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

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.


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



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.

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

Union Flag


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:


from the Evening Recorder
July 2, 1874

Typical Balloon of the period


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.


Map of Court House Square (w label) 1861

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


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”.


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)


 1714 – 1727

George I Kneller 1714

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


1727 – 1760

King George II

George II, son of George I


1760 – 1820

George III

George III, grandson of George II

 1820 – 1830

King George IV

George IV, son of George III


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



1901 – 1910

King Edward VIII

Edward VII, son of Victoria

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



(name adopted July 17, 1917)

1910 – 1936

King George V

George V, second son of Edward VII

George V & Queen Mary & family


1936 – 1936 (abdicated)

King Edward VIII

Edward VIII, eldest son of George V

Wallis & Edward c

Wallis & Edward


1936 – 1952

King George VI

George VI, second son of George V


1952 –

Queen Elizabeth II

Elizabeth II, daughter of George VI

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.

Brockville, by a visiting Journalist – March 1856

This newspaper article about Brockville was republished 24 April 1856

on the front page of the Brockville Recorder.


Written by a correspondent of the Toronto Leader.

21 March 1856

Brockville Court House 1872

The Brockville Court House from an engraving based on a photograph by Geo. B. Murray – Canadian Illustrated News 1872..

The Court House and Jail are very justly the pride of the town.  I know of no county buildings in the province that surpass them.  Erected on the highest eminence in the town, they are possessed of much architectural beauty, and the details of the establishment exhibit great judgement.  From the cupola, I obtained a charming prospect of the town and surrounding country.


Edgar Place, the Matthie House

Edgar Place, the Home of Hannah & William Matthie. William died in 1855.  Their 10-yr-old son, Edgar died in 1857.  At the time of this photograph ca.1890, the owner William J. Christie was standing outside his conservatory. His wife Mary was on the back porch.  Later this became the property of George T. Fulford and he replaced this house with his new home, Fulford Place.

There are several beautiful private residences here, situated at the east end of the town, among which may be mentioned those of Mrs. W. Matthie, Mrs. S. Jones, and Messrs  R.P. Colton, George Morton, and George Crawford, MPP.  These residences overlook the St. Lawrence, are surrounded by fine pleasure grounds, and have conservatories attached to them.

The churches, mercantile establishments, and indeed all the buildings of the town, betoken a liberal spirit.  There are few of those hovels here which are so frequently met with, even in smaller localities.  A Roman Catholic church of large proportions is being constructed of stone, on Church Street, and I understand that the Bank of Montreal will erect during the Summer, a building of the same material for their branch establishment.

The town being very compact, an agitation was commenced a few years since, to consolidate all the Common Schools, and to erect a suitable building in a central position, capable of containing all the scholars of the town.  It was urged that this would give greater facilities for the classification of scholars, and that the elementary and higher branches could thus be taught beneath the same roof, while the school would be essentially a common one.

David Wylie

David Wylie, Editor of the Brockville Recorder

The originators of this liberal movement – Mr. David Wylie and Dr. Thomas Reynolds – at first met with most inveterate opposition; but at length their efforts appear to have been appreciated, for a building upon that plan is now constructed, (at a cost of £ 3,000) and in use, which presents quite a collegiate appearance.  It contains five compartments – two above and two below, for the opposite sexes, and is designed for 400 scholars.  A Catholic Separate School is also in operation, the scholars in attendance numbering about one hundred.

Victoria Common School

Victoria Common School

I visited the extensive stove factory of R.P. Colton, here perhaps the largest in the province.  The moulding room is a large building, 160 x 80 feet, and contains a furnace with a capacity for melting from 15 to 20 tons of metal.  The building used as a warehousing and finishing department, is a four-storey one, and is 100 x 40 feet.

Mr. Colton confines himself exclusively to the manufacture of stoves and mill gearing; and you may form some idea of the extent of his operations in the former branch, when I assure you he turns out annually 4,000 stoves (Brockville Air-Tight), and keeps constantly employed in disposing of them from 20 to 40 pedlars.  The number of operatives employed within his establishment, when in full blast is about 85.  There is hardly a farm house between the Ottawa and St. Lawrence into which his stoves have not found their way.

The foundry is situated on the margin of the river, and the largest class of steamers receive and discharge their cargoes beneath its walls.

East end factories 1874 map

The 3 large factories on the east end of Water St.

The establishment of William McCullough is also deserving of notice.  He turns out annually about 6,000 sets of hames, 700 dozen of scythe snaths, 100 doz. Grain cradles, and about 300 doz. grain shovels, which he wholesales very readily to the hardware merchants of Toronto, Hamilton and London.


(I omitted a long paragraph here on “Reciprocity”)


The Brockville and Ottawa Railway is now in course of construction. The object in building this railway is to afford to the large and fertile country in the rear, access at all seasons to the markets of the United States, as well as to the various sections of our own province.

– population served is nearly 100,000.
– square timber trade.
– sawn lumber to the U.S.

Brockville aided construction with £ 100,000, Elizabethtown £ 50,000, and Lanark and Renfrew £ 200,000.  They hold the first lien on the railroad.

At that time, a preliminary contract was contemplated with Mr. Moore, railway contractor for completion of the road. The former contractors, Sykes, Debergue & Co. Were unable to carry out the contract they entered into.


Willson House 1852

William H. Willson’s new hotel, the Willson House was opened 30 November 1849

5 – 13 King St. W., cor. Market Sq.

While here, I stay at Willson’s Hotel, which justly enjoys a high reputation.  Mr William H. Willson, proprietor, and Mr. John Brennan, assistant, are certainly most successful in making the house a real home to the traveller.

The sleeping apartments and drawing rooms are elegantly furnished, and the chief of the culinary department is certainly mistress of her profession, for I have fared sumptuously every day upon the most appetizing viands.  From its contiguity to the railway station and the steamboat landing, it is a most desirable stopping place to those in pursuit of pleasure or business.


I copied this article out by hand in July 1977, from a copy of the Recorder  dated April 24th, 1856. Near the end, some of the trade description began to bore this scribe, and was left out. Other than that, this is generally complete and accurate.  You may notice that the practice of the day was to use long involved sentences, strung together by commas and “ands”.  These I have retained, but I have broken up some of the long paragraphs where appropriate for this format.

The Cholera Epidemic of 1832

by H. Richards Morgan

The following article appeared in the Recorder & Times on January 29, 1932, one hundred years after the terrifying events of 1832 had long been forgotten by the people of this area. This is Just one of hundreds of stories which appeared in the R&T during the 1930s and ’40s written by the editor, H.R.”Dick” Morgan.

Dick Morgan

Dick Morgan, the writer of this article, while Editor of the Recorder & Times


If this year marks the one hundredth anniversary of the establishment of Brockville as a municipality, it is also the one hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of cholera (politely called “ship-fever”) which raged along the St. Lawrence with the arrival of immigrants from abroad, and which claimed its victims by the hundreds, both from amongst these newcomers and from the established population. In view of the steps which were taken by the community of Brockville to deal with this menace to its health, this year may properly rank as the centenary of the establishment of public health measures in the settlement.

Early in the year 1832, the Canadian newspapers began to publish alarming reports concerning the prevalence of Asiatic cholera on the Continent of Europe and in the British Isles. With the opening of the season of navigation, these reports were followed by information concerning serious outbreaks on the lower St. Lawrence. Gradually the dread disease made its ascent of that stream until by the month of June, its presence was felt in Prescott, Brockville and Kingston.

The authorities of these and other centres took prompt steps to meet the menace which rapidly took the form of an epidemic. So great was the fear of the disease, that on June 19, when there were only a few cases at Prescott, it was stated that business in that community was at a standstill, and the “inhabitants of the village wear the sombre appearance of the Judgment Day.”  Families began to move from Prescott to the country, crews of vessels deserted their boats, and the magistrates ordered the erection of cholera-sheds on Drummond Island, where cases might be treated.

At about the same time the newly-formed Board of Police of Brockville held a meeting, and passed a number of ordinances relating to the outbreak. One of these provided that every boat arrived from Lower Canada, and having on board either immigrants or the baggage belonging to immigrants, should be instantly removed to “the island in the East Ward of the town, or to some other place out of the limits of the town.”  On June 19 it was reported that there were three cases of cholera in the town, one of whom had died.

The outbreak continuing, a Board of Health was formed in the community and cholera-sheds were opened on (“Blockhouse”) island. Here they were tended by some of the physicians of the community, among them a young Scot, Dr. Robert Gilmour, who had been appointed secretary of the Board. Dr. Gilmour contracted the disease and, in spite of the best efforts of his associates, became one of its victims.  (This may not have been the case, according to actual reports written in 1832 at the time of his death. -DMG)  His grave may still be seen in an out-of-the-way corner of the Brockville cemetery. The epidemic also began to affect the established population. On June 28, it was reported that the wife of “Smith, the bell-man,” had died after an illness of only seven hours. Another woman was removed to the hospital on the island and died within 24 hours.

Various cures for the disease began to make their appearance. One of these, submitted by Hiram Norton, who had been member of Parliament for Grenville and who conducted the first stage line between Prescott and Toronto, was as follows: “two tablespoonfuls of charcoal (maple is best); two ditto of hog’s lard; mix together and give two tablespoonfuls when the patient is attacked. Repeat every 15 minutes. Should the patient not be able to retain it on the stomach, melt a teacup full of hog’s lard and pour it down him. When the limbs are cramped, bathe them with warm lye. When the stomach is cramped, foment it with hot brandy. When the patient is recovering, give him soup and chocolate. This has cured every one that has taken it.”

More conventional and less drastic treatment was, however, prescribed by the Board of Health, which recommended the use of the following medicines: laudanum, oil of peppermint, sulphuric ether and spirits of lavender.

By the close of the month of June, Prescott had had 69 cases and 27 deaths; Kingston 147 cases and 47 deaths; St. Regis, 34 cases and 15 deaths; while Brockville had escaped with only eight cases, of which three had proved fatal. By the middle of July, a marked decrease in the number of cases was reported, although patients continued to be taken to the hospital on the island, where some of them passed away.

Four new cases occurred during the week ended on August 9, with three deaths. At that time there had been 21 cases in Brockville, with eleven deaths. Gibson Gilmour, ancestor of a well-known Brockville family, died after only a few hours’ illness. Cases were also reported in Elizabethtown and at Delta. Other deaths were reported. Gradually, however, the outbreak subsided, calm was restored and Brockville and other St. Lawrence Valley communities went about their business in a normal way.

It seems quite clear that but for the prompt measures that were taken by the Board of Health which was established at that time, the mortality in Brockville would have been much greater. The regulations which were adopted and enforced were undoubtedly the means of saving many lives, just as regulations introduced at later periods of epidemic have proved advantageous. And the medical profession, then as upon so many other occasions, carried on its work in complete disregard of the dangers which its members ran, anxious only to bring relief to the suffering, and to save them from a miserable death in the wretched sheds that bore the name of “hospitals.”

The people of Brockville of the present day may regard the epidemic of a century ago with satisfaction in that the possibility of the recurrence of such a visitation is almost too remote to be considered. Nowadays, the health of all people entering the Dominion is carefully scrutinized and special care is taken to guard against contamination from sections of the world where diseases may be raging, and the well-organized and well-equipped health service of this country possesses facilities for readily dealing with any outbreak that may take place.

We should not, however, allow the one hundredth anniversary of this melancholy visitation to pass without giving some thought to the plight in which so many of the immigrants of 1832 found themselves ‒ the ocean separating them from their friends and accustomed surroundings, men, women, and children lying in pain in rude sheds that served as hospitals, and finally welcoming death as a relief from their sufferings, their bodies to be placed in unmarked graves, generally in the form of pits, the whereabouts of which are to this day unknown.


Hospital Island 1833A map of ‘Hospital Island’ which lay just off-shore from the village of Brockville. It was used during the cholera outbreak here as a place of refuge and isolation from the population of the village, for boat passengers wishing to disembark at Brockville.  A hospital and other buildings were built there in 1832. For a short time after, the island was known as ‘Hospital Island’.

We know it now as Blockhouse Island after the log blockhouse put up on the island in 1839.

It was expanded in size in about 1860 by the Brockville & Ottawa Railway who built warehouses, repair shops and a domed roundhouse there.

For those interested, there are also relevant details  on the Local History TIMELINE  on this site, going from 12 June 1832 to 20 July 1832