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Benjamin Chaffey – John McMullen Houses

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30, 32 Apple Street

built about 1834



This picture comes from the collection of the Lorimer family. Shown is a pair of attached stone homes which date from about 1834. The photograph was taken in 1911 during the period of ownership from 1908-1920 of James Lorimer, the father of Hal Lorimer.

This empty lot was acquired in 1833 by Benjamin Chaffey (1806-1867) for 75 pounds from Sabina Buell (1786-1859), the unmarried daughter of William Buell Sr. The home in which she lived for over thirty years is located to the north at 36 Apple St.


Benjamin Chaffey


Builder, Contractor and Engineer

taken in the 1860s

It is very likely that Chaffey, a young building contractor, erected these houses on Apple St., and that he lived here in the 1830s and 40s while engaged in building many of the stone buildings in Brockville.

The property changed hands in the 1840s and was later acquired in 1856 by the tempestuous Irish newspaper publisher and writer, John M. McMullen (1820-1907). McMullen’s book, The History of Canada from it’s First Discovery to the Present Time, was first published in 1855 and filled a need for a Canadian history book. Subsequent editions came out in 1867 and 1892.

He also edited and published the local newspaper, The Brockville Monitor starting in 1857, but to less favourable response. McMullen and his wife Sarah Nesbitt lived here along with their 6 children. He died in 1907. In the next year it became the property of Jim Lorimer, and when he married Mae in 1910, No. 32 became their first home together.


John M. McMullen


Historian, Newspaper Publisher, and Town Councillor

Source: The Building picture is from a photograph loaned by Hal Lorimer, Anchorage Bay, west of Brockville. The two portraits are from my collection.


Word Press

About Doug Grant

I am a local history buff who lives in the terrific city of Brockville on the north side of the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Toronto in the Canadian province of Ontario. I intend this Blog Site to share a lot of historical information which I have been collecting for the last 35 or so years. I was educated in Scarborough, Ontario and Toronto. I graduated as an Architectural Technologist from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (now Ryerson University) in 1966. My first career was as an Architectural Technologist/Draftsman in Toronto between 1966 and 1972. I decided to go into teaching in 1972, and attended the Ontario College of Education in Toronto. I was then qualified to teach Architectural Drafting in the Ontario school system and obtained a position to do this in the town of Prescott, Ontario. I taught all my career at South Grenville District High School in Prescott until my retirement in June 2000. I have continued to develop one of my main interests and hobbies in Canadian History and specificly the History of Brockville since moving to live in Brockville, Ontario in 1972. Some of the material that I intend to use on this site was originally published in the Brockville newspaper, "The Recorder and Times" under my copyright. In addition I want to use a number of historical photographs that I have collected over the years. Would love to hear from anyone with similar interests to mine.

8 responses »

  1. Samuel B. Chaffey

    Dear Mr. Grant,
    Have ever seen any information re: a Lake Michigan Indian Chief named Etiwanda mentioned in any history of Benjamin Chaffey. apparently they were
    good friends and had business dealings together.
    Benjamin’s nephew George,1848-1932 , named the community of Etiwanda, California after the chief.
    The Etiwanda Historical Society would appreciate
    any info: you may have in that regard, especially a
    photo of the chief.

    Thank you,

    Samuel Benjamin Chaffey

    • Sam:

      I have a thick file on the Chaffey family, but I don’t believe the name of Etiwanda has occurred in anything I have.

      I would be interested in knowing more about this aspect of their lives.

      Thanks for the interest on your part and for leaving a question on my web site.

      Doug Grant

  2. Doug:
    Are you familiar with the home that Benjamin built in 1859 for he and his wife Janet Chisholm Chaffey
    called Somerset? In 1906 it became St. Albans School for Boys until it closed in 1949. Apparently R.G.L. (Bertie Mainwaring, son of the third headmaster still lives in the home. I do not know the address.


    • beth norrad

      I currently live in Somerset house and am trying to research its’ history. Can you tell me more? Both Benjamin and Janet’s portraits are right outside my door and I say good night to them every night::-)

      • beth norrad

        Mrs. Eve (Birdie) Mainwaring still live Somerset House. She is as alert as she has ever been and at 94, still teaches from her golf cart.

      • Sam Chaffey

        Hello Beth Norrad, If you send me your e-mailaddress, I will send you some history re: the home and Benjamin & Janet!
        Samuel Benjamin Chaffey

  3. Hi Doug:

    I thought this new post of mine might be of interest, I mention your page here on John M. McMullen which I found most interesting.

    If you have any interest in reading the posts on whisky history in Ontario, you can select a month from the margin on the right and read them serially, most appeared in July just passed. My thesis is, whisky in Ontario came in with the Loyalists, not direct from Britain with the British army, say, or from other early British presence.


    Gary Gillman, Toronto


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