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Two New Churches……..1878-1879

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Designed by
James P. Johnston, Architect
of Ogdensburg

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The town of Brockville saw the building of four new churches in the years between 1875 and 1879. The first one was the George St. Episcopal Methodist Church (1875) on the south-west corner of Court House Square. Then the congregation of Trinity Anglican Church (1877) built their new building at the corner of Clarissa St. & George St.

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ca. 1880

1 Pine St [Brockville, ON] - Baptist Tabernacle [ca1880] improved

The First Baptist Church was under construction throughout 1878.
The new Baptist church was situated on the site of the old one. It was built of blue limestone and trimmed with white crystalized limestone. The main sanctuary designed to seat 500 persons on the main floor measured 77 x 56 feet. The spire rose to a height of 120 feet. Four large stained glass windows enhanced the sanctuary. The pastor, the Rev. R.B. Montgomery led the dedication services on Sunday, March 23, 1879.
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This was followed by new church edifices, built to replace earlier buildings. These are the two modern churches pictured here. Above is the Baptist Tabernacle (1878) on the south-east corner of Court House Sq., and below is the First Presbyterian Church (1879) on the north-west corner opposite. Imagine the interest of Brockvillians in this frenzy of church construction, in an age when church attendance was an integral part of family life.
The latest approved style of religious architecture was the soaring neo-gothic shown here and the design of these two buildings was from the hand of James P. Johnston (1841-1893),a very successful architect, then practicing in Ogdensburg, N.Y. With the completion of these buildings Johnston gained a number of important residential commissions from the wealthy businessmen of Brockville including Newton Cossitt, Richard Field and Thomas Gilmour.

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ca. 1880

10 Church St [Brockville, ON] - First Presbyterian Church [c1880]

The First Presbyterian Church was completed in 1879.
The new church was the third one erected on this corner near the Court House. The large sanctuary measured 100 x 110 ft. with a seating capacity of 900. The cost of construction was said to be about $35,000.

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Source: These two previously unknown photos were found by the late John Kehn of Home Again Antiques, who allowed me to copy them a few years ago. They were taken by George B. Murray, and may have been the earliest professional pictures taken after construction was completed. Also note the smaller buildings on either side of the churches.

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The Wheelmen of Brockville

Members of the first Brockville Cycling Club

1883

murray-alex-mcclean-crawford-1883

Alex. L. Murray  and  Crawford McClean

This is a studio photograph of two of the founding members of the Brockville Cycling Club posed on their new “High-Wheel Bicycles.” Alex Murray was the junior partner with his father, George B. Murray in the company, Murray & Son, photographers. Crawford McClean was the son of the late Judge Worship B. McClean, and lived at 35 Hartley St. in his father’s brick home.  Besides taking part in country tours, the racers of the local clubs were known to race around the track at the Driving Park, near Ormond St. and Central Ave. where the annual Agricultural Fair was held.


Bicycle development led to further improvements, including a high-wheel tricycle, and placing the small wheel in the front, but soon chain-drives, triangular configured frames and equal sized pneumatic-tired wheels arrived on the scene. This was when young women abandoned their bustles and corsets, and joined the bicycle revolution which forced women to adapt to more “common sense dressing.”

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Young sportsmen around the world were quick to embrace the new sport of cycling in the early 1880s. Brockville was no exception. The new “High-Wheel” bicycles were being built of metal because of the advance of steel metallurgy in the late 1870s. With a large front wheel, solid-rubber tires, a high saddle and handle bars, followed by a smaller trailing wheel, it required a new kind of skill and athleticism to peddle these cycles.


Because the motive power on these cycles was a pair of peddles connected directly to the front wheel, the oversized wheel contributed to more distance traveled and speed with one rotation of the peddles.


The high-wheelers cost a small fortune to purchase. They could cost an average worker six month’s pay, but gained a great popularity among young men of means. In towns like Brockville, Lyn, Prescott, and Cardinal, small groups of bicyclists formed clubs to share their passion for riding. According to records kept by the Canadian Cycling Association, the Brockville Cycling Club was the first registered club in Canada.


The roads of the day were rough, often causing accidental falls and tumbles. Any small rut or stone could send a balanced rider over the handlebars and down to the ground in what was known as “taking a header.”


The local bicycle clubs took part in touring and racing in the 1890s, at times working toward building special cinder-paved bike trails alongside the existing roads. Periodically articles found in the local newspapers reported on efforts to raise money for these bicycle tracks such as one from Brockville to Lyn (1896), or from the “Dew Drop Inn” (on the Kingston Rd at Lyn Road) westwardly (1898).


Other Brockville wheelmen mentioned in local reports, in addition to the two in the photo, included: Capt. Ernie Bissett, Dr. Robert A. Bowie, brothers, Charles S. and Fremont B. Cossitt, Edwin Weatherhead, and Harry Going, the secretary of the club.


In May of 1897 a small item in the newspaper reported that a locally-made bicycle could be purchased at Dobbie’s Hardware Store for $60. It was the product of a young mechanic named Fred Ruetsch, who previously had worked at Stearn’s Bicycle Co. in Syracuse

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Sources: Most of the bits of information about the local bicycle club has been collected by the Brockville Museum, but no detailed history of the Brockville Bicycle Club has been found yet. This photograph was one of two given to the museum 1981 by W. Stanley Adams, who owned a jewellery store on King Street.

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copyright-feb-2009

King Street, looking west from Market Square – ca.1869

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King St & Market looking west ca1869

[This photograph can be viewed full size in a separate window by double clicking on the picture on this page until you reach the enlarged version further into the system]

This is one of the most important and informative photographs of King Street that has been found. It is a real encapsulated moment on a quiet sunny summer day when Brockville was unaffected by modern technology.

Some of the signs that are visible here, help to date the scene. On the left is Campbell’s Hotel (the former Willson’s Hotel) while operated by John L. Campbell. He owned it from 1867-1873. On the right is the International Studio of Photography, purchased from A.C. McIntyre in 1869 by George B. Murray, who moved here from Montreal. This photograph is probably one of his first advertising efforts The smooth stone-faced building was known as the City Block.

It is possible to see how King Street takes a bend as it goes westerly. In the middle background is the round-cornered Castle Block at Kincaid St., and next to it, the open grounds of the David Jones homestead. At the far end we can see the pointed tower over the Town Hall (now the Arts Centre).

In the first block on the south is George Landon’s Saloon, and beyond that is he big black boot outside William Hope’s Shoe & Boot Store. Further on we can see the golden key above Field’s Hardware in the Round Corner Block.

On the north side beyond the City Block are Edward Lawless’ Grocery, and John McMullen & Co’s. Bookstore. Just beyond the billboard is George Houston’s new grocery and liquor store. At the far end of the block is the jewellery store of Thomas B. Steacy (under the big watch).

Then beyond Court House Ave. is the drug store of William M. Fulford. This business was later taken over by his younger brother, George T. Fulford. The sign says “Exchange Broker and Tickets” Just west of Fulford is Robert Lipsett, selling shoes and boots at the sign of the ‘fancy boot’.

The road surface is dirt, smooth and dry, being groomed and cleaned regularly by labourers working for the Street Surveyor. The wooden sidewalks are about 10 feet wide, and the intersections are lighted by gas lamps, lit every evening at dusk by the town lamplighter.

Source: The original of this great photograph is in the collection of the Brockville Museum, having been given to the Brockville & District Historical Society about 31 years ago, by the family of Col. F.C.“Ted” Curry.

copyright March 2008 - Doug Grant, ON

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