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Two New Churches……..1878-1879

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Designed by
James P. Johnston, Architect
of Ogdensburg


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.




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

Prince Albert Edward Visited Brockville on September 3 & 4, 1860

[click on any photograph to enlarge it]

Brockville was getting ready for the visit of the Prince of Wales on September 3, 1860. This arch, one of five placed along the route of the planned procession, was built by James Gallena at the intersection of King St. W. and John St. It was designed to resemble an arch in England at an entrance to one of the Royal palaces. Noticeable on the far right is the Commercial Hotel, and just to the left of it, the Clifton House.

It was quite an occasion for the citizens of Brockville who awaited the arrival of their Prince by train from Ottawa on the afternoon of Monday, September 3, 1860. Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (1841-1910), Queen Victoria’s eighteen-year-old son was in the middle of a three-month visit to North America on behalf of his mother.

After a quick 12-day voyage on board the battleship HMS Hero from Plymouth, England, the prince and his official party, headed by the Duke of Newcastle, the British Secretary of State, landed at St. John’s, Newfoundland on July 26, 1860. During an intense tour of the Maritime Colonies, and visits to Quebec City and Montreal, “Bertie,” as he was commonly known, had delighted the crowds wherever he traveled, and had enjoyed dancing with numerous women at the many grand balls that had been set up in the larger centres.

His official duties included opening the new Victoria Railway Bridge at Montreal and the Canadian Parliament Buildings at Ottawa, before he boarded a special train to travel to Brockville. This was meant to be a layover before he and his fifteen-member entourage moved up the St. Lawrence River by steamship to Kingston and Toronto.

Here’s a photograph perhaps taken on the same day as the previous one. The location is further east on King Street looking west from near the intersection with Broad St.  Notice all the flags flying on the buildings. In the background after the road turns you might see the Gallena arch as shown in the previous photograph.

[click on any photograph to enlarge it]

Thus it was that Brockville prepared to welcome Prince Albert. For weeks prior, preparations were underway. Elaborate arches were constructed on the various streets along the planned parade route set for the afternoon.

The Grand Trunk Railway Company’s arch built just south of the depot at the head of Buell St. would be the first to be encountered by the Prince and his party. The route would lead down Buell to Church St. where it would turn westerly to Perth St. The second arc, located in front of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, was surmounted by a floral crown, a harp, and an Irish wolfhound.

On the main street, near the intersection of John Street, the third arch was the work of James Gallena and Son, the plaster contractors. This is the one pictured here at the right. The fourth and grandest arch was placed near Court House Ave. Its pinnacles were capped by two barge imitation beavers, the Arms of the Royal Family, and a replica of the Prince of Wales’ feathers.

All along the route, many buildings were decorated with numerous flags, floral crowns, bannerettes, and flowers. In the centre of town a wreath of evergreens was extended across the street with a banner inscribed: “Welcome, Prince of Wales, son of the best of Queens, and a nation’s hope.”

The route led to Park St., down to Water St., and back to the Brockville & Ottawa Railway Depot where the final arch erected by the company led onto the steamboat wharf where the SS Kingston would receive the party.

During the afternoon at the Grand Trunk Station, Brockville’s officials and crowds of citizens waited anxiously, but the train’s arrival was delayed beyond its expected time. It finally arrived hours late, but the sun had set, and makeshift locomotive lamps were set up to light the scene.

Mayor William Fitzsimmons delivered a welcoming speech, to which the Prince replied. Similarly the Warden of the Counties spoke. By this time, the crowd was creating a commotion, and amidst much restlessness and shoving the visitors were escorted to the waiting carriages by the hard-pressed police and special constables. It was said that Governor-General Sir Edmund Head was nearly shoved off the platform.

The procession set off down Buell St. escorted by the Militia Company band. Thousands of those in town to see the Prince were disappointed at not get a good look at His Highness with the limited street lighting then available. At the wharf the Royal group stepped out of their carriages, traveled along the carpeted path, under the last arch, and boarded the steamship Kingston. They stayed on board as it anchored off shore for the night.

In the morning, through the encouragement of a prominent Brockville citizen, the Prince’s party decided to land again, taxied to shore by the pleasure steamer “Queen of the Isles,” and again drove through town, allowing both visitors and Brockvillians a better view. Upon the return of the carriages about noon, the SS Kingston hauled up anchor and departed to the cheers of the crowds on the dock.

This is the Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria’s son, Albert Edward [born 1841], whom the family called “Bertie”. This photograph was taken about the year when he was 18 years old and embarked on his extensive Royal Tour of North America.

This is the standing portrait of Bertie taken in Matthew Brady’s photographic studio in New York on October 13, 1860, 10 days after his visit to Brockville ended.

Sources: The street scene photograph has been printed over the years, and was probably taken by the studio of A.C. McIntyre. The Prince of Wales was photographed about the time of his visit to North America. The majority of the details relating the story of Brockville’s welcome to the Prince were taken from an undated article published in the Recorder & Times many years ago. The article related the memories of Charles C. Lyman of 39 Victoria Ave. who was a mere 10 years old when his parents brought him from Toledo to Brockville for the visit of the Prince of Wales.

Reference in WIKIPEDIA about Prince Albert Edward (later King Edward VII)

King Street West, looking east from near Kincaid St.

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This ia a “gritty” view of King Street, with dirt road, wooden sidewalks, gas lamps and towering wooden electric poles. Dominating this old scene is the large brick Central Block which has stood on this part of the main street since it was built in 1878.The first awning on the left was that of McConkey’s Grocery, then Edward Clint, undertaker and furniture dealer, George Wooding, boots & shoes (note his stock in the front), Michael Kehoe, merchant tailor, Morrison & Percival, tinsmiths, Timothy Browne & Co., grocers, and lastly, McGlade’s Hotel. The small building where the present Tim Horton’s stands was the location of Anson Carr, the barber and Ross & Burns, butchers.

On the other side of Chase St. is the three-storey Grand Central Hotel, at that time operated by Samuel Connor and owned by Charles and Kate Cossitt.

The corner of the street at Kincaid on the bottom right was vacant, and the second large building with the tower was the Tompkins Block. This property later became the western part of the Strathcona Hotel, also developed by Thomas Tompkins one of Brockville’s earlier property developers.


For comparison, this later view shows part of the same area about 40 years later. Parking a car on the main street was becoming a problem most days. The “gasoline” sign was outside the new building of Beacock & Co., dealers in Cadillac, McLaughlin, Oldsmobile and Pontiac automobiles, which stood at the south-east corner of King & Kincaid Sts. Beyond that, one can see the sign of the Capital Theatre, previously known as the Brock Theatre.

On the north side are first, the sign of George Morrison’s cigar store and pool room, and at the far end, Diana Sweets Restaurant, run by Mike Leras, was formerly “Diana Sweets Confectionery Shop”.

June 1, 1941

Victory Loan Parade

Sources: The older photograph on the left was first published in the Christmas 1894 edition of “The Canadian Annual” a graphic magazine which featured “Beautiful Brockville, The City of the Thousand Islands” that year in a 41-page special section.

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