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

Brockvillians from the Atlas of the Dominion of Canada, 1875

1879 View of Brockville

A view of Brockville from the east – ca.1879

Business Cards of Patrons in the Town of Brockville


BANK OF MONTREAL,  J. N. Travers, manager.

Archer BAKER, secretary and treasurer, B. & O. and C. C. Railways.

BELL, & McEWAN, cabinet maker & furniture dealers, Main Street.

J. D. Buell

Mayor Jacob D. Buell

J. D. BUELL, mayor, barrister, attorney-at-law, solicitor in chancery, notary public, etc.

William COATES, watchmaker and jeweller, dealer in organs, sewing machines, etc., 93 Main St.

A. G. COLE, Dominion Photography Gallery, wholesale and retail dealer in pictures, frames, fancy goods, sewing machines, etc., Main St.

William H. Comstock

William H. Comstock

Wm. Henry COMSTOCK, proprietor of Judson’s Mountain Herb Pills, Morse’s Indian Root Pills, Carlton’s Condition Powders, etc., McKenzie’s Dead Shot Worm Candy.

Alex. COWAN, manager of the Brockville Chemical and Superphosphate Co.

John CRAWFORD, postmaster, Brockville.

Evans L. HAMILTON, B.A., M.D., Headmaster, Brockville High School.

Christopher FLETCHER, dealer in hardware, bar iron, saddlery and groceries, King St.

Christopher F. FraserChristopher F. Fraser

FRASER & RICHARDS, barristers, attorneys-at-law, &c. Hon. C. F. Fraser, A. E. Richards.

A. J. GARRY, grocer, etc.

T. GILMOUR & CO., grocers & produce dealers, King St.

G. R. GRIFFIN, manufacturer and dealer in hats, caps & furs, Main St.

J. J. HANNAN, wholesale dealer in butter, cheese, pork, flour, grain, seed, etc., Perth & King Sts.

T. J. B. HARDING, chemist & druggist, also exchange broker, collections made on all parts of Canada and the U.S., 126 Main Street

D. F. HAYES, Brockville

HOWE & MARSTON, proprietors, Revere House (late Campbell House)

James JESSUP, clerk of the peace, Court House

William Hamilton JONES, barrister and attorney-at-law, solicitor in chancery, notary public, conveyancer, etc.

F. E. KAUFMAN, music store and music school, Main Street

MANHARD & BOOTH, wholesale confectioners, fruit & oyster dealers, 94 King St.

Neil McCARNEY, proprietor of St. Lawrence Hall, cor. Buell and Church Streets

W. McCULLOUGH & SON, manufacturers of scythes, snaths, hames, saddles, etc.

McDonald Herbert S, 1906

Judge Herbert S. McDonald

Herbert S. McDONALD, judge, County Court, barrister and attorney-at-law, solicitor in chancery, notary public, conveyancer, etc.

A. G. McCRADY, tanner and general dealer in leather, hides and skins

Alex. McINTYRE, first class work in every branch of photography. Court House Avenue

MOORE & WRIGHT, dealers in staple and fancy dry goods. Main Street

James MOORE, Main St.

G. B. MURRAY,photographer & dealer in fancy goods, frames, &c., King St.

John MURRAYMontreal Telegraph Co.

Samuel REYNOLDS, Jr., clerk, County Court, Court House

William SHERWOOD, barrister at law, &c.

SHEPHERD & KYLE, Heman Shepherd and James Kyle. wholesale & retail dealers in dry goods, groceries, crockery, glassware etc. Main Street

E. J. SENKLER,barrister and attorney, crown attorney

SMART & SHEPHERD, Brockville

James SMART, hardware & stove founder. Gourley Street

A. W. STARR, King St.

Rev. Francis R. TANE, Rector.

Harry E. VAUX, M.D., physician, surgeon and coroner.

R. & B. R. WOODS, manufacturers of all kinds of domestic cigars, and dealers in tobacconists’ fancy goods.  Main St.


King St W ca1885

King St. West, looking east – ca.1895

Brockville, Upper Canada

Map of Village of Elizabethtown 1811

A Short History of It’s Beginnings

The founding of the settlement which became the village of Brockville has its roots in the first wave of Loyalist refugees displaced from their homes during the years of the British – American War of 1776-1783.

In the summer of 1784, the first of these disbanded soldiers and their families began to land all along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River including this area which had been known earlier to the French as, Toniata. The land on which Brockville stands was probably not the first to be chosen by the very first travellers who were more interested in land for farming, but they may have camped overnight near the natural bay which was protected by an oak-covered point of land east of the creek mouth.

In fact, it was this bay and Oak Point which attracted William Buell, a former officer in the King’s Rangers, one of the Loyalist regiments. Buell, a native of Hebron, Connecticut, was 33 years old and had spent the duration of the war in the service of the King. He had married in 1782, Martha, the 20-year old daughter of Andrew Naughton, a loyalist from Farmington, Conn. when they were living in one of the refugee camps south of Montreal.

To William Buell goes the distinction of being the first settler of Brockville. He took up his grant of land on this spot in 1785, and developed the land which he owned into a thriving village. Apparently he was able to interest others in settling here and purchasing land from him. Eventually the small settlement may have become loosely known as Buell’s Bay.

Just to the west, another settler, Daniel Jones, took up the piece of land containing the southern part of the stream we call Buell’s Creek. He built and established a saw mill just north of where this creek empties into the St. Lawrence. Jones was one of seven brothers who had similarly remained loyal to, and fought for the British side in the late revolution. Daniel Jones was eventually granted the west half of lot 12 and all of lot 13 in the first concession. This ran from Ann Street in the west over to Kincaid St.

William Buell’s grant of land was the east half of lot 12 and the west half of lot 11, from Kincaid St. almost over to West Market St.

The eastern portion of present-day downtown Brockville from Buell’s land over to Ford St. was purchased in 1805 by Charles Jones, the eldest son of Ephraim Jones of Augusta. This land comprising the east half of lot 11 and all of lot 10 was originally granted to the family of the late Lt. Peter McLaren who was killed before the Peace Settlement of 1783. Charles Jones went on to become one of the most influential men in eastern Upper Canada. A merchant and mill-owner in the area most of his life, he also gained appointment to the Legislative Council for Upper Canada. Similarly to William Buell, he was soon to capitalize on the continued desire of immigrants to settle in the village and was able to sell parcels of his land to newcomers.

It was thus that these three gentlemen became responsible for the pattern of the early development of our city, and share the honour of being the founders of Brockville.

In the early 1800’s, Elizabethtown was the name applied to both the village and the surrounding township by the government. The counties of Leeds and Grenville were part of the District of Johnstown and the regional administration for the District was set up in the village of Johnstown 15 miles east of Elizabethtown. It was there that the district Magistrates held regular courts and where a jail was kept.

By 1808, it was decided that a more central location was needed for the Court House and Gaol in the Johnstown District and a suitable site in Elizabethtown was sought. All three land owners here were eager to give a piece of land to the government to re-locate here. The high ground on Buell’s land, where the present Brockville Court House stands, was finally chosen and a deed was given by him on 16 May 1809. This proved to be perhaps the step which sealed the future prosperity of this settlement, as it seemed to doom that of Johnstown.

A large brick court house and gaol were erected shortly and a wide avenue was laid out down to the river, all on land donated by William Buell.

It wasn’t long before the inhabitants of the growing community began to seek a name which would be distinct from that of the Township of Elizabethtown. On a survey of land and lots owned by Buell dated 1811 was applied the name  Williamstown.

This was not universally accepted by the relatives and friends of Charles Jones, who may have thought that Charlestown would be more suitable. In any case, we find that locally, this village is referred to as Brockville as early as August 10, 1812 in a report sent to Major General Isaac Brock by Col. Lethbridge of Kingston who reported having just returned from Prescott and “Brockville“. Gen. Brock at the time was struggling with the administration of the province and the conduct of the war against American invasion. There is also some evidence as well that Charles Jones labelled some of his correspondence to the capital as coming from “Brockville”. The choice of such a name to compliment the Commander-in-chief in Upper Canada must have met with his approval and was starting to be used in Brockville before his untimely death shortly afterwards in October 1812.