Brockville History TIMELINE


(A Work in Progress — come back regularly)


Summer 1784 — The arrival of the first United Empire Loyalist settlers in this area.


A camp of Loyalists at New Johnstown [later Cornwall][as drawn in 1784 by James Peachey]

A camp of Loyalists at New Johnstown [later Cornwall]
[as drawn in 1784 by James Peachey]


1808 — The site was selected for the new District of Johnstown Court House and Gaol.

1810 —  The opening of the first Court House in Brockville was accompanied by a struggle for the Coat of Arms between the residents of Johnstown and some Brockville residents.  The prisoners were moved to the new gaol on September 10, 1810.

[from Buell's 1816 map of Brockville]

[from Buell’s 1816 map of Brockville]


1811 —  A young Presbyterian minister, William Smart, arrives in Brockville from England to minister to Presbyterians in this area.

Rev. William Smart ca1825

Rev. William Smart   ca.1825

1812 — A naval battle took place off Brockville between the “Duke of Gloucester”, the “Earl of Moira” and the “Julia”.

6 February 1813 — Forsythe’s raid on Brockville. This took place across the ice from Morristown, NY.   Prisoners in the Brockville Gaol were freed and a number of local militiamen were captured and taken to Morristown, where all but the highest ranging officer, Bartholomew Carley, were released.

Map of Village of Elizabethtown 1811

(drawn by Doug Grant, based on an early map dated 1811)

6 February 1829 — from the newspaper, The Brockville Gazette:

A fire took place on Wednesday morning in a building belonging to Mr. Chase of this place, situated at the back of Mr. Fox’s chair manufactory.  It appears that it was occasioned by some shavings having been left too near the fireplace by a carpenter who had been at work. Every assistance was rendered by the inhabitants, but without effect, as the house was burnt to the ground.  It is surprising that in a flourishing place like Brockville, no means have been taken to provide against the destructive consequences of fire.

We understand that a subscription was some time ago entered into for the purpose of providing a fire engine, and the necessary apparatus, but owing to the lukewarmness of some of the richest inhabitants the affair fell through.


The Balloon

A Mr. Fairburn of this place lately constructed a paper balloon, which he set up on Thursday week last, for the amusement of the young folks. — There is a very entertaining article in the last Recorder on the subject. — We understand Mr. Fairburn intends soon to give us another exhibition of the same kind.

27 March 1829 — from the newspaper, The Brockville Gazette:

DIED — On Wednesday morning, the 25th inst. Permela, wife of Mr. Steel Smith, merchant of this place, aged 36 years.

3 April 1829 — from the newspaper, The Brockville Gazette:

On the 1st inst. the inhabitants of this town were highly gratified by the ascent of a large fire balloon prepared by Mr. Fairburn, the weather was extremely unpropitious and owing to some mismanagement of his assistants the ascent was not so rapid as was anticipated.

We understand that the machine ignited near the home of a respectable inhabitant four miles from this place, and that he has since ascertained that there was a diabolical scheme to set his house on fire, as some mischievous rascals actually pulled down the balloon after the strings had been cut and gave it the exact direction of his dwelling.

29 May 1829 — from the newspaper, The Brockville Gazette:


On the night of Monday last, Mr. Spafford of this town, having detected some evil disposed person in the act of defacing the sign of his store, pursued and overtook him — a scuffle ensued; but from weakness, through recent ill health, Mr. Spafford was overpowered, and obliged to call for help.  Some of the neighbours hurried to his assistance, but did not arrive in time to secure the offender.

We have heard it remarked that a little more exertion on the part of the magistrates might prevent such depredations.  We can only say that, notwithstanding the lateness of the hour, we know that one of the most respectable magistrates of this place, who was awakened from his sleep by the cries of murder, was the first person who hastened to Mr. Spafford’s relief.

19 June 1829 — from the newspaper, The Brockville Gazette:

DIED — On Wednesday last of a brain fever, after a short illness, Mr. Richard Giffin, a master mason of this place.  He is to be interred today in the burying ground at Lamb’s Pond where the Rev. Mr. Wenham will perform the funeral service.


Spring 1830 — A census of Brockville, conducted early in the Spring, counted 954 souls in the town.

12 August 1830 — Paul Glasford chaired a meeting at the Brockville Coffee House where those attending decided to apply to the Upper Canada Assembly to have Brockville incorporated. A further meeting was called for five days later.

17 August 1830 — A second meeting was held in Brockville to discuss having a Police Village established here.  A decision was made to draft a petition to be send to the Upper Canada Assembly asking for the Incorporation of Brockville.

4 September 1830 — A third town meeting dealing with the incorporation adopted a petition drafted by a four-man committee. The meeting then directed a committee to draft a proposed Bill.  Also to be included was a request for a Market area in the town.

28 October 1830 — Ephraim Dunham was elected President of the newly-formed Brockville Independent Club, an organization dedicated to electing a loyal, patriotic, Independent Conservative  Member of the Provincial Assembly.

November 1830 Ogle R. Gowan arrives in this area from Ireland.

Ogle R. Gowan

Ogle R. Gowan

William Buell, Jr.(as drawn by Frederick W. Lock ca.1940)

William Buell, Jr.
[as drawn by Frederick W. Lock ca.1840]


9 November 1830 — Provincial Elections were reported: Brockville – Henry Jones;  Leeds County – William Buell, Jr. and Matthew M. Howard  were elected.


18 January 1831 — The Provincial House of Assembly first deals with the issue of the contested election for the Assembly seat between James Gray and Henry Jones.

22 January 1831 — A meeting was called by local Reformers to oppose certain aspects of the proposed Brockville Police Bill. It was held in Mair’s Inn with James Gray in the chair. Another petition was to be drawn up, based on the concerns of the meeting, and sent to William Buell, MPP.

24 January 1831Henry Jones, MPP presented a petition supporting the controversial aspects of the Brockville Police Bill to the House of Assembly.

1 February 1831William Buell, MPP presented the petition signed by 84 Brockville residents to the House of Assembly.

February 1831 — The proposed Bill to create a police village at Brockville was introduced into and debated by the Assembly. The establishment of a Market Place in Brockville was hotly discussed. The bill passed the first reading narrowly.

14 February 1831 — The Brockville Police Bill received third reading and was passed by the Upper Canada House of Assembly.

16 March 1831 — On the closing day of the Assembly, the Brockville Police Bill was lost in the Executive Council and did not become law.

31 March 1831 — from the Brockville Recorder.


As the interior of St. Peter’s Church will not be completed as soon as was expected by the committee, the sale of the pews will be postponed until Monday, the 18th of April next at 12 0’clock.  The terms will be made known at the time of sale.

The church will be opened for divine service on Sunday, the 17th of April, on which occasion the pews will be free to all.

17 April 1831 — Official Opening of St. Peter’s Church.    (ref. Brockville Recorder, 21 April 1831)

“The Episcopal Church lately erected in this town was opened and consecrated by the Rev. Mr. Gunning, pastor in charge ….”

“The church, which is roughcast on the outside, is spacious and elegantly finished within, the pulpit, reading desk, seats, etc., being black walnut, neatly panelled. Six pillars support a beautiful gallery, finished after the same manner, the whole of which is highly credible to the building committee, as well as the mechanics who executed the labour.”


Jones-Harding Building[from a photograph taken by E. Spencer ca.1852]

Jones-Harding Building
[from a daguerreotype taken by E. Spencer ca.1852]

7 July 1831 — Land for the Jones-Harding Building ( the s.e.c. of King St. W. & Broad St.) was purchased by Henry Jones from James Smith.

20 July 1831Andrew Norton Buell announced that he was going out of the general merchandising business.

6 September 1831Peter Cole announced the future opening of a horse-racing course 7 1/2 miles north of Brockville on the Perth Road.

10 September 1831 — The drowned body of Edward Jessup, Jr., MPP for Grenville, was found in the St. Lawrence River near Brockville.

12 September 1831 — Charlotte Sherwood, eldest daughter of Judge Levius Sherwood, formerly of Brockville, was married to the Hon. John Emsley in York.

15 September 1831S. Read announced the opening of his private High School for boys and girls in the Yellow School House.

3 October 1831 — William Buell, Sr. offered to establish a new burial ground in the north end of Brockville for the use of the general public.

13 October 1831William Lyon Mackenzie addressed a meeting of district reformers in Brockville at the Methodist Episcopal Chapel.

William Lyon Mackenzie

William Lyon Mackenzie


26 October 1831 — The first cases of cholera were reported in England.

29 October 1831 — The new steam boat “William IV”, owned by district investors, was launched at Gananoque.

14 November 1831 — A meeting was held at Mair’s Inn to discuss again the incorporation of Brockville. The points of view held by A.N. Buell were listened to and endorsed by the meeting, in spite of heated discussion with Henry Sherwood.

16 November 1831Dr. Robert Edmondson opened his office in his new stone building at the s.e.c. of King St. W. and St. Paul St.


16 December 1831 — The Brockville Police Bill received third reading in the Upper Canada Assembly. It was amended twice and passed 26 to 10.

20 January 1832 — The provincial Legislative Council passed the Brockville Police Bill 32 to 4.

26 January 1832 — The formation of the Leeds Patriotic Club to work for the election of Independent Conservative candidates in the county for the provincial House of Assembly. George Breakenridge was elected the president.

14 February 1832 — Some of the electors of the West Ward of Brockville met to nominate candidates for election to the new Police Board. Samuel Pennock and John Murphy were the choice of the meeting.

7 March 1832 — District sheriff Adiel Sherwood announced the time and place of the first town elections.  In the West Ward they would be at Rickaby’s Inn and in the East Ward at the Court House on 2 April 1832.

12 March 1832 — The Brockville Temperance Society was established here.

17 March 1832 — A large political meeting was held in Brockville.

Jonas Jones

Jonas Jones

5 April 1832 — The first meeting of the Brockville Board of Police was convened at 3 o’clock pm.  Jonas Jones and Henry Sherwood were representing the East Ward.  Samuel Pennock and John Murphy represented the West Ward.  Daniel Jones was nominated and chosen the fifth member and elected the first President of the Police Board.

Sir Daniel Jones

Sir Daniel Jones

7 April 1832 — The Brockville Board of Police decided at their second meeting to purchase a fire engine for a sum not to exceed £125.  Then, the first town officers were appointed.

9 April 1832 — The Police Board established the first volunteer Fire Company to consist of a captain and 48 persons who would provide themselves with a proper fireman’s uniform at their own expense.  The first of a series of village regulations were passed. These prohibited driving or riding on the new flagged sidewalks, related to the speed of horse travel on the streets, and prohibiting swine running at large.

12 April 1832 — James Kennedy was appointed the first High Constable (Police Chief) of Brockville.

16 April 1832 — By-Laws to regulate and license food and drink outlets, to prohibit the use of firearms, outlawing ball playing, vandalism, profanity, indecent graffiti, disturbing the peace and bread manufacture were passed by the Police Board.

21 April 1832 — The Board of Police decided to open a town office and appoint a Clerk of the Board of Police.

2 May 1832 — The first 3 grocery store licenses were issued and the first 2 speeding charges were laid against Seth S. Cornell and James Hillis. They were convicted of riding through town at faster than a trot and fined 5 shillings. Three men were convicted of firing off a gun in town.

9 May 1832 — A property assessment of 2 pence on the pound was levied on all rateable persons in town.  Robert H. Fotheringham was appointed Village Clerk.

19 May 1832 — The new steamboat “William IV” made its first arrival at Brockville.

12 June 1832 — A Board of Health was appointed to recommend measures to combat a possible cholera epidemic. These measures would prohibit immigrants on ships from landing,  and ordered a building erected on the offshore island for the reception of any immigrants. In addition, they appointed a committee of four and eleven special constables to be responsible for enforcement.

19 June 1832 — Work was progressing on the hospital building on the island for sick immigrants and others. Alexander Grant was to act a the Health Officer and to supervise the special constables.

19 June 1832 — The first case of ship cholera developed among some new immigrants in Brockville.

27 June 1832 — It was reported that Dr. Robert Gilmour, a young Scottish physician died of exhaustion after administering to the sick in the cholera building on “Hospital” Island.

29 June 1832 — Alexander Grant was directed to build sleeping accommodations on the island for the doctors attending the sick.

3 July 1832Dr. Upton and his wife took charge of the hospital facilities on the island.

20 July 1832 — It was decided that it was no longer necessary to restrict boats and baggage landing at the harbour for fear of cholera.

8 August 1832William Buell, Sr., Brockville’s first settler and one of its founders, died here aged 80.

28 November 1832 — The provincial Assembly of Upper Canada received two Brockville petitions, and heard the first readings of two different bills to establish a Market Place in Brockville.

29 December 1832 — A four-hour-long public meeting was held to discuss the Brockville Market Bill.  Fourteen resolutions were passed by this strongly reform-minded group, who opposed the use of Charles Jones’ land for a market.


12 February 1833 — Stephen Richards, a local blacksmith, was hired to proceed to Brattleborough, Vermont, or any other location, in search of a fire engine for the town, which might cost up to £150.

4 March 1833Stephen Richards made a report to the Police Board recommending a large “Rogers’ Patent” fire engine, designed for 24 men and discharging 200 gallons of water per minute.

6 April 1833 — William Hervey was appointed Captain of the Fire Company.  Tenders were requested for the building of a wood-framed Fire Engine House.

27 April 1833 – The Police Board approved a drawing and specifications for the Fire Engine House provided by Francis Hacket, a house carpenter, and to cost £22.



3 June 1839 — Bill Johnston is seen to pass Brockville with 5 boats and 50-60 armed men.

1839Population of Canada:   407,515


23 May 1850 — from the Brockville Recorder.

Donald Aeneas MacDonnell was appointed permanently to the office of Warden of the Kingston Penitentiary.

5 September 1850 — from the Brockville Recorder.

In the advertising columns, G.W. Conger announced that he had opened his new Daguerrean saloon, where he was prepared “to take photograph pictures by skylight, which is decidedly an improvement to the art.”  The cost of “likenesses” was from $1.50 upwards.

26 September 1850 — from the Brockville Recorder.

The Bank of Upper Canada re-opened a branch in Brockville with R.F. Church as manager.

3 October 1850 — from the Brockville Recorder.

The Hon. James Morris had accepted the Directorship of the office of the Bank of Upper Canada in Brockville.

9 October 1850 — from the Brockville Recorder.

BIRTH & DEATH:   Catharine C. Ellerbeck, wife of W.H. Ellerbeck gave birth to a daughter and died in childbirth, aged 35.

1850 Census of Canada

Population:     Canada — 803,503     Toronto — 25,166     Kingston — 10,097     Bytown — 6,616     Brockville — 2,757

31 July 1851 — from the Brockville Recorder.

DIED:   suddenly at Brockville on the 26 of July, Catharine Gilmour, wife of Mr. William Gilmour of this town, and daughter of Mr. George McNish of Yonge.

20 November 1851 —  from the Brockville Recorder.

In this issue, editor David Wylie announced that the Recorder office had been removed to the upper flat of the large cut-stone building on Main Street, nearly opposite Court House Avenue. This is the building now owned by Dr. Harding, on the corner of Broad and King Streets.  (We now like to call this building, the Jones-Harding Building. It was erected for Henry Jones in 1832.)

27 November 1851 — from the Brockville Recorder.

DIED:  at Elizabethtown, on the 18th of November, Mr. Allan Grant, Jr., in the 68th year of his age.  Mr. Grant spent the whole of his life in the neighbourhood of Brockville. He was born on the farm which was in his possession at the time of his death.   (Shortly after this date, the Grant family agreed to sell a part of their homestead land to the Town of Brockville for a cemetery. This part, south of the Kingston Road, a few miles west of Brockville is now the site of the Brockville Cemeteries. Allan Grant and his family were not direct ancestors of mine, but were close to it, as U.E.L. settlers from New York State.)

1 January 1852 — from the Brockville Recorder.

BORN:   at Brockville, on the 21st of December, the lady of C.E. Jones, Esq., of a daughter.


25 November 1863 — from the Brockville newspaper, British Central Canadian :

The Brockville Skating Rink

“The erection of the building for a skating rink is progressing favorably; the contractors, Messrs. Buker and Row, have a large number of men at work, and there is no doubt but it will be ready ahead of time. The building will be of the following dimensions: — 132 feet long by 60 feet broad, and after deducting adequate space for two anterooms and accommodation for visitors, &c., the actual area for skating will be near seven thousand superficial feet.  Want of space this week prevents us from further description.”

9 August 1856 — from the Brockville newspaper, British Central Canadian.

The International Hotel, formerly known as the Mackenzie House, in Brockville, was opened in due form on last Monday by Messrs. Bowie & Wenban, late employees of the Willson House.

These gentlemen are well known. They have commenced business on their own account and fitted up in the best style for the accommodation of travellers, their present establishment; and if an excellent cuisine and attention to their guests will secure public patronage, we feel confident the International Hotel will be a favourite stopping place with the travelling community.

Mr. Jonas Cole has also rented that well-known house, the St. Lawrence Hall in Brockville, formerly kept by Mr. Thomas Bennett. Mr. Cole’s competency as “mine host” is well appreciated, and his removal to a more extensive establishment was necessary in order to accommodate the increasing number of his travelling friends.  Mr. Cole inaugurated the opening of his new establishment by a hospitable supper to his acquaintances.

15 November 1865 —  from the Brockville newspaper, British Central Canadian.

Loss of the Propeller “Brockville”

Grand Haven, Michigan, Nov. 9 — The propeller Brockville was wrecked on Saturday night. She went to pieces near Big Point Sable, Lake Michigan.  No passengers were on board at the time of disaster. The wheelsman, Collodon, and the first mate, Polly, were drowned.  The rest of the crew saved themselves by the aid of a small boat.  Neither the wheelsman or mate could leave the propeller. The vessel is insured.  She had 2400 barrels of floor on, which are a total loss.  The Brockville left Milwaukee on Friday, bound for Montreal, and was owned by Messrs. George Chaffey & Bros., Kingston C.W.

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

Mr. C.E. Buell, calling himself the “Prophet of the Lord”, delivered a lecture last Monday evening, in the town hall, the subject of his discourse was on certain passages of the scripture relating to the latter days, &c.  There was a good number of persons present, and the lecture was listened to with attention.

The subject being too abstruse for our comprehension, we retired before he concluded.  A collection was taken up which he generously handed over to the chief constable for distribution among the poor.

25 December 1867 — from the Brockville newspaper, British Central Canadian.

Earthquake Felt Along St. Lawrence – 18 December 1867

about 3 am in the morning

The shock passes from north-west to south-east

Sandy Hill  – 2:40 am, lasted about 2 minutes

Ottawa  – about 3:00 am, lasted nearly 1 min.

Perth  – 2:45 am, lasted 5 min.

Belleville  – about 3:00 am

Port Hope  – 3:00 am





Burlington, Vt.

Three Rivers

Sorel and Shambly

Ogdensburg  – 2 minutes


William H. Comstock

William H. Comstock


Ezra H. Halladay

17 November 1873 — from the Brockville Evening Recorder.

Messrs Comstock and Halladay have recently purchased that property lying at the west end of the town known as the Jones Estate.  (owned by the family of Charles Jones)  They have already cut it up into building lots and have disposed of all but one lot. The following persons intend building next Spring: — Comstock & Halladay, the Oddfellows, Sheilds & McLean, and Manhard & Booth.

This block of stores was built in two phases, first on the left and second on the right, and has been known as the Central Block, even though it is definitely in the West End, at the head of Kincaid St.

The architect was probably O.E. Liston of Brockville

Cetral Block, Brockville (col engraving) 1879 Leavitt


20 November 1873 — from the Brockville Evening Recorder.

Molson’s Bank

The directors of the above institution are so well pleased with the business done at their branch, under the able management of J.W.B Rivers, Esq., that they have bought the property known as Molson’s Bank, Court Ave. where their business has been carried on since the opening of the bank in this town.

21 November 1873 — from the Brockville Evening Recorder.

St. Lawrence Hall Improvements


St. Lawrence Hall hotel – ca. 1870

24 Church St.

The Proprietor of the above hotel is adding a wing to the building for additional sample rooms.  One of the rooms at present used for that purpose he offers to let for a Barber Shop.

22 September 1894  – from the Brockville Evening Recorder.

The officials of the George St. Methodist Church have decided to have the spire painted. McClure, the man who straightened the same, will do the work.

3 George St [Brockville, ON] - George Street Methodist Church [ca1900]

George St. Methodist Church (now demolished)

3 George St.

The iron cornice pork on the Comstock Block was recently painted and looks greatly improved.

26 September 1894 — from the Brockville Evening Recorder.

Mr. Newton Cossitt’s new terrace on the corner of King and Park Streets is going to make a most decided improvement in the appearance of that locality.

We learn this morning of the death at Barkersville, B.C. of Guy Landon Shepherd, eldest brother of Mr. Heman Shepherd of Brockville.  The death took place on Monday 10th inst., of mountain fever, and Mr. Shepherd was ill but two weeks.  A correspondent writing from Barkersville says: “As he lived, so he died, honoured by all he came in contact with, his record clean, his chances good.

28 September 1894 —  from the Brockville Evening Recorder.

The smaller store in the new block now in course of erection for Mr. Samuel Flint, on King Street, has been leased to Mr. Fred Hayward, and will be fitted up with a view to making it the finest barber shop between Montreal and Toronto.  It is finely located.

2 October 1894 —  from the Brockville Evening Recorder.

Brockville’s Liberal Club

The executive council were authorized to procure rooms for holding meetings till the rooms in the new Dunham Block are completed.  The council met today at noon with the architect of the Dunham Block, Mr. George A. Allen, and decided on the arrangement of rooms which the club is to occupy.  There will be two large reading rooms, committee rooms, secretary’s room, and an assembly room capable of holding three hundred and seventy-five people.  This latter room will be handsomely furnished, and nothing will be left undone to make the entire place attractive, and a spot where the members can spend many a pleasant and profitable evening together.


It is now definitely decided that the Island City Band will erect a skating rink during the coming winter. It is likely that the site at the foot of St. Andrew St. will be selected.


Mrs. F.W. West has just received further particulars of the death of her father, Guy L. Shepherd, a notice of which appeared in the Recorder some days ago.  He died at Barkersville, B.C. the 10th of September of mountain fever.  The deceased was formerly a resident of Brockville.  He went to British Columbia about 1862, and there engaged in gold mining.  Mr. James McKin in his letter conveying the sad news says: “As he lived in Caribo, so he died, honoured and respected by all he came in contact with.”

3 October 1894 — from the Board of Heath meeting.

Medical Health Officer, Dr. Vaux presented the report of a special committee appointed on Sept. 18 to examine into the sanitary condition of the James St. school.  The committee reported having promptly examined the building, which is part brick and part stone, the latter being the old structure in the rear.  The latter is especially complained against.  It has 2 classrooms, occupied by Miss Miller with a class of 55, and Miss Rowe with a class of 35.

3 comments on “Brockville History TIMELINE

  1. DeVora Harne says:

    Can you tell me if there is a document stating who the residents were for the .spring 1830 census? I am looking for a John Charles Stewart and a Euphemia Pringle. Thank you.

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