Fred C. GORDON – Brockville Sketch Artist

Frederick Charles Gordon (1856-1924), a native of Cobourg, Ontario, was a young artist who arrived in Brockville about 1887 to teach art at the Brockville Business College. This was a starting job for a budding professional artist who had trained in Paris before returning to Canada.


Brockville Business College logo -brown- (Gordon)

This College advertisement shows the hand of Art teacher Fred Gordon.


 cover - Brockville, The City of the Thousand Islands 1888

The above booklet entitled Brockville Illustrated, The City of the Thousand Island, designed by Fred Gordon, was published for the Canada Carriage Co. in 1888.  The complete publication was filled with on-the-spot drawings created by Gordon in the first two years he lived here.


Title Page 1888 Booklet -brown- (Gordon)This was the title page in which the artist combined his love of hand lettering and illustration.  All the following pages are copied from this booklet.



Court House Square 1887
First Presbyterian Church and the Brockville Court House on Court House Square.
Old Post Office -brown- (Gordon 1888)
The Dominion Post Office & Customs House Building,
opened in 1885.
Fulford Buildings -brown- (Gordon 1888)
The Fulford Buildings, including the earlier structure at the corner, which was the drug store of William M. Fulford in the 1860s. The larger addition on the right was erected by his younger brother George T. Fulford, the proprietor of the Dr. Williams Medicine Co. in about 1886.  The Brockville Business College was renting space on the second floor and Mr. A.C.J. Kaufman had his musical instrument store on the ground floor at the time this sketch was finished in about 1888.
Comstock Block -brown- (Gordon 1888)
The Comstock Building, erected in 1888
for William H. Comstock, the proprietor of the Comstock Medicine Co.  This building remained here until about 1965 when it was demolished by the family to avoid paying property taxes.
Two Churches -brown- (Gordon 1888)
On the left, the interior of St. Francis Xavier R.C. Church, opened in 1856, and on the right, St. Peter’s Anglican Church, opened in 1832.


Recreational Activities of Brockvillians

Picnicing -brown- (Gordon 1888)



Skating on the River -brown- (Gordon 1888)



Sailing Races -brown- (Gordon) 1887
Sail Boat Racing
Fishing -brown- (Gordon 1888)
Gun Sport -brown- (Gordon 1888)


Armstrong Railway Ferry -brown- (Gordon 1888)

The Armstrong Railway Ferry, from Brockville to Morristown, NY


Brockville & Westport RR -brown- (Gordon 1888)

Scenes along the Brockville & Westport Railway

Water Tank in Farmersville (now Athens),  the Unionville Station,  and the Newboro Bridge.


Tunnel & Docks -brown- (Gordon 1888)

The Canadian Pacific Railway steamboat wharf and the Brockville Railway Tunnel.


SS Corsican + 2 Sailing Skiffs -brown- (Gordon 1888)


Other Scenes Along the St. Lawrence River


Brockville Business College -brown- (Fred Gordon)

Fred Gordon’s school, the Brockville Business College upstairs at 2 Court House Ave.


GORDON, Fred - Highbury 1891 -brown-

The old Highbury Brewery, facing the Swiftwaters Channel, west of Brockville.


Jones Creek -brown- (Gordon 1887)

On Jones’ Creek, west of Brockville


GORDON, Fred - Smuggler's Cove 1894 -brown-

Smugglers’ Cove, on the river, west of Brockville


From the High Rocks -brown- (Gordon 1888)

Fred Gordon sketching from the High Rocks, east of Brockville.


Hillcrest -brown- (Gordon 1888)

Hillcrest, west of Brockville


Houses in Town and Outside

Oriental Island -brown- (Gordon 1888)Two Homes on Oriental Island, west of Brockville


Idlewilde -brown- (Gordon 1888)

77 Hartley St., Brockville


Fairhaven -brown- (Gordon 1888)

On the River, west of Brockville (now demolished)


Buell House -brown- (Gordon 1887)

Margaret & William Buell Sr. House, 16, 18 Home St. at Water St. W., demolished in 1974

In spite of the claims of the owners, this was not the first stone house built in Brockville.


Rockford & Highbury -brown- (Gordon 1887 )

Rockford on the Prescott Road, east of Brockville, near North Augusta Rd.

Highbury at the foot of Elizabeth St., west of Brockville


GORDON, Fred - sketched himself  -cropped-


His Later Life after Brockville.

Fred Gordon, left his artistic mark in this way in Brockville, but he was looking to his future and moved to New York City for more adventures.  He enrolled at the Art Students League to pursue his art studies and mix with other young artists.

His art career was established for many years as he worked for the Century Magazine as a staff artist submitting decorative work to that publication for many years.

Subsequently in 19o8, he moved in middle age to Westfield, New Jersey where he established a home studio. He then pursued a free-lance career which involved illustrating books for authors and publishers. Along the way he became involved in the public life of Westfield, serving as Mayor for 5 years.

Frederick C. Gordon lived out his later life in Westfield, dying in 1924 after suffering a sudden heart attack when he was only 68 years old. He had rode his bicycle, as was his daily habit, home from the post office after collecting his mail. He was apparently in good hearth.

click here for

The obituary for Frederick C. Gordon from the Westfield, NJ ‘LEADER’ of 26 March 1924

Coloured Postcards of Brockville –1908-12

About 1908-1912 a series of coloured postcards became available in the Town of Brockville. These are perhaps some of the most attractive scenes of how the town looked at that time.

The publishers of these cards varied in that, although the fronts are similar, the rear writing surface varied quite a bit.  Some imprints indicated that some cards were printed in Germany.

The following is a selection of 28 scanned copies, taken from the originals, for you to enjoy.

Brockville Asylum c ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

The Brockville Asylum for the Insane


Brockville from Presbyterian tower ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

A View from the tower of the Brockville Court House


Fulford Block ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

Fulford Building
King St. W. & Court House Ave.


Brockville Asylum b ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

The Brockville Asylum for the Insane


Brockville Asylum ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

The Brockville Asylum for the Insane


Brockville Armoury ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

The Brockville Armoury on King St. East


Brockville City Hall ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

Brockville City Hall at the corner of Market Street


Brockville Collegiate ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

Brockville Collegiate Institute on Pearl St. East


Brockville Waterfront Regatta ca.1910 postcard (enhanced)

Brockville Waterfront Regatta


Carnegie Library ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

The Carnegie Public Library on Buell St.


Court House Ave ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

Court House Avenue


Court House Square ca1910  (enhanced)

Court House Square


Fulford Place ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

Fulford Place on King St. East


King Street looking west ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

King Street looking west from City Hall bell tower


Idlewilde ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

Idlewilde on Hartley St.


King St. W. from CHA ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

King St. W. looking westerly from Jones-Harding Building


St Lawrence Hall ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

St. Lawrence Hall hotel on Church St.


Wall St Methodist Church ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

Wall St. Methodist Church


Waterworks Esplanade ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

Water Works Park on Water St. E.


King St. E from Victoria Hall ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

King St. E. looking from City Hall Tower


King St looking west ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

King Street looking west from Victoria Ave.


Baptist Church ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

Baptist Church on Court House Square


Court House Ave looking south ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

Court House Avenue looking south from Court House Green


Fulford Place ca1910 postcard

Fulford Place from the gardens


King St. W looking west from CHA ca1910 postcard  (enhanced)

King St. W. looking west from Court House Ave.


Brockville Post office on Court House Ave ca1910 postcard

The Brockville Post Office & Customs House on Court House Ave.


George St. Methodist Church ca1910 postcard

George St. Methodist Church facing Court House Square


Water Works Park & Bathing Pavilion ca1910 postcard

Lewis Bathing Pavilion in the Water Works Park on Water St. E.

The Molson’s Bank Building

also known by Brockvillians as the old “Orange Lodge Building”

21 Court House Avenue, Brockville

Hubbell Building d - Court House Ave

  • Began as a three-storey stone house built about 1825 for Dr. Elnathan Hubbell.
  • Re-designed extensively in 1858 by Kingston architect John Power for the Commercial Bank of Canada.

This building has a very long and interesting history. The property is a piece of land given by William Buell to his daughter, Sabina Flynn, the wife of David Flynn, in 1810. She retained possession until 1824 when she sold it to Dr. Elnathan Hubbell for £100.

Hubbell had arrived in Brockville from Vermont about 1806. He, at some point, built a brick house on the main street on the site of the former Woolworth Store (36-40 King St. W.). That house was said to be the first brick house built in Buell’s Bay. It is not known for sure when Hubbell built this stone structure on Court House Ave., what its original purpose was, or even what it looked like originally.

The first known reference to this building was an item in the Brockville Recorder newspaper of August 2, 1833: “Henry Sherwood has removed his office into the large stone house belonging to Dr. Hubbell, situated upon the public ground in front of the Court House”. It has been said over the years that this building was used as a hotel during the War of 1837-38. This may mean that soldiers of visiting militia companies were housed here during the “Patriot” crisis. But no definite proof has been discovered to prove this point. However, we do have a lot of evidence of its use as a bank building for nearly 80 years.

Court House Ave 1849 (from the Maple-Leaf)

This 3-storey building, then owned by Dr. Elnathan Hubbell, stands at the top of Court House Ave. on the right, as depicted in this 1849 engraved illustration from a Canadian magazine, “The Maple Leaf“.

The Brockville agency of the Bank of Montreal was established in Brockville in the year 1843. We don’t know where they first located the bank that year, but the first agent is known to have been James Stevenson who remained in Brockville until 1849. The next agent was Thomas Lee, and a business directory published in 1851 gives the information that the Bank of Montreal was located on Court House Square and, therefore, was leasing space in Hubbell’s Building by that time. The Brockville map of 1853 shows the “Bank of Montreal” on this site and lists F.M. Holmes as the agent.

Map of Court House Square (w label) 1861

From the 1853 map of Brockville, during the period that the Bank of Montreal leased this building from Dr. Elnathan Hubbell.

Dr. Hubbell died on April 8, 1866 at the age of 74, and his property passed into the control of his sons. This was also the time that the directors of the Bank Of Montreal decided to build their, own building. They chose a site south of the Wesleyan Methodist Church (now, Wall St. United Church) on the east side of the Square, and were able to move into their new building in 1857. The same year, one of their competitors, the Commercial Bank, decided to take over their old location on Court House Ave. James and Henry Hubbell sold their father’s building to the Commercial Bank on December 16, 1857 for £1387. James Bancroft is listed as the manager that year and also in 1861.

A recent discovery was made that referred  to this building, in a microfilmed copy of the Brockville Recorder, dated January 14, 1858. It was the announcement that tenders are invited from “parties willing to contract for certain alterations to be made to a house and appurtenances at the corner of Court House Square and Court House Avenue”. The small ad was placed by John Power, Architect of Kingston for the Commercial Bank of Canada. This is the answer to a question about when the building received the alterations that created its present appearance. This is the common look that many Canadian banks were trying to present in the mid-1850s. The Bank of Montreal in its new location looked very similar when it was built the previous year.

The last record we have of the Commercial Bank of Canada, Brockville branch, was in 1867 with J.H. Roper as manager. It is known that later the Commercial Bank failed and had to close all their branches. The Merchant’s Bank of Canada took over their assets, including this building, and put it up for sale in 1869. A Brockville merchant, Thomas R. Sheffield purchased it for $5000.
For two years, while owned by Alphonzo Brooks, a civil engineer, there was no bank here, but on January 3, 1873, a new branch of the Molson’s Bank opened up at 21 Court House Ave. That same year, Brooks sold the building to Mrs. Margaret Hargraves for $6500. The first manager of the Molson’s Bank in Brockville was James W.B. Rivers, who held that position until the end of 1885. The bank, meanwhile, in January of 1874 purchased the building from the widow Hargraves for $8000.

Brockville- Hubbell & Comstock-buildings-1895

In this 1895 photograph, the Molson’s Bank Building is on the left.

Altogether, the Molson’s Bank carried on business here for a total of 51 years, during which time the name “Molson’s Bank Building” became attached to the building previously owned by Elnathan Hubbell. Over the years there was a total of eight managers in charge of the Molson’s Bank in Brockville, but none served as long as James Rivers. While the ground floor was the banking hall it appears that a number of the managers following Mr. Rivers, lived upstairs during their stay in Brockville. In 1925, Molson’s merged with the Bank of Montreal and sometime after, the bank in this building closed.

In 1927 the Directors of the Loyal Orange Lodge No. 1 purchased Hubbell’s Building from the Bank Of Montreal, and for the next fifty years the upstairs housed the Ogle R. Gowan Temple and the Orange Hall.

Later, in the 1950s, another tradition started on the ground floor when the law firm of Jack and Ned Stewart rented office space here. They were the sons of the former Federal Minister of Public Works, Hugh A. Stewart. In 1954, a second law partnership, made up of John Corbett and Howard Musclow, became tenants in the small annex (now demolished) on the south side of this building. In 1956 the two firms were merged and the new firm took the name “Stewart, Corbett & Musclow”. In 1967, Bob Barr joined as the fourth senior partner. The later firm of Stewart, Corbett, Musclow, Barr & Simpson purchased the building in 1976 from the Orange Lodge who had built themselves a new lodge building just to the east of Hubbell’s Building. The law firm took over the entire building for their own purposes, carrying out extensive renovations in 1977.

Presently the two firms of Stewart, Corbett Law Office [John D. Simpson, James N. Eastwood & Michael M. Johnston]  and Michael J. O’Shaughnessy are housed in the building.

Architecturally, Hubbell’s Building is a special example of a large 3-storey office building created in a earlier period of local branch banking. Its present appearance is representative of a style of building erected by the early banks as a symbol of strength and taste.

Historically, it is very hard to determine why this building was built in the first place. As far as can be learned at this point, Dr. Hubbell did not live here at all, or did members of his family. As well as being a medical man, his Interests included operating a grist will on the mill pond west of the Grand Trunk railway station on Perth St.

In any case, this building stands today in a proud position on the edge of
Court House Square and has a lot of tradition contained in its stone walls.

Group Photographs by A.C. McIntyre — 1866

26 December 1855 — from an advertisement placed in the Brockville Recorder.

A.C. McIntyre

Next door to Mr. Lothrop’s, Main Street.

Ambrotypes or Positive Pictures on Glass.

“They are not reversed”

This ad could be the earliest indication that Mr. Alexander C. McIntyre had come to Brockville to begin a very successful career in the pioneering field of photography. “Ambrotypes” were the next improvement in the field after “Daguerreotypes”..


Five gents from Brockville

Five Gents from Brockville



31 January 1866 — from the Brockville newspaper, the British Central Canadian.

Previous to the adjournment of the County Council, and by invitation of Mr. McIntyre, the members in a body visited his gallery, and having formed in a group, had their photograph taken in first rate style.  We have seen the plates and the likenesses are extremely correct.

14 February 1866 — from the Brockville newspaper, the British Central Canadian.


Group photographs are now all the fashion, and our friend McIntyre is fully prepared to please the public.  His room is admirably fitted up for the purpose and he has lately imported from New York a beautiful architectural design for a background.  His group of the County and City Councils, and that of one of the classes of Victoria Common School are very generally admired.  Competent judges pronounce McIntyre’s photographs to be the best in the province.


Brockville Town Council 1866

Brockville Town Council — 1866

Sitting, ( high up in background) – William Fitzsimmons, Mayor

Standing, middle row – (left to right)  James Carron, Councillor, West Ward; Charles Stevenson, Chief Police Constable; Thomas Price, Councillor, West Ward.

Sitting, front row – (left to right)  R. Walker Grant, Councillor, West Ward; James J. Henderson, Councillor, Centre Ward; David Row, Councilor, Centre Ward; George S. McClean, Clerk and Treasurer; Christopher Fletcher, Councillor, East Ward; Edmund J. Senkler, Jr., Councillor, East Ward; John Stagg, Jr., Councilor, East Ward.
MissingRobert Fitzsimmons, Councillor, Centre Ward.


Studends & Teachers of Victoria Common School

Students, teachers and Principal of Victoria Common School — 1866

Boys and girls were taught in separate classes at this time. This is most likely just two of the classes in Victoria Common School on Wall St. They all dressed up for this group shot and walked down to McIntyre’s studio at the corner of Victoria Ave. and King St. In the centre is Mr. William Bigg (P), the principal. He shows up in two pictures here. My guess is that at least two of these young women are the teachers (T).


Common School Board 1866Staff and Trustees of Common School Board — 1866

(standing, back row) Herbert S. McDonald; William R. Bigg, principal, Victoria School; Christopher Fletcher.
(sitting, front row) James J. Henderson; Robert Kinney, teacher, Victoria School; William McCullough, Chairman of the Board; Thomas Price.


Non-Com Militia Officers - 1866

Brockville Rifle Co. – Militia Officers & Non-Comms – 1866

During the lead-up to the anticipated invasion of Canada by the American Fenian Brotherhood, troops and officers of the area Militia Companies were assembled and stationed in Brockville during 1866. These were the officers, corporals and sergeants of the Brockville Rifle Company.  The Rifles wore dark green uniforms.

Beginnings of the Brockville Fire Department — 1832-35

Many of the details of this early firefighting history were found in a small minute book of the first Brockville Board of Police which I had access to when it was stored in Brockville City Hall in the 1980s.   Later, this book, along with a collection of other city documents and books, was deposited in the Archives of Ontario in Toronto.


24 November 1831 — from the Brockville Recorder.

Through the spirited exertions of Mr. Norton and other individuals, means were lately raised, a fire engine purchased, and a fire company formed in the village of Prescott.  Brockville is thus outdone.


9 April 1832 — from the Brockville Board of Police Minutes.

Ordered that Alexander Grant be appointed Captain of the Fire Company and Engineer and that he be directed to raise such a company, which shall consist of forty-eight persons, who will be required to provide themselves with a proper fireman’s uniform at their own expense, and that the said Alexander Grant be instructed to report the names of such persons, as he may select to compose such company, to the Board for their approval.

11 April 1832 — from the Brockville Board of Police Minutes.

Mr. Grant, having been appointed Captain of the Fire Company and Engineer, gave notice to the Board that he would not act.

21 April 1932 — from the Brockville Board of Police Minutes.

Resolved that it is expedient to provide a suitable place for the erection of an engine house, and that an application be made to Daniel Jones, Esquire,  William Buell, Esquire,  and the Hon. Charles Jones, to ascertain whether they have any ground upon the King’s Highway which they will gratuitously lease or sell, and upon what terms, for the purpose, not exceeding twenty foot square.

12 February 1833 — from the Brockville Board of Police Minutes.

Ordered that Mr. (Stephen) Richards be requested to proceed to Brattleborough in Vermont, or such other place as he may think proper, and make such arrangements as he shall thin advisable to procure the delivery of a fire engine at this place, for the corporation, at a price not exceeding £ 150, to be paid for on the delivery; and that his expenses will be paid and a reasonable allowance made for his time and trouble.

Stephen Richards, Sr., a native of Burlington, NY (1791-1863) was a young blacksmith who came to the village of Elizabethtown (later Brockville) about 1810.  He met and married Phoebe, the daughter of William Buell, Sr., the first settler in the village.  They had a family of 5 children. Their three boys, William, Stephen and Albert, became lawyers and leaders in the political life of this province. Following the first years of the Police Village founding, Stephen Richards, Sr. served as the official village street surveyor.

4 March 1833 — from the Brockville Board of Police Minutes.

Mr. Richards, having reported that in pursuance of the order of the Board, passed on the 12 Feb. last, he proceeded to Watertown, and afterwards to Albany and elsewhere, and having examined and procured information from the best sources in his power, on the subject of fire engines, he is of the opinion that the largest of “Rogers’ Patent” engines — one of those designed for 24 men, and discharging 200 gallons of water per minute, would be the most proper and advantageous for the purposes of the corporation.

Resolved, therefore, that Mr. Richards be authorized to write to the manufacturer immediately to order such an engine at the price of  £ 125 to be delivered at Troy in the State of New York.

5 March 1833 — from the Brockville newspaper, the Antidote.


At a meeting on the 27th ultimo., at David Mair’s Inn, of the members of the newly-formed Fire Company of this town, Captain Grant in the chair, and Mr. Thornhill, secretary, it was …

Resolved  first, that the members present highly approve of the appointment made by the President and Board of Police of the town, of Alexander Grant, Esq., as the senior Captain of the Company.

Second, that the name of the company shall be “The Brockville Volunteer Fire Company”.

Third, that the uniform of the company shall be a coat of scarlet, or bright red, with dark blue cuffs and collars, light blue pantaloons with scarlet stripes, blue belts, and a leather cap with canvas flap and leather peak.

Fourth, that John Bogert, Doctor Edmondson, Dr. McQueen, Ephraim Dunham, Daniel Jones, and Henry Thornhill, be a committee to draw up the by-laws of the company.

Fifth, that the company shall be commanded by four officers, to wit, a senior and junior Captain, and a senior and junior Lieutenant.

The Company then proceeded to elect the junior Captain and Lieutenants, when George Glasford was unanimously elected junior Captain; Doctor Edmondson, senior Lieutenant and John Welsh, junior Lieutenant.

A. Grant, chairman

Henry Thornhill, secretary

A meeting of the company will take place on Friday evening at 7 o’clock at the inn of Mr. D. Mair.


6 April 1833 — from the Brockville Board of Police Minutes.

Resolved that tenders be received at the Police Office until Monday 15th of April at 10 o’clock in the afternoon from any person or persons that may be desirous of erecting a framed engine house — having at the same time and plan and specification of the building proposed to be erected.

Alexander Grant was replaced by William Hervey as Captain of the Fire Company.


Rogers' Patent Fire Engin 1830s

A typical hand-pumped Fire Engine, as made by the John F. Rogers Company of  Waterford, New York.  This was the design known as the “Rogers’ Patent” and was produced in the early 1830s.


27 April 1833 — from the Brockville Board of Police Minutes.

The President, having presented to the Board a plan and specification of the Fire Engine House proposed to be erected by the corporation:

Ordered that the same be enclosed to Mr. Francis Hackett, house carpenter, with a proposal to allow him £ 22 for the completion of the whole work, and that he either accept or reject the same by Saturday the 4th of May next

17 June 1833 — from the Brockville Board of Police Minutes.

Ordered that the Treasurer be requested to procure a draft on New York, in favour of John F. Rogers & Co. for £ 125 in payment of the fire engine.

20 July 1833 — from the Brockville Board of Police Minutes.

Francis Hackett submitted to the Board his account for extra work done to the Fire Engine House.

Ordered that the same be allowed to remain before the Board for further consideration.


Ordered that the balance of Mr. Francis Hackett’s account for erecting the Fire Engine House be approved, agreeable to his estimate, and that the Clerk give an order upon the Treasurer for the same.

19 October 1833 — from the Brockville Board of Police Minutes.

Ordered that the Clerk inform Mr. Francis Hackett to complete the Engine House according to estimate, it having been ascertained that the shingles on the rook were not sufficiently laid on.

The Captain of the Fire Company, having made a return of the members of the said company to the Board,

Ordered that the same is approved of by the Board, except that the members of the Board shall not form any of the members of the said company.


Brockville Map 1833

This map shows the layout of the village of Brockville in 1833.  It is unlikely we will know exactly where the new Fire Engine House was located. I based the map on copies of other survey maps done at the time.


15 March 1834 — from the Brockville Board of Police Minutes.

The account of Mr. Philip Clement for repairing Fire Engine  __?__  amounting to £ 2.7.6 was allowed and an order for the amount was directed to be given upon the Treasurer.

23 July 1834 — from the Brockville Board of Police Minutes.

The account of John Gereau (sometimes given as Gero) was presented to the Board and allowed, being for drawing the Engine to the Engine House, 2 different times, it was, therefore, ordered that an order be granted on the Treasurer for the amount, being 2/6 p.

4 August 1834 — from the Brockville Board of Police Minutes.

Ordered that Christopher Leggo be requested to examine the Fire Engin and cause it to be repaired fit for actual service.

Ordered that the appointment of Alexander Grant, Esquire, as Captain of the Fire Company be rescinded and that David Fairbairn be appointed in his place, and that he be requested to raise such a company to consist of not less than 48 persons, who will be required to provide themselves with a proper fireman’s uniform, and that the said David Fairbairn be instructed to report the names of such person, as may compose such company, to the Board for their approval next Monday morning.

Mr. Fairbairn accepted the office of Captain of the Fire Company and Engineer.

18 August 1834 — from the Brockville Board of Police Minutes.

An account was presented to the Board of Police for freight and other charges connected with the forwarding of the Fire Engine to this place, presented on behalf of Bronson & Crocker, by Mr. Hervey, whereupon the Board ordered that the amount of £ 2.18 be allowed, and that an order be given on the Treasurer for that amount.


1 May 1835 — from the Brockville Board of Police Minutes.

Alexander Grant was nominated and appointed Captain of the Fire Company.

5 May 1835 — from the Brockville Board of Police Minutes.

Moved and adopted that Alexander Grant‘s resignation as Street Surveyor be accepted.

Moved and adopted that Stephen Richards be appointed as the Street Surveyor.

8 May 1835 — from the Brockville Board of Police Minutes.

Ordered that Asa W. Graves‘ tender, offering to make 35 buckets at 9 shillings each, be accepted, subject to the inspection of Alexander Grant, Captain of the Fire Company.


Button & Blake Fire Engine ca.1845

Brockville later acquired more refined Fire Engines for the volunteer Fire Companies. This is a typical hand-pumper made by the Button & Blake Co. of Waterford , NY, successors to the Rogers company. This may have been used around 1845


Queen fire engine & Revere Hotel Stage Coach

The “Queen” Fire Engine was apparently used in Brockville, before being acquired by a private owner.  It was donated to Upper Canada Village, where it remains today in their collection.

William Buell, Founder of a City

William Buell, who is generally acknowledged to be the first settler in Brockville, succeeded in putting this city on the map in the early 1800s.

Why Buell arrived at this specific spot on the river and then managed to obtain a grant of land here is not clear. Traditional tales of new arrivals drawing lot numbers out of a hat are recorded at other locations along the St. Lawrence. It is said that the present village of Johnstown, chosen at the beginning as a future town site, was where the disbanded loyalist soldiers of Jessup’s Corps stopped to draw their land tickets.

The land surveyors during the previous winter of 1783-84 had hurriedly laid out the side boundaries of each`river lot. We have learned that Thomas Sherwood, an ensign with the Loyal Rangers, settled with his wife and two sons in the summer of 1784 on what became Lot 1, Conc. 1 of Augusta Township.

William Buell may have come in 1784 to scout the country that was available by himself. It is more likely that he waited until the next year. His wife, Martha, had just learned of a new baby on the way after seeing their first-born, a daughter, die as an infant the previous year.  This second baby which they also named Anna, was born on January 19, 1875 at Lachine, Lower Canada. It is believed that Buell brought out his wife and new baby to the new loyalist land in the spring of 1785.

Buell located himself here at a spot which was a natural stopping place for river traffic ‒ a small bay which later became known as Buell’s Bay. He proceeded to build a rough log cabin before the winter arrived and continued to clear part of the land. On the far western side of this small bay was a projecting point of land covered with a grove of oak trees. This was the area which became known as Oak Point and was located at the foot of the present day Kincaid St.

His first cabin was located back from the shore in the area of Hardy Park. A small river or creek flowed into the St. Lawrence, a short distance west of Oak Point. The creek mouth never did become part of his land grant but further north it travelled through much of his land and was soon named Buell’s Creek for that reason.

The available government land on either side of Buell’s does not seem to have been settled until a few years had passed. In the 1790s, Daniel Jones, a loyalist with some saw milling experience, arrived and proceeded to construct a saw mill near the mouth of Buell’s Creek. He had for a number of years been petitioning the Land Board for mill sites in various other locations in eastern Upper Canada. He settled here, however, built this first mill, and received a grant of 100 acres which ran north from the shore and next to that given to Buell.

From the beginning William Buell worked hard to develop his property. He planted a large apple orchard from seed in 1786. He also built himself a larger, more permanent hewn-log home further north. This second house is indicated on an early map as being on the east side of Home St., north of Water St. As more immigrants arrived in this area he seemed willing to sell off town lots in the area of his home and along the King’s Highway, which eventually ran from Montreal to York. This soon became the main street of the developing village.

It is this resourceful management of his property which must be recognized as leading to his success. His rise from yeoman to gentleman was managed with skill as the opportunities presented themselves. William Buell was obviously somewhat of a promoter and he encouraged new arrivals, many of them from the United States, to settle on his developing town site.

He was a man with definite political ideals. He espoused the liberal ideas of reform at a time when “Yankee democracy” was not very popular in the new Upper Canada. In any case, the electors of the district sent him to represent them in the Parliament of 1801 and he sat in the early Legislative Assembly until 1804. During this period it appears that he removed his family to Pointe Claire in Lower Canada until his term was over.

Perhaps the most important event leading to the development of Elizabethtown (the government name for Brockville from 1810 to 1812) had taken place with the moving of the government offices of the Johnstown District to Buell’s location in 1809. A number of area residents in 1805 had petitioned the Assembly to abandon the Court House and Gaol in Johnstown.

Subsequently, it was decided in 1808 by the government that the Court House at the village of Johnstown was, in fact, located too far away from the western end of the District of Johnstown, an area which ran as far west as Gananoque. A more centrally-located site was sought in the district and the three main landowners at Elizabethtown were quick to respond. Daniel Jones, William Buell, and Charles Jones each offered the government a free plot of land on which to build a new court house and gaol.

After some consideration and a visit to the three sites, it was decided to accept a high piece of land belonging to William Buell. He executed a deed and signed the four acre plot over to the crown on May 16, 1809. This grant of land also included a 60 foot strip of property for a wide road leading down to the River St. Lawrence.

Now the future of Buell’s Bay seemed to be guaranteed. This would be the centre of administrative activity in the District of Johnstown from then on, in spite of bitter protests from residents of Edwardsburgh Township, east of Prescott.

By 1811, 26 years after his first arrival, William Buell was able to have a surveyed village plan drawn up by Jeremiah McCarthy, a senior deputy surveyor. This plan which used both the names, “Elizabethtown” and “Williamstown” was passed down in the Buell family. It showed 26 houses and other buildings and was marked with the names of 20 residents.

But the previously mentioned Charles Jones was ambitious too. He had been a young boy when William Buell was laying his early plans, but now he had come of age, was financially well-off and had powerful family and friends in government. His friends said why not call this growing community “Charleston” since Jones owned a lot of land to the east of Buell, and was willing to sell lots to newcomers. Those wits on the outside of this name-calling, thought that perhaps the name “Snarlingtown” would be more appropriate. The government, however, continued to officially use the name “Elizabethtown”.

Perhaps an appeal for outside help resulted in the fact that sometime in the summer of 1812 the village acquired the name of “Brockville”. The civil and military administrator of Upper Canada was at that time, Major General Isaac Brock whose name and prestige was used to settle this dispute. He was well-aware of the honour given to him in this way, but perhaps we will never know if he had a direct hand in it himself.

The first streets to be laid out in the hamlet of Buell’s Bay were on a rectangular pattern, much on the ancient Roman pattern. It was not the New England way but perhaps was dictated by the direction of the shore and the Kings Highway.

The names of some of these early streets are of interest. Broad Street was the name given by Buell to the wide road leading down from the Court House between the river and the main street. The name was not generally used by people who had never seen Buell’s 1816 map. Mostly it was referred to as lower Court House Ave. or as the road leading down from the Court House. Commercial Street which ran down to the river and passed in front of Buell’s house, later became Home St.

The road opened through Buell’s orchard below the main street became Apple Street. Buell’s Return Street soon became Congo Street named after the former slave and resident Cesar Congo. When this street was officially opened by the Brockville Police Board in 1835, it was named Kincaid Street after another long time resident on the street, Archibald Kincaid. St. Andrew Street may have been inspired by Buell’s father-in-law, Andrew Naughton or perhaps by his son-in-law, André Prévost who lived on the corner of King and St. Andrew Streets.

William Buell was now approaching the latter years of his life. He had three grown up sons to divide his land between, Andrew Norton Buell, Joseph Peters Buell and William Buell, Jr. He also saw an opportunity to help out the religious groups in Brockville who were without permanent quarters.

The Presbyterian congregation of Elizabethtown was the first to receive a donation of land for a church. The deed which he gave is dated 1816, and the land was located just west of the Court House property. They built their first building, a stone structure, possibly as early as 1816, according to Buell’s 1816 map which shows a large rectangular building and is noted “Presbyterian Church”.

The Methodists held meetings in the Court House in the early years as did the Church of England. Buell offered a piece of land, just east of the Court House property, to the Anglicans. Their leaders, including the Jones family, were not thrilled with Buell’s reform politics and instead accepted land in 1819 from the Hon. Charles Jones in the far eastern end of town. The land on the square remained available for a number of years and was eventually given in 1828 to the Methodist congregation who opened their first chapel there in 1830.

The Roman Catholics were also recipients of donated land from William Buell. This took place about 1824 when they built their first church building. This lot was located right on the western edge of Buell’s land. The R.C. parish also received additional land just to the west from the two sons of Daniel Jones about the same time.

William Buell may have had a vision of what his town would look like. A “Connecticut Yankee” by birth, he was quite familiar with the New England village green and was able to visualize such a re-embodiment of this in his new country. The flowing together of such circumstances, as occurred here, have created the pattern which developed into the town of Brockville. Any other landowner may have been content to farm his property and live out his life in a modest way.

William Buell had ambition and perhaps a few lucky breaks, but he managed to make a town out of land which others may have passed over in the initial selections in 1784. Many other people became involved in the development of Brockville, but to “the old squire”, William Buell, must go the credit for such a good start.