Fred C. GORDON – Brockville Sketch Artist

Frederick Charles Gordon (1856-1924), a native of Cobourg, Ontario, was a young artist who arrived in Brockville about 1887 to teach art at the Brockville Business College. This was a starting job for a budding professional artist who had trained in Paris before returning to Canada.

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Brockville Business College logo -brown- (Gordon)

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

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 cover - Brockville, The City of the Thousand Islands 1888

The above booklet entitled Brockville Illustrated, The City of the Thousand Island, designed by Fred Gordon, was published for the Canada Carriage Co. in 1888.  The complete publication was filled with on-the-spot drawings created by Gordon in the first two years he lived here.

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Title Page 1888 Booklet -brown- (Gordon)This was the title page in which the artist combined his love of hand lettering and illustration.  All the following pages are copied from this booklet.

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BROCKVILLE  BUILDINGS  OF  INTEREST

 
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Court House Square 1887
First Presbyterian Church and the Brockville Court House on Court House Square.
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Old Post Office -brown- (Gordon 1888)
The Dominion Post Office & Customs House Building,
opened in 1885.
 
Fulford Buildings -brown- (Gordon 1888)
The Fulford Buildings, including the earlier structure at the corner, which was the drug store of William M. Fulford in the 1860s. The larger addition on the right was erected by his younger brother George T. Fulford, the proprietor of the Dr. Williams Medicine Co. in about 1886.  The Brockville Business College was renting space on the second floor and Mr. A.C.J. Kaufman had his musical instrument store on the ground floor at the time this sketch was finished in about 1888.
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Comstock Block -brown- (Gordon 1888)
The Comstock Building, erected in 1888
for William H. Comstock, the proprietor of the Comstock Medicine Co.  This building remained here until about 1965 when it was demolished by the family to avoid paying property taxes.
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Two Churches -brown- (Gordon 1888)
On the left, the interior of St. Francis Xavier R.C. Church, opened in 1856, and on the right, St. Peter’s Anglican Church, opened in 1832.

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Recreational Activities of Brockvillians

Picnicing -brown- (Gordon 1888)

Picnicing

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Skating on the River -brown- (Gordon 1888)

Skating

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

Armstrong Railway Ferry -brown- (Gordon 1888)

The Armstrong Railway Ferry, from Brockville to Morristown, NY

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Brockville & Westport RR -brown- (Gordon 1888)

Scenes along the Brockville & Westport Railway

Water Tank in Farmersville (now Athens),  the Unionville Station,  and the Newboro Bridge.

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Tunnel & Docks -brown- (Gordon 1888)

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

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

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Other Scenes Along the St. Lawrence River

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Brockville Business College -brown- (Fred Gordon)

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

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GORDON, Fred - Highbury 1891 -brown-

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

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Jones Creek -brown- (Gordon 1887)

On Jones’ Creek, west of Brockville

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

Smugglers’ Cove, on the river, west of Brockville

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From the High Rocks -brown- (Gordon 1888)

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

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Hillcrest -brown- (Gordon 1888)

Hillcrest, west of Brockville

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Houses in Town and Outside

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

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Idlewilde -brown- (Gordon 1888)

77 Hartley St., Brockville

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Fairhaven -brown- (Gordon 1888)

On the River, west of Brockville (now demolished)

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Buell House -brown- (Gordon 1887)

Margaret & William Buell Sr. House, 16, 18 Home St. at Water St. W., demolished in 1974

In spite of the claims of the owners, this was not the first stone house built in Brockville.

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Rockford & Highbury -brown- (Gordon 1887 )

Rockford on the Prescott Road, east of Brockville, near North Augusta Rd.

Highbury at the foot of Elizabeth St., west of Brockville

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GORDON, Fred - sketched himself  -cropped-

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His Later Life after Brockville.

Fred Gordon, left his artistic mark in this way in Brockville, but he was looking to his future and moved to New York City for more adventures.  He enrolled at the Art Students League to pursue his art studies and mix with other young artists.

His art career was established for many years as he worked for the Century Magazine as a staff artist submitting decorative work to that publication for many years.

Subsequently in 19o8, he moved in middle age to Westfield, New Jersey where he established a home studio. He then pursued a free-lance career which involved illustrating books for authors and publishers. Along the way he became involved in the public life of Westfield, serving as Mayor for 5 years.

Frederick C. Gordon lived out his later life in Westfield, dying in 1924 after suffering a sudden heart attack when he was only 68 years old. He had rode his bicycle, as was his daily habit, home from the post office after collecting his mail. He was apparently in good hearth.

click here for

The obituary for Frederick C. Gordon from the Westfield, NJ ‘LEADER’ of 26 March 1924

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The Molson’s Bank Building

also known by Brockvillians as the old “Orange Lodge Building”

21 Court House Avenue, Brockville

Hubbell Building d - Court House Ave

  • Began as a three-storey stone house built about 1825 for Dr. Elnathan Hubbell.
  • Re-designed extensively in 1858 by Kingston architect John Power for the Commercial Bank of Canada.

This building has a very long and interesting history. The property is a piece of land given by William Buell to his daughter, Sabina Flynn, the wife of David Flynn, in 1810. She retained possession until 1824 when she sold it to Dr. Elnathan Hubbell for £100.

Hubbell had arrived in Brockville from Vermont about 1806. He, at some point, built a brick house on the main street on the site of the former Woolworth Store (36-40 King St. W.). That house was said to be the first brick house built in Buell’s Bay. It is not known for sure when Hubbell built this stone structure on Court House Ave., what its original purpose was, or even what it looked like originally.

The first known reference to this building was an item in the Brockville Recorder newspaper of August 2, 1833: “Henry Sherwood has removed his office into the large stone house belonging to Dr. Hubbell, situated upon the public ground in front of the Court House”. It has been said over the years that this building was used as a hotel during the War of 1837-38. This may mean that soldiers of visiting militia companies were housed here during the “Patriot” crisis. But no definite proof has been discovered to prove this point. However, we do have a lot of evidence of its use as a bank building for nearly 80 years.

Court House Ave 1849 (from the Maple-Leaf)

This 3-storey building, then owned by Dr. Elnathan Hubbell, stands at the top of Court House Ave. on the right, as depicted in this 1849 engraved illustration from a Canadian magazine, “The Maple Leaf“.

The Brockville agency of the Bank of Montreal was established in Brockville in the year 1843. We don’t know where they first located the bank that year, but the first agent is known to have been James Stevenson who remained in Brockville until 1849. The next agent was Thomas Lee, and a business directory published in 1851 gives the information that the Bank of Montreal was located on Court House Square and, therefore, was leasing space in Hubbell’s Building by that time. The Brockville map of 1853 shows the “Bank of Montreal” on this site and lists F.M. Holmes as the agent.

Map of Court House Square (w label) 1861

From the 1853 map of Brockville, during the period that the Bank of Montreal leased this building from Dr. Elnathan Hubbell.

Dr. Hubbell died on April 8, 1866 at the age of 74, and his property passed into the control of his sons. This was also the time that the directors of the Bank Of Montreal decided to build their, own building. They chose a site south of the Wesleyan Methodist Church (now, Wall St. United Church) on the east side of the Square, and were able to move into their new building in 1857. The same year, one of their competitors, the Commercial Bank, decided to take over their old location on Court House Ave. James and Henry Hubbell sold their father’s building to the Commercial Bank on December 16, 1857 for £1387. James Bancroft is listed as the manager that year and also in 1861.

A recent discovery was made that referred  to this building, in a microfilmed copy of the Brockville Recorder, dated January 14, 1858. It was the announcement that tenders are invited from “parties willing to contract for certain alterations to be made to a house and appurtenances at the corner of Court House Square and Court House Avenue”. The small ad was placed by John Power, Architect of Kingston for the Commercial Bank of Canada. This is the answer to a question about when the building received the alterations that created its present appearance. This is the common look that many Canadian banks were trying to present in the mid-1850s. The Bank of Montreal in its new location looked very similar when it was built the previous year.

The last record we have of the Commercial Bank of Canada, Brockville branch, was in 1867 with J.H. Roper as manager. It is known that later the Commercial Bank failed and had to close all their branches. The Merchant’s Bank of Canada took over their assets, including this building, and put it up for sale in 1869. A Brockville merchant, Thomas R. Sheffield purchased it for $5000.
For two years, while owned by Alphonzo Brooks, a civil engineer, there was no bank here, but on January 3, 1873, a new branch of the Molson’s Bank opened up at 21 Court House Ave. That same year, Brooks sold the building to Mrs. Margaret Hargraves for $6500. The first manager of the Molson’s Bank in Brockville was James W.B. Rivers, who held that position until the end of 1885. The bank, meanwhile, in January of 1874 purchased the building from the widow Hargraves for $8000.

Brockville- Hubbell & Comstock-buildings-1895

In this 1895 photograph, the Molson’s Bank Building is on the left.

Altogether, the Molson’s Bank carried on business here for a total of 51 years, during which time the name “Molson’s Bank Building” became attached to the building previously owned by Elnathan Hubbell. Over the years there was a total of eight managers in charge of the Molson’s Bank in Brockville, but none served as long as James Rivers. While the ground floor was the banking hall it appears that a number of the managers following Mr. Rivers, lived upstairs during their stay in Brockville. In 1925, Molson’s merged with the Bank of Montreal and sometime after, the bank in this building closed.

In 1927 the Directors of the Loyal Orange Lodge No. 1 purchased Hubbell’s Building from the Bank Of Montreal, and for the next fifty years the upstairs housed the Ogle R. Gowan Temple and the Orange Hall.

Later, in the 1950s, another tradition started on the ground floor when the law firm of Jack and Ned Stewart rented office space here. They were the sons of the former Federal Minister of Public Works, Hugh A. Stewart. In 1954, a second law partnership, made up of John Corbett and Howard Musclow, became tenants in the small annex (now demolished) on the south side of this building. In 1956 the two firms were merged and the new firm took the name “Stewart, Corbett & Musclow”. In 1967, Bob Barr joined as the fourth senior partner. The later firm of Stewart, Corbett, Musclow, Barr & Simpson purchased the building in 1976 from the Orange Lodge who had built themselves a new lodge building just to the east of Hubbell’s Building. The law firm took over the entire building for their own purposes, carrying out extensive renovations in 1977.

Presently the two firms of Stewart, Corbett Law Office [John D. Simpson, James N. Eastwood & Michael M. Johnston]  and Michael J. O’Shaughnessy are housed in the building.

Architecturally, Hubbell’s Building is a special example of a large 3-storey office building created in a earlier period of local branch banking. Its present appearance is representative of a style of building erected by the early banks as a symbol of strength and taste.

Historically, it is very hard to determine why this building was built in the first place. As far as can be learned at this point, Dr. Hubbell did not live here at all, or did members of his family. As well as being a medical man, his Interests included operating a grist will on the mill pond west of the Grand Trunk railway station on Perth St.

In any case, this building stands today in a proud position on the edge of
Court House Square and has a lot of tradition contained in its stone walls.

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

Union Flag

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

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

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

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

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

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from the Evening Recorder
July 2, 1874

Typical Balloon of the period

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The Balloon Ascension

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

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

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Map of Court House Square (w label) 1861

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

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

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

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

 

Typical Gentleman Aeronaut

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wall Street Methodist Church 1875

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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