner of Babcock & Wilcox Canada. – Galt Book 1

36 Blenheim Road – red brick Gothic Revival – verge board trim on gables, bay window – Galt Book 1

26 Lansdowne Road North – Queen Anne style – verge board trim on gable, dichromatic brickwork, cornice brackets on bay window – Galt Book 1

222 Main Street – Italianate – cornice brackets, iron cresting above bay windows and around 2nd floor balcony, cornice brackets, hipped roof– Galt Book 2

12½ Water Street – Old Post Office– A.D. 1883 – clock tower– Galt Book 2

Simcoe, Ontario – My Top 6 Picks

Simcoe, Ontario – My Top 6 Picks

Simcoe is a town in Southwestern Ontario located near Lake Erie at the junction of Highways 3 and 24, south of Brantford. From Hamilton take Highway 6 to Simcoe.

Simcoe was founded in 1795 by Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe. He gave a grant to Aaron Culver, one of the earliest settlers, with the condition that he was to build mills. In 1801 he built a sawmill and a few years later added a grist mill.  The combined operation known as Union Mill was instrumental in the development of Simcoe. By 1812 a hamlet had grown up around the mills. The mills were burnt and the adjacent houses looted by U.S. troops in 1814. In 1819-23, Culver laid out a village which he called Simcoe. The mill was rebuilt by Duncan Campbell around 1825. By the 1870s, Nathan Ford operated a large flour mill, grain elevator and distillery on this site. The last water-powered mill on this site ceased operations in 1928.

94 Norfolk Street – Italianate style with two-and-a-half storey tower-like bay topped with a cupola with iron cresting on top; decorative voussoirs and keystones

109 Norfolk Street South – Eva Brook Donly Museum – Georgian style

Norfolk Street at corner of Lynn Park Drive – Stone mansion, Palladian window in round gable, decorative voussoirs, deep verandahs, enclosed verandah on second floor at rear

72 Lynwood Drive – Neo-colonial style, gambrel roof

121 Colborne Street – two-storey pillars supporting the roof with verandahs on both levels

217 Colborne Street – Second Empire style – mansard roof, dichromatic tilework

Caledonia, Ontario – My Top 6 Picks

Caledonia, Ontario – My Top 6 Picks

Caledonia is a small riverside community located on the Grand River in Haldimand County. It is located at the intersection of Highway 6 and Highway 54 (within the town, these streets are called Argyle Street and Caithness Street respectively).  On Highway 6, the town is 10 kilometers south of Hamilton and 10 kilometers north of Hagersville. On Highway 54, the town is 15 kilometers east of Brantford and 10 kilometers west of Cayuga.

The Grand River flows 293 kilometers from the Dundalk Highlands to Lake Erie and is the largest river in southern Ontario. The river winds its way through marshes, woods, farmsteads, and communities. Rainbow trout use this river in their migration.

Caledonia was once a small strip of land between Seneca and Oneida villages. The Grand River traveled through Caledonia dividing it into two sides, North and South. In 1834, Ranald McKinnon was hired to build a dam in Seneca and a dam in Caledonia. Completed in 1840, the dams made water power available. The dam at Caledonia was constructed as part of a series of dams, locks and canals to facilitate navigation of the Grand River from Lake Erie to Brantford. Mills were built throughout Seneca village, and five mills were built in Caledonia by 1850.  Commercial navigation ceased by 1879, but the dam continued to serve the local mills and provided a recreation opportunity. The present dam was built in 1980 downstream of the original structure.

204 Caithness Street – paired cornice brackets, corner quoins, decorative verge board trim on gable of two-and-a-half-storey tower-like bay

153 Argyle Street – Gothic Revival cottage, corner quoins, decorative brickwork

4 Argyle Street – Toll House c. 1875 – built as an office and residence for the collector of tolls for the bridge over the Grand River

11 Orkney Street – Gothic Revival

78 Sutherland Street

Grand River Mills – Caledonia Milling Co. – built in 1846 – the last timber-frame water powered mill along the Grand River in Ontario



Hagersville, Ontario – My Top 6 Picks

Hagersville, Ontario – My Top 6 Picks

Hagersville, a community in Haldimand County, is located about 45 kilometers southwest of Hamilton, Ontario, and 15 kilometers southwest of Caledonia.

In 1852, Charles Hager built a frame hotel at the corner of the Plank Road and Indian Line. It was called The Junction Hotel and later The Lawson Hotel after a change in ownership. Hagersville’s first post office was in this hotel.  With the construction of the Plank Road, a small village popped up in 1855 when Charles and David Hager bought most of the land in the center of the area. David Almas owned the land on the east side of the road, while John Porter owned the land in the west end.  Joseph Seymour suggested the community be called Hagersville to honor the Hager brothers.

The building of the Canada Southern Railroad in 1870, and of the Hamilton and Lake Erie Railway three years later helped to make Hagersville a prosperous village.

Hagersville gained notoriety in 1990 with a huge uncontrolled tire fire which spewed toxic smoke into the atmosphere for seventeen days.  The fire actually occurred in Townsend, a neighboring community, but media labeled it as Hagersville due to Townsend’s relatively unknown status in the area.

Italianate style, dichromatic brickwork, two-storey bay window

Gothic Revival style – verge board trim, bay window

Queen Anne style

#15 and #17 – duplex – Gothic Revival – arched window voussoirs

The Old Lawson House Eatery and Pub – dormers, Italianate style, arched window voussoirs

#64 – Edwardian/Italianate style

Jarvis, Ontario – My Top 6 Picks

Jarvis, Ontario – My Top 6 Picks (the photo book also includes pictures in Port Dover)

Jarvis is located near the towns of Simcoe, Cayuga, Port Dover and Hagersville. Jarvis is strategically located at the junction of Highways 3 and 6. Jarvis has some excellent examples of brick architecture. Many of the historic homes were built after 1873. Many of the town’s restaurants and shops are clustered around the intersection of the highways. The majority of the buildings are red brick.

Jarvis Train Station

2145 Main Street – Gothic Revival – verge board trim, bay window with cornice brackets

45 Talbot Street – Second Empire style – mansard roof, dormers in roof, single cornice brackets, cornice return on small gables on window dormers

c. 1847 – Italianate, hipped roof, dichromatic brickwork

2092 Main Street – Italianate – c. 1870 – Italianate style

60 Talbot Street East – Italianate style with frontispiece, triangular pediment, dormers in the attic

Southampton, Ontario – My Top 6 Picks

Southampton, Ontario – My Top 6 Picks

Southampton is located on Lake Huron at the mouth of the Saugeen River.  It is located south of Sauble Beach and north of Port Elgin.

In the spring of 1848, Captain John Spence, a native of the Orkney Islands in northern Scotland, arrived at the mouth of the Saugeen River after an overland journey on foot from Owen Sound. He was impressed with the potential of the area, returned to Owen Sound for provisions and the following year built a cabin near the mouth of the river, becoming Southampton’s first permanent settler. His wife and family joined him in 1850. He bought the fishing schooner “Sea Gull” for coastal trade along the shores of Lake Huron.

It is quiet and peaceful on Southampton’s beach, a four-kilometer-long stretch of shore. The wooden Long Dock extends towards Chantry Island with its lighthouse in view offshore.

33 Victoria Street North, the old public school – now houses the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre – 1878 – yellow brick – Italianate style with Two-and-a-half storey tower-like bay with two-storey tower above, iron cresting on top

107 High Street – Chantry Breezes Bed and Breakfast – George E. Smith, Customs Officer – c. 1907 – Queen Anne style – spacious wrap-around porches, patios, flower gardens, mature trees, one block from white sand beaches of Lake Huron, has seven tastefully decorated bedrooms featuring antiques, historic charm and en-suite bathrooms

25 Huron Street North – Magnus Spence, Gentleman – 1896 – Italianate style with two-and-a-half storey tower-like bay with projecting eaves, paired cornice brackets, cornice return on gable

201 High Street – constructed by James Howe in 1887 as a private library and used as a Mechanics Institute until 1892; from 1896 to 1955 it housed a public library – yellow brick, Gothic Revival style, cornice return on gable – In 1957 it became the Southampton Art School.

#44 – Gothic Revival – one-and-a-half storeys

33 Albert Street South – The Customs Agent once lived in this house, which was built in 1902 by the Bowman Family who were owners of the local tannery. Gothic Revival/Queen Anne style – large fretwork pieces resembling brackets

Orangeville, Ontario – My Top 6 Picks

Orangeville, Ontario – My Top 6 Picks

Orange Lawrence helped to develop the community. He bought 300 acres, laid out the southeast part of town, bought Grigg’s Mill, opened a general store and a tavern, built a second mill, founded the first school, and became the village’s first postmaster in 1847. He left a strong mark on the community which took the appropriate name of Orangeville.

Immigrants from Ireland and other parts of the British Isles and Canada West came throughout the 1840s and 1850s with some establishing successful mixed farms while others settled in the village and became the landowners, merchants, and tradesmen whose needs lead to the development of good transportation routes.

It was the foresight of Orange Lawrence and Jesse Ketchum that had large sections of land on either side of the main street laid out for both commercial and residential building lots. The south side followed Mill Creek while a regular grid pattern was determined for the streets on the north side from First to Fifth Streets both east and west and north to Fifth Avenue, with a wide main street called Broadway. This 30-metre (100-foot) avenue was not typical of Ontario towns of the time, but has proven to be very valuable over the years. In 1875 the Town Hall was constructed, and in 1887 the first telephone exchange was established, but it wasn’t until 1916 that electricity came to the town.

The old town of Orangeville is still alive today. Some of the buildings on Broadway have been demolished; others have been renovated, while others remain as they were when they were built 120 years ago.

There are hundreds of old buildings in Orangeville which have retained their 1800s architectural styles and character.  The first Orangeville book covers the beginnings of Orangeville with pictures from the south side of town, and buildings on Broadway.  An appendix is included to describe architectural styles and terms which are referred to throughout the book.  The second book covers buildings to the north of the town, as well as pictures taken in surrounding villages of Laurel, Caledon Village and Mono Centre.

16-18 Wellington Street – King House c. 1888 – Second Empire style – large brick house, mansard roof, ornamental ironwork – Orangeville Book 1

87 Broadway – Orangeville Town Hall – built to serve as town hall, municipal offices, market area, opera house – c. 1875 – Italianate architecture with projecting roof eaves, paired cornice brackets, pedimented roof line, and use of contrasting brick colors – the cupola is a prominent feature – Orangeville Book 2

269 Broadway – Italianate – wide porch, pediment (low gable over the door) with decorated tympanum, Ionic capitals on the pillars – Orangeville Book 2

283 Broadway – Romanesque – massive shape, tower on side and front, large arches over windows – Orangeville Book 2

51 Zina Street – Dufferin County Court House – Classic Revival style built in 1880 with three towers that project from the façade, the center one most prominent; buff brick for decorative window hoods, bands, panels; cornice and capitals on red brick pilasters; projecting gable ends with triangular pediments and decorated tympanums – Orangeville Book 3

1st Line and Highway 9 – Romanesque style – decorative verge board on gable, paired cornice brackets, quoining on centre tower and corners, rounded window voussoirs with keystones – Orangeville Book 3