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.

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Brockville Business College logo -brown- (Gordon)

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

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 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.

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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.

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BROCKVILLE  BUILDINGS  OF  INTEREST

 
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Court House Square 1887
First Presbyterian Church and the Brockville Court House on Court House Square.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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Recreational Activities of Brockvillians

Picnicing -brown- (Gordon 1888)

Picnicing

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Skating on the River -brown- (Gordon 1888)

Skating

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

Armstrong Railway Ferry -brown- (Gordon 1888)

The Armstrong Railway Ferry, from Brockville to Morristown, NY

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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.

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Tunnel & Docks -brown- (Gordon 1888)

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

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

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Other Scenes Along the St. Lawrence River

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Brockville Business College -brown- (Fred Gordon)

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

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GORDON, Fred - Highbury 1891 -brown-

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

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Jones Creek -brown- (Gordon 1887)

On Jones’ Creek, west of Brockville

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

Smugglers’ Cove, on the river, west of Brockville

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From the High Rocks -brown- (Gordon 1888)

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

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Hillcrest -brown- (Gordon 1888)

Hillcrest, west of Brockville

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Houses in Town and Outside

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

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Idlewilde -brown- (Gordon 1888)

77 Hartley St., Brockville

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Fairhaven -brown- (Gordon 1888)

On the River, west of Brockville (now demolished)

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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.

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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

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GORDON, Fred - sketched himself  -cropped-

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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

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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

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Brockville from Presbyterian tower ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

A View from the tower of the Brockville Court House

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Fulford Block ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

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

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Brockville Asylum b ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

The Brockville Asylum for the Insane

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Brockville Asylum ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

The Brockville Asylum for the Insane

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Brockville Armoury ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

The Brockville Armoury on King St. East

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Brockville City Hall ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

Brockville City Hall at the corner of Market Street

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Brockville Collegiate ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

Brockville Collegiate Institute on Pearl St. East

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Brockville Waterfront Regatta ca.1910 postcard (enhanced)

Brockville Waterfront Regatta

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Carnegie Library ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

The Carnegie Public Library on Buell St.

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Court House Ave ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

Court House Avenue

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Court House Square ca1910  (enhanced)

Court House Square

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Fulford Place ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

Fulford Place on King St. East

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King Street looking west ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

King Street looking west from City Hall bell tower

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Idlewilde ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

Idlewilde on Hartley St.

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

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

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St Lawrence Hall ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

St. Lawrence Hall hotel on Church St.

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Wall St Methodist Church ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

Wall St. Methodist Church

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Waterworks Esplanade ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

Water Works Park on Water St. E.

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

King St. E. looking from City Hall Tower

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King St looking west ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

King Street looking west from Victoria Ave.

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Baptist Church ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

Baptist Church on Court House Square

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Court House Ave looking south ca1910 postcard (enhanced)

Court House Avenue looking south from Court House Green

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Fulford Place ca1910 postcard

Fulford Place from the gardens

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

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

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Brockville Post office on Court House Ave ca1910 postcard

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

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George St. Methodist Church ca1910 postcard

George St. Methodist Church facing Court House Square

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Water Works Park & Bathing Pavilion ca1910 postcard

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

The Memoir of Adiel Sherwood (1779-1874)

.The following detailed record was written about 1868 by the former sheriff of Leeds and Grenville at the request of Dr. William Canniff of Toronto who was writing a history of the province entitled, History of the Settlement of Upper Canada (1869). Dr. Canniff, however, chose not to use Sherwood’s paragraphs in that book.

Later, the material written by Adiel Sherwood was used and heavily edited in the 1879 publication of the History of Leeds and Grenville by Thad. W.H. Leavitt.  The Leavitt version is printed below.  The unedited original is only accessible in the collection of the Library & Archives Canada, MG24 165 – The Adiel Sherwood Papers.

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At the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, in 1783, the first settlers of Upper Canada were residing in Lower Canada, at and between Quebec and Montreal. Two Provincial corps deserve especial notice; they were stationed at St. Johns, about 27 miles from Montreal, on the south side of the River St. Lawrence. One was commanded by Major Jessup, the other by Major Rogers, the forces under their command being actually the very first settlers of Leeds and Grenville.

About the first of June 1784, they came up, and located along the bank of the St. Lawrence, commencing a short distance west of the Provincial line, and extending even to the Bay of Quinte. The total number of new settlers who entered the Province in 1784 was computed at 10,000.

The river was ascended by means of small boats, called batteaux. These barques were built at Lachine, and were capable of carrying from four to five families each. Twelve boats constituted a brigade. Each brigade was placed under the command of a conductor, with five men in each boat, two of whom were placed on each side to row, with one in the stern to steer. It was the duty of the conductor to give directions for the safe management of the flotilla. When a rapid was ascended, part of the boats were left at the foot, in charge of one man, the remaining boats being doubly manned, and drawn up by means of a rope fastened to the bow, leaving four men in the boat, with setting poles, to assist. The men at the end of the rope walked along the bank, but were frequently compelled to wade in the current, upon the jagged rocks. On reaching the head of the rapid, one man was left in charge, and the boatmen returned for the balance of the brigade.

The Loyalists were furnished rations by the Government, until they could clear the land, and provide for themselves. The seed given consisted of spring wheat, pease, Indian corn, and potatoes. Farming and other implements were provided, consisting of axes, hoes, augers, etc., and, in some instances, a kind of metal mill, in which to grind the corn and wheat. I am not aware that any of the mills were distributed in Leeds and Grenville. Commissioners were appointed to issue the rations and other supplies.

At that time, the country was a howling wilderness. Not a single tree had been cut by an actual settler, from the Province line to Kingston, a distance of 150 miles. By the original survey, the lots were designated by a post planted, plainly marked with the number of each lot.

The following is a short list of the actual first settlers in the County of Leeds, whom I remember:
First was my father, Thomas Sherwood, who was the first actual settler in the counties. He located on lot number one, in the first concession of Elizabethtown, about the first of June, 1784. My father was one of a family of three brothers, named Seth Sherwood, Thomas Sherwood and Adiel Sherwood. Thomas was born at Old Stratford, in the State of Connecticut, in the year 1745. He emigrated to the State of New York, where he located on a beautiful farm, situated about five miles north of Fort Edward, and but a short distance from the spot where General Burgoyne surrendered. Both of my fathers brothers settled in the same neighbourhood.

At the commencement of the Revolutionary Bar, my father remained loyal to the British Crown, and as soon as he could escape, made his way, via Lake Champlain, to St. Johns, Lower Canada, where he found assembled a large number of British troops. He was at once employed in the Secret Service, going into the States and enlisting men to serve His Majesty King George III. His family remained in the States until 1779, when they removed to St. Johns, and he was appointed a subaltern officer in Major Jessup’s corps. Both of his brothers entered the Continental army as officers.

My father was frequently called upon to run the side lines of the lots for the first settlers, and to show them the location of their land. Though not a legalized surveyor, he had the instrument, and understood its practical use. He was ever ready to give his assistance and advice to the new-comer, and rendered great service in promoting the settlement of the county. He was made a captain in the first regiment of Leeds, becoming a magistrate when the first commission was issued. At that time, magistrates were legally qualified to perform the marriage ceremony; and he probably united in the holy bonds of matrimony more individuals than has ever fallen to the lot of any clergyman in the United Counties, with the exception, perhaps, of the Rev. William Smart.

I have frequently heard him mention the circumstance of a young man asking him to perform the ceremony, at the same time confessing that he had no money, but promising to make a good wheat fan. The offer was accepted, and, in due time, the fan was delivered. An old man once came on the same errand, his offer being a corn basket, with oak splints, and so compactly,,that it was ‘warranted to hold water.’ It is needless to say that he was made happy.

My father lived on the farm on which he first pitched his tent, and died there in 1826. I am happy to say that he lived in comfort, and died in peace.

SHERWOOD -Adiel (ca 1850 by Lock) sepia

Adiel Sherwood in a painting by Frederick W. Lock ca.1850

The following are the names of a many of the early settlers in the County of Leeds: Joseph White, Asa Webster, David Kilborn, Reuben Mott, Henry Mott, Conrad Peterson, Jonathon Mills Church, Edward Leahy, Henry Elliott, Bartholomew Carley, Levius Wickwire, Jonathon Wickwire, William Buell, Bemsley Buell, Jonathon Buell, Samuel Wright, William Wright, Abraham Elliott, Adam Cole, John Cole, Jonathon Fulford, Captain Joseph Jessup, Six Mutchellore, Ensign Thomas Smith, Enoch Mallory, Elisha Mallory, Joseph Buck, Asa Landon, Sr., Alexander Bernard, Henry Manhard, Lieutenant James Breakenridge, Ruggles Munsell, Matthew Howard, Stephen Howard, John Howard, Peter Freel, Terence Smith, James Miller, Daniel McEathron, John McEathron, Daniel Shipman, Joseph McNish, Levi Hotchkiss, Robert Putnam, James Cooney, Henry McLean, Robert McLean, Alan Grant, Joseph White, Jr., William Clow, John Munroe, and Levi Comstock.

The distance from the Province line to my father’s farm, three miles below Brockville, was 95 miles, and to the port this side of Kingston, 50 miles. At the end of each mile was planted a red cedar post, having marked on it the number of miles from the Province line. This line of road was made some years after the first settlement, but I have forgotten the year.

For many years, the first and only legalized clergyman, within a hundred miles of this part of the Province, was Parson Stuart, who was a member of the Episcopal Church. The next clergyman, I believe, was the Rev. Mr. Bethune, a Presbyterian clergyman, who settled near Cornwall. Next was the Rev. Mr. McDowell who located on the Bay of Quinte. He came from the United States, about the year 1800, and on his way stopped in the neighbourhood of Brockville, where, at that time, I was teaching a common school. I believe that the first public prayer he ever made in Canada was at an exhibition of my school, on the day of his arrival.

In 1811, the Rev. William Smart arrived in Brockville, being the first minister of any denomination to settle in that place, or, for that matter, within fifty miles of it.

The first doctor was Solomon Jones, domiciled about seven miles below Brockville. He was one of the early settlers, and the first in point of education and respectability.

One of the first magistrates, and after some time, Judge of the District Court, was Samuel Sherwood, who had studied law with Lawyer Walker, in Montreal, for two or three years. He was the first lawyer appointed in the District of Johnstown; Jacob Farrand, the first in the eastern District; McLewen, of Kingston, and the father of the late Judge Hagerman, the first in the Bay of Quinte. The lawyers were all appointed by authority vested in the Lieutenant- Governor of the Province, authorizing him to appoint a certain number of persons, such as he considered qualified to discharge their duties― hence arose the by-words, “Heaven-born lawyers.”

School teachers were often employed for three or six months only, as boys could not attend in the summer.

I recollect seeing pigeons flying in such numbers that they almost darkened the horizon, and so low, often, as to be knocked down with fish-poles. I saw where a near neighbour killed thirty at one shot.

When I was a boy, probably about thirteen or fourteen years old, I went, in the autumn, on a fishing excursion, to a place called Sandy Creek, on the south side of Lake Ontario, being in company with four men, in a Canadian batteaux. At that place, I saw ducks flying in immense numbers, round and over a marsh; when they rose, they made a noise like the roar of very heavy thunder.

Not many years since, I rode out with a gentleman to Temperance Mills, situated near Temperance Lake, where a small spring keeps open all winter. The fish resort to the spring in the coldest weather. During our visit we actually caught a large number of fine fish, scooping them out with a long-handled frying-pan.

I will now detail to you a short history of myself, and some personal observations of an early date.

I was born on the 16th day of May, 1779, on a farm near Fort Edward, New York. I was brought to St. Johns, in Lower Canada, while at my mother’s breast. When I was five years old, my father removed to the banks of the St. Lawrence, coming up with the first brigade of batteaux. I saw the first tree cut in the United Counties by an actual settler; the first hill of corn and potatoes planted, – but alas!- where is the axe, or the man who did the work? Not a single individual, that I am aware of, is now living of the first settlers, but myself.

While many difficulties were encountered in the early settlement, yet we realized many advantages. We were always supplied with venison; deer were very plentiful, partridge and pigeons in abundance, plenty of fish for all who wished to catch them, no taxes to pay, and an abundance of wood at our doors. Although deprived of many kinds of fruit, we obtained the natural productions of the country — strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, blackberries, and plenty of red plums. The cranberries were found in abundance in the marshes.

The only animal which we brought with us was a little dog named Tipler, that proved almost invaluable in hunting.

After the first year, we raised a supply of Indian corn, but had no mill to grind it, and were, therefore, compelled to pound it in a large mortar, manufacturing what we called “samp” which was made into Indian bread, called, by the Dutch, “suppawm.” The mortar was constructed in the following manner: we cut a log from a large tree, say, two and a half feet in diameter, and six feet in length, planted it firmly in the ground, so that about two feet projected above the surface; then carefully burned the centre of the top, so as to form a considerable cavity, which was then scraped clean. We generally selected an ironwood tree, about six inches in diameter, to form the pestle; and many a time have I pounded at our mill, until the sweat ran merrily down my back. Although this simple contrivance did well enough for corn, it did not answer for grinding wheat. The Government, seeing the difficulty, built a mill back of Kingston, where the inhabitants, for seven miles below Brockville, got all their grinding done. In our neighbourhood they got along very well in summer by lashing two wooden canoes together. Three persons would unite to manage the craft, each taking a grist. It generally took about a week to perform the journey. After horses were procured, kind Providence furnished a road on the ice, until the road was passable by land. What is wonderful is, that, during the past fifty years, it has not been practicable for horses and sleighs to traverse the ice from Brockville to Kingston, such a way having been provided only when absolutely necessary for the settlers.

Lieutenant Breakenridge, who I believe, was a lieutenant in Major Roger’s corps, was appointed at an early period as Lieutenant of the County of Leeds, being authorized to make arrangements necessary for the formation of the militia, commissioning the respective officers and organizing the force. I received an ensign’s commission in the First Regiment of Leeds Militia, under his command as colonel. At that time I was but seventeen years of age. From Francis Gore, Lieutenant-Governor of the Province, I received a commission as adjutant; by General Brock I was created a captain; by Sir Peregrine Maitland, a major, In 1830, Sir John Colborne conferred upon me the rank of Colonel of the First Regiment of Leeds. In June, 1813, I was appointed Paymaster of the Eastern and Johnstown Districts; the same year I became Treasurer of the District of Johnstown, and was placed on the commission as a magistrate. In 1815, I received the appointment of D.F. Clerk of the Crown for the District. In 1816, I was made Commissioner for the Branch Roads in the same district. In 1819, I was appointed a member of the Land Board; and in 1829, Sheriff for the District of Johnstown.

After fifty years service as a militia officer, I resigned, and was gazetted as retiring with the full rank of colonel. After my appointment as Sheriff, I resigned my office as Treasurer, which I held for twenty-five years; and, last of all, I resigned my situation as Sheriff, having officiated in that capacity for thirty-five years.

Adiel Sherwood

Old Court House 2 1879

Sheriff Adiel Sherwood worked for many years in the old Brockville Court House, as depicted in this old drawing.

In addition the following shorter letter was written by Sheriff Sherwood to Dr. Canniff:

Brockville, March 10th 1868

Dear Sir:

In answer to your letter, as regards slaves, I only recollect two or three who were settled in the District of Johnstown. One coloured man, in particular, named Caesar Congo, was owned by Captain Justus Sherwood, the grandfather of Mr. George Sherwood, County Judge at Belleville. Captain Justus Sherwood came, with his family, in the same brigade of boats with my father, and located two miles above Prescott. I recollect distinctly Caesar Congo, then a stout young man. He often took the late Mr. Justice (Levius P) Sherwood (who died at Toronto) (and was a son of Justus Sherwood) and myself on his back, to assist us in walking, while the boats were being drawn up the rapids. The boys used to call Caesar, Scippio. Caesar was sold to a half-pay officer, Mr. Bottom, who settled about six miles above Prescott. After twenty years’ service, Mr. Bottom gave Caesar his freedom. Caesar then married a free coloured woman, and settled in the Town of Brockville, where he lived many years, and died. Daniel Jones, Esq., father of the late Sir Daniel Jones of Brockville, had, at one time, a female coloured slave. There were also a few more slaves residing in the District, but so far from my residence that I can give no account of them from personal knowledge.

The first Lodge of Free Masons that I am aware of, was held in the Township of Elizabethtown, near Brockville. I am unable to give the precise date. The members consisted principally of half-pay officers, who were located along the bank of the St. Lawrence. I understood that they met under a travelling warrant. It was some years after the settlement of the Province that the regular organization of the fraternity took place. I believe it was accomplished by Mr. Jarvis, who came out as Secretary of the Province, and acted under the appointment of the Duke of Sussex, then Grand Master; Mr. Jarvis assuming the duties of Provincial Grand Master, and issuing the necessary warrants.

Adiel Sherwood

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Sherwood Adiel

Adiel Sherwood in 1872

Adiel Sherwood retained his position as Sheriff of the District for 35 years until he gave up the job in 1864. He had married Mary Baldwin (1882-1854), the daughter of Stephen Baldwin, a native of Conn., on October 11, 1801. Their family consisted of one son and seven daughters. They were Julia, William, Mary, Sophia, Maria, Caroline, Amelia, and Harriet. He died in Brockville on March 25, 1874 having almost attained the aged of 95.

Brockville in 1852

A selected excerpt from Canada: Its Growth and Prospects”,

two lectures delivered before the Toronto Mechanics Institute

on the 13th and 27th February 1852, by the Rev. Adam Lillie:

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BROCKVILLE

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Brockville has a population of about 3400, and is “the capital” of the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville. Here the public buildings are located and the principal courts and sittings of the Counties municipality are usually held.

It is situated on the banks of the St. Lawrence. That noble river in front, rolling its clear waters onward to the ocean; while westward to the great inland lakes, the vision is lost amid numerous beautiful islands that lie scattered upon its surface; and eastward with the stream, immediately below the town, three islands break upon the view. These islands present a continuous chain, at irregular distances, from shore to shore, a distance of about 5000 feet, which at a future day, not far distant in these days of rapid progression in Canada, may form the foundation for the piers of a railroad bridge to span the St. Lawrence and connect Canada with the United States. The level of the shores on either side, a short distance back from the edge of the river, are about 100 feet above high water level.

Brockville is to be one of the terminus of the proposed “Lake Huron and St. Lawrence Railroad”, which has been surveyed, and for which plans and specifications are now in course of preparation. The distance hence to Georgian Bay on Lake Huron is said to be under 200 miles, through a country, the greater part of the way, is most favourable for constructing a railroad, and which will offer great inducements for the emigrant to become a settler on the wild lands adjoining the route.

The distance from Brockville to Montreal is about 146 miles, which is reached by steam navigation in 12 or 14 hours, passing through the far famed rapids of the St. Lawrence, or by railroad through the northern front of the State of New York, for about three-fourths of the distance, in 10 to 12 hours. It is distant from New York and Boston; from the later about 400 and from the former about 500 miles, which may be made by railway most of the distance in 20 to 30 hours.

Brockville 1848 engraving (based on Wm Sherwood sketch)

A view of Brockville from the St. Lawrence River. This engraving is dated 1848 and was based on a drawing done by Brockville lawyer, William Sherwood.

Not less than eight of the largest and first class steamers from Canadian and American ports touch at the wharves daily, during the season of navigation, independent of the very many smaller steam and sail craft, offering hourly unlimited facilities for the transport of property and for travel east and west.

The town is chiefly supported by the agriculturists in rear, whose fine farms are scattered over the land, and weekly pour in their surplus productions over the turnpike, macadamized, and plank roads, to be exchanged for the manufactures of the town, or those from Britain and the United States.

A number of valuable manufactories are carried on, embracing a large factory for farming utensils, some of which made a most creditable display in the Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851, one stove foundry and machine shop, and another in course of erection, a flouring and two saw-mills driven by the waters of ” Mill Creek,” which mingle with the St. Lawrence at the western end of the town. A steam saw-mill and planing-mill, three tanneries, with many and various other mechanical trades and occupations are in successful operation and employment. There is also an extensive brick-yard, and a commodious ship-yard.

Merchants stores, with goods from the four corners of the globe, are here in abundance; three bank offices of discount, telegraph office, post office, custom office   this port being also a warehousing port   and last, though not least, the town boasts of two weekly newspapers, the Recorder and the Statesman, which have large circulation in the adjoining counties. There is also in the town an extensive public library, and a well conducted reading-room, in which may be found the leading journals of Canada, Britain, and the United States.

We cannot do better than close this brief and imperfect description by extracting from a correspondent’s letter in the Recorder of 8th April last, a sketch of Brockville:

“Few towns in North America, and none in Canada, will compare with Brockville, in the beauty and healthfulness of its site. Situated upon a gently rising ground, on the summit of which stands the Court House, a model of architectural elegance and substantiality, with its classic Figure of Justice overlooking all beneath it. Immediately in rear the grounds beautifully undulate like the summer ocean, and coursing along the base of these undulations, like the great Sea Serpent amid the billows of the ‘mighty deep’ is Mill Creek, whose waters drive the busy ‘click clack’ of various machinery. Immediately to the east and to the west, some of them embowered in trees, rise the lofty spires of numerous stone, rough cast, and brick churches, where meet our towns-people to serve their God, none daring to make them afraid. In front, and away to the right and left, are many solid and handsome private dwellings, not a few surrounded by choice gardens, orchards, and other useful conveniences so necessary to good.

Up and down the Main Street are numerous substantial and handsome brick, rubble, and cut-stone stores, hotels, and other places of business. Still further off, upon Water Street, is seen the superfluous steam issuing from the work shops of the industrious and enterprising bee-hive like manufacturer and mechanic. Richly studded with islands in front, above and below the town, the ‘mighty St. Lawrence,’ touching the banks of the great and growing Republic, rolls its clear waters to the ocean, and floating, in season, ‘Watt’s’ life-moving palaces laden with the hardy emigrant from our father-land, and the fruits of trade and commerce, or the produce of the backwoodsmen and toiling agriculturist.”

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.

Aeronaut Prof. Squires Provides an Exciting Dominion Day in Brockville – 1874

Union Flag

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The history of Brockville has seldom known the activity and excitement of one day which was celebrated here in Brockvllle over a century ago. On that day, July 1, 1874, the town was filled to capacity with citizens and visitors who had come to celebrate the Confederation of our country. It was estimated by the local press that perhaps 10,000 people were on the streets of Brockvllle on that Dominion Day in 1874. The organizers of this event had done themselves proud.

Large numbers of persons had arrived from Clayton, Alexandria Bay, Gananoque, Cornwall, Morrisburg, Prescott, Watertown, Ogdensburg, Ottawa, and many of the principal villages and towns in between.

The day’s programme was full. The morning began on the river with a regatta of sailboat races. At 11 o’clock a thrilling parade of local tradesmen stated off along Buell, Pearl, Perth, and then back along King Street. Most of the local industries had mounted elaborate floats. Represented were James Smarts Novelty Works, Cossitt Bros. Implement Factory, Brockville Agricultural Works, Tilley & Briggs Sash Factory, T. Gilmour & Co., and Wood Bros. Cigar Factory, along with others. King St. by this time was so clogged with people the procession had difficulty moving.

Brockvllle was also hosting several companies of visiting volunteer firemen. Firemen from Ottawa, Prescott, and Almonte were here to add to the festivities. It was reported that the Mississippi Fire Company of Almonte arrived by excursion train from Ottawa along with 33 car loads of people. The firemen, along with local bands and dignitaries led off on a procession through town at one o’clock. In the afternoon, the Almonte firemen worked hard in competition to throw a stream of water 202 feet 7 inches, more than 28 feet farther than their closest competitors, the Chaudiere Company from Ottawa.

But it was later in the afternoon that the event which has made this day famous in Brockville history was scheduled to take place. An American by the name of Herman D. Squires, a practitioner of the art of balloon flight, had been invited by the Dominion Day organizers to attempt an ascension from the centre of Brockville in one of his balloons. A reporter from the Evening Recorder described the event with all the thrills of the moment:

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from the Evening Recorder
July 2, 1874

Typical Balloon of the period

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The Balloon Ascension

At five o’clock p.m., Professor Squires [ Herman D. Squires] of New York, the daring aeronaut attempted to ascend with his famous balloon, the “Atlantic”. The starting point was Court House Square. The professor regarded the situation particularly dangerous in a high wind, as the square is flanked on each side by lofty buildings, including the Court House, Bank of Montreal and Wesleyan Methodist Church.

During the afternoon the balloon, which was being inflated with hydrogen gas, was the centre of attraction, and at the time of starting, fully ten thousand people had assembled to witness the voyage in mid-air.

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Map of Court House Square (w label) 1861

Brockville’s Court House Square. The site of the balloon launch

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The Atlantic is constructed of a peculiar quality of muslin, very thin and soft in texture, but when oiled, capable of holding the gas. The netting which envelops the balloon is double and twisted silk, and the ropes by which the netting is attached to the basket are about 3/8 of an inch in diameter. The basket is constructed of strong wicker work, being about three feet in diameter and two feet in depth. The ropes by which it is attached to the balloon are woven in so as to pass completely in under the same.

During the day several small balloons were sent up to show the direction of the wind. From experiments thus made, it was shown that the principal danger was the Bank of Montreal and the W.M. Church. Previous to starting, it was determined to remove the balloon from the place where it was inflated to a point nearer the Court House, with the expectation that the Atlantic would pass to the north of the spire.

The cargo in the basket consisted of three bags of sand, weighing each about fifty pounds, a grappling iron, to which was attached a strong rope, and Professor Squires, who was to start upon his 187th voyage amid the clouds. All being in readiness orders were given to cast off; there was a hush and the multitude grew silent as the unwieldy Atlantic, being freed, swayed backwards and forward, and slowly rose from its resting place to make another voyage in the ethereal blue.

 

Typical Gentleman Aeronaut

We have no pictures of Herman D. Squires, but he may have resembled this “Gentleman Aeronaut”.

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A steady gale had been blowing all day, but its strength was not apparent until the balloon struck the current of air above the house tops. This reached, it swayed with the breeze, and swept on at a rate of at least fifteen miles an hour. Its course was directly for the steeple of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. The Professor at once perceived the danger, and could have avoided it by throwing out a bag of ballast, which would have given him sufficient buoyancy to have passed over the steeple. But, unfortunately, the square below was crowded with thousands of spectators, and a bag of sand thrown out would have crushed some person below. The sand was thrown out in small quantities, and the balloon swept upward and onward, but, unfortunately, not swerving from its dangerous direction, it became apparent that the balloon would strike the spire.

The watching, anxious, breathless multitude awaited the shock with compressed lips and blanched cheeks. With a tremendous rush the Atlantic struck the apex of the spire, and in another instant parted in twain. At the same moment, the basket containing the daring aeronaut crashed against the spire some twenty feet below. Seeing as it were instant death before him, Prof. Squires threw one hand forward to avert as far as possible the shock, at the same time allowing his body to sway in the opposite direction.

The crash of the collision resounded over the square, now silent as the grave. As the balloon collapsed and the gas escaped it was seen that the netting had caught on the point of the spire. A moment of breathless suspense. Squires was not seen to move a muscle; a whisper ran round; the collision has killed him. Then a slight movement, and the basket began to slip; it was evident that the netting was giving away. Women grew white with terror, brave men trembled. There, at a height of eighty feet above the earth, was a fellow being hanging by a few slender threads, above and around him, the glittering steeple sheeted with tin, below the cold stone battlements of the tower, on which to fall was instant death.

A pause, and the basket had evidently been arrested in its downward course. Squires was seen to grasp the netting. Hope rose, he might be saved.

The moment he struck the spire there was a rush for ladders and ropes. Without number were the plans suggested to save him from death. But at this moment, brave men were clambering up the inside of the grim church tower, determined to save a human life.

Wall Street Methodist Church 1875

The Wesleyan Methodist Church, where the balloon was caught on the spire.

This is now the greatly-enlarged Wall St. United Church.

A small window directly below the eaves of the tower opens directly beneath where the basket was suspended, but, unfortunately, it was very contracted, and it did not seem possible for a man by any means to squeeze through the aperture. But in a few seconds a man thrust his head through the window, and a board was pushed out of the lower portion of the opening, the end on the inside being held by men within. Then began a struggle. It was apparent that a man was endeavouring to crawl through the narrow hole out upon the board. The clothes were torn from his person in the attempt, but inch by inch he gained, and at last was seated on the board directly below the basket.

The situation was one of great danger. Should the netting give way, the basket in its descent would catch the daring man and hurl him, together with Squires, into eternity.

At his appearance there was a cheer that made the firmament ring again. The heroic man who thus risked his life to save a fellow-being in distress was Arthur Osment. It was seen when Osment stood up that he could not assist Squires from his perilous position.

The main body of the net work had caught on the northern side of the spire, only two or three small cords having passed around the other side, and these when the basket slipped became slack. The least motion on the part of Squires would have precipitated him upon the stone steps below.

Osment spoke to Squires, who requested him to place his shoulder under the basket. This being done, Squires caught hold of a slight oval projection on the spire, which offered a slight hold, and thus helped to support the basket. At this instant, Mr. Andrew Stevenson appeared at an opening in the spire above Squires. The opening consists of a small trap door and was not discovered for some time.

Another cheer went up, as Stevenson came out upon the spire, reached down a hand and firmly grasped the aeronaut, and slowly drew him up to a place of safety. The suspense was over and Squires was saved.

Stevenson displayed great presence of mind and courage, and deserves well the praise that was showered upon him. On Squires perceiving a person above him, he enquired, “Can you hold me?” Stevenson replied, “I can lift you if you weigh a ton.” Evidently the right man was in the right place.

We learn from Professor Squires that when thrown against the spire he was rendered insensible for a moment or two, but recovered his senses on hearing some person shout to him from the inside of the steeple. His injuries consist of concussion of his side and a bruised knee. The professor is without doubt a brave man and displayed coolness, firmness and judgment while in his perilous position. The accident was caused solely by the current of air which could not be ascertained from the ground, and no discredit reflects on Mr. Squires.

Through the exertions of Messrs. Osment, Stevenson, McDougall and Pyke, assisted by several others, the remains of the balloon were removed from the spire. A collection was taken up to defray in part the expense caused by the loss of the Atlantic. We understand about $75 was raised.

The professor departed for Troy this morning, where he is to ascend with another balloon on the 4th of July.

The day’s activities still went on in spite of this near tragedy. The regatta continued after supper time with numerous rowing events till almost darkness. Then a foot race through the downtown streets was witnessed by crowds of onlookers  A man named Loverin from Ottawa sprinted far ahead, and left his four competitors, far behind at the finish.

The day ended finally with a torch light procession, There were many who would be able to remember the events or that day for years afterward.

British Monarchs (1714-present)

British Coat of Arms (1816-37)

HOUSE OF HANOVER

 1714 – 1727

George I Kneller 1714

George I, son of Elector of Hanover and Sophia, granddaughter of James I

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1727 – 1760

King George II

George II, son of George I

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1760 – 1820

George III

George III, grandson of George II

 1820 – 1830

King George IV

George IV, son of George III

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1830 – 1837

King William IV

William IV, third son of George III

1837 – 1901

Queen Victoria 1887

Victoria, daughter of Edward, fourth son of George III

Queen Victoria with her family - 1894

The Family of Queen Victoria – picture taken in Germany 1894

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HOUSE OF SAXE-COBURG AND GOTHA

1901 – 1910

King Edward VIII

Edward VII, son of Victoria

King Edward VII & his familyThe Family of King George V & Queen Alexandra.

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HOUSE OF WINDSOR

(name adopted July 17, 1917)

1910 – 1936

King George V

George V, second son of Edward VII

George V & Queen Mary & family

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1936 – 1936 (abdicated)

King Edward VIII

Edward VIII, eldest son of George V

Wallis & Edward c

Wallis & Edward

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1936 – 1952

King George VI

George VI, second son of George V

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1952 –

Queen Elizabeth II

Elizabeth II, daughter of George VI