Historic Architecture

17 December 2012

Brockville City Hall

City Hall c1925 sepia

Victoria Hall  ca.1925


15 April 1863 — from the Brockville newspaper, the British Central Canadian.

Brockville is beginning to show a little activity in business. The snow is fast melting away, and our merchants’ stores are commencing to make a display of their spring importations.

Several schooners are loading with lumber, &c. at the wharf, and the Messrs. Steacy and Booth, the contractors for building the East Ward Market, have a large number of men employed in the erection.


My History of Brockville City Hall:

Part One:

Part Two:



31 January 2013

Thornton Cliff

Catherine & Reuben Colton House

Photo of Thornton Cliff

An early view of Thornton Cliff in a photograph taken about 1865.

275 King Street E., BROCKVILLE
built 1854-1855

One of the most splendid houses in the east end of Brockville is the one known as Thornton Cliff. This “house of many gables” was designed for Reuben P. Colton, a manufacturer of stoves and other foundry products, by William Hay, the celebrated Toronto architect.

Colton came to Brockville from Gananoque in 1842 to set up a new business which he named the Brockville Foundry. Although his time in Brockville was relatively short in term of years, his enterprises had a great impact on the commercial life here. He was one of those businessmen who, through hard work, made, and by accident, lost a few fortunes in his lifetime.

Following his marriage to Catherine Auchinvole of Gananoque in 1850, and during the great success of his iron foundry business in Brockville, Colton began to plan his palatial home on the cliffs facing the St. Lawrence River east of Brockville. Construction of the house was carried out in 1854 and 1855. Numerous craftsmen were employed in the stone masonry and the decorative work on the inside. The style is classified as “Scottish baronial with Tudor detailing” based on buildings in the architect’s native country of Scotland. The architect was William Hay of Toronto.

In 1858, Colton decided to move to New Brunswick and build a foundry there as well. Following an extensive fire in his new plant, he disposed of that business. He then moved back to Brockville. Severe financial problems in 1863 forced him to sell his Brockville properties including this house.

It was eventually acquired by William H.B. Smythe in 1871. We know scarcely nothing about Smythe except that he appeared to live in Chicago, and rented out Thornton Cliff to various tenants over the years.

In 1901 Senator George T. Fulford, who owned the property next door, acquired this property from the Smythe estate for $11,000.

Later Fulford presented Thornton Cliff to his daughter, Dorothy Fulford, about the time of her marriage to young lawyer, Arthur C. Hardy (1872-1962) of Brantford. They were married in September 1904. Senator Fulford, her father, died tragically the following year, following an automobile accident in Newton, Mass. near Boston. When they lived here the property became known as the Hardy estate.
A. C. Hardy, the son of the Premier of Ontario, Arthur S. Hardy, was himself involved in politics as a young man, and was appointed to the Canadian Senate, becoming Speaker of that body in 1930. Dorothy Hardy died in 1949, and Senator Hardy continued to live here until his death in 1962.

It was then sold to Marjorie and Carman Hughes. He was the president of Automatic Electric Company, and they restored and maintained the property in the 1960s and 70s for later owners. It was purchased in 1975 by Guri and Aza Kulikovsky. Guri was a member of the Russian royal family, and a descendant of Queen Victoria. Thornton Cliff is currently owned by Edgar and Rosemary Sexton, who have lovingly renovated this beautiful house for the future.

275 King St. E, Brockville, ON - Thornton CliffThe view of Thornton Cliff taken in the 1960s by Brockville photographer, George Eland. The house faces the St. Lawrence River and looks over a rock cliff.


The William Buell House (built 1820) – four pictures

16 Home St., cor. Water St. W.

Demolished for the Buell-Fitzsimmons Manor in the fall of 1974

Buell House - as drawn by Fred Gordon 1887

The William Buell House (built 1820) – as drawn in 1887 by artist Frederick C. Gordon

Buell House - 1st Floor Plan

The William Buell House (built 1820) – Floor Plan, based on a drawing made in 1963


Wm Buell 1820 House (1972) sm

The William Buell House (built 1820) – north side, in its last years – 1972


Buell House -  demolition Oct. 1974

The William Buell House (built 1820) – during demolition in October 1974


2 comments on “Historic Architecture

  1. Lynne Clifford-Ward says:

    Thanks you for your informative articles and photos re: Brockville!

    Just an observation re: A.C. Hardy’s dates in the above article: Arthur C. Hardy (1872-1862). This should read 1962 I believe?

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