Clothier Street was the original main street of Kemptville. The first homes and businesses were along this street, and the first mill was on this side of the river above the bridge. The corner of Rideau Street marks the line between Lot 26 and Lot 27, Con. 3, Oxford-on-Rideau Township. To the east lay the lands bought by Lyman Clothier, and to the west were those granted to Elijah Bottum. As the village grew in the 1830’s, a few homes and businesses were started on the west side of the line. But it was when much of what is now Clothier Street west was granted to the Anglican parish of St. James for its support that settlement started moving along the west side of the village. A few businesses continued to operate from homes, but Clothier West became primarily a residential area. Many of the village’s leading citizens built homes here, though most later moved to the newer and more prestigious area of Prescott Street in the later nineteenth century.
Clothier Street West Historical Walking Tour
This house has a fascinating and colourful history. Lyman Clothier junior built a house on the site in the 1820’s, but the present house was built some time after 1840 and, according to gossip, was paid for from funds of a republican group, the local Hunters Lodge, dispersed after the Battle of the Windmill in 1838. Nathaniel Fenton bought the property in 1843, and operated a hotel in the house until his death in 1849, and his wife and her new husband used it as a store and a lady’s finishing school for many years after that. One of the students, Elizabeth Bell, later married Dr. C. F. Ferguson and moved into the house in 1897. It remained in the Ferguson family until 1953. Dr. Ferguson served as Member of Parliament from 1874 until 1896. It was the location for many social and political events, including visits from Sir John A. Macdonald. One of Dr. Ferguson’s sons was Ontario Premier, G. Howard Ferguson, who grew up here. When the Fergusons moved in, there had been three families sharing the building, but the new owners renovated it completely, and laid out gardens and an orchard in the rear of the property. Over time, parts of the property were sold off for homes and the Salvation Army Hall. The house itself was later transformed into the Stonehaven Rest Home.
Lyman Clothier sold this property to his son, Lyman junior, in 1839. The stone house dates from 1842, the year carved on a stone near the front entrance. When the Township of Oxford-on-Rideau was incorporated in 1850, the first meeting of the new Council met here. The house was sold to George Weir in October, 1850. Although it is said that the first meeting of the Kemptville Council met at Lyman Clothier’s home in 1857, it is possible that it was not at this location, as Clothier was living elsewhere by then. Weir sold the house to James Gibson in 1861, and it remained in the Gibson family until 1919. The Gibsons were butchers and ran a shop out of the house. Mary Ann Gibson also had a business in the house in the 1860’s, when she made hats and dresses. Since then, it has had only four owners. Many historical artifacts have been found in the vicinity of the house, including arrow heads, pottery, an 1855 newspaper and a wedding ring. The house has received Heritage recognition under the Ontario Heritage Act in 2002.
For almost twenty years after 1854, William Anderson had a tailor shop on this land, before moving to Clothier East. A number of stores operated along this front of Clothier until the land on which Leslie Hall is built was donated by S. E. Walt, founder of the Advance newspaper, in 1904. It replaced an older Sunday School and Concert Hall which had been located at the north-west corner of the cemetery. The cornerstone was laid on October 8, 1907 by the local head of the Masonic Order and was erected in honour of Robert Leslie, a major figure in the life of the community and the Anglican Church for almost sixty years, and a leader of the Masons. The building was a huge expense, however, and it was some years before the debt was paid off on the building. This required, in part, the donation of 100 acres of land in Carleton County to use as a prize in a lottery. Since then, however, Leslie Hall has proved to be an asset to the community. It has been the venue for meetings, concerts and many other community events in its first century. The building has been upgraded a number of times. In the 1950’s, washrooms were added and the chimney, seen above, was removed. A fire threatened the integrity of the building, but it was successfully restored. There is some question about the source of the blocks used in the construction. It has since been demolished.
Squire Bottum donated land to Henry Patton for a church and burial ground in 1827 and a small frame wooden church was built. It was located between the present church and Leslie Hall. The following year, the Bishop of Quebec consecrated the land and the church was in use until 1882, when the imposing blue limestone building was opened. The cornerstone had been laid on May 28, 1878, and celebrates the service of Patton, who served at Kemptville from 1827 until 1845. Funds for the original church had been raised by missionary appeals in England, but in 1835, St. James was one of 44 Anglican parishes to receive endowments from the Crown. 400 acres of Clergy Reserve land in the Township were assigned to Patton to raise funds to maintain the parish and St. James became more secure. Nevertheless, extra funds had to be found abroad, as with the first church, to cover the cost of erecting the new stone building. Since it opened, the church has been improved by the addition of electrical lighting, new heating systems and a choir. In 1956, a new pipe organ was purchased through contributions from the congregation and friends. The Anglican parish has had a significant influence on the growth of Kemptville, not least through the land holdings it administered in the nineteenth century.
Over the years, extra land had been bought from Squire Bottum and Asa Clothier to extend the burial ground and church lands, and to build a Rectory. Although it is a little off the Clothier trail, the Rectory played an important role in the life of the street. The Cottage Lot, as it was called, was transferred by Patton to the Diocese in 1864, along with other lots to extend the cemetery. The Rectory that was built was of wood frame construction and sat back from the road facing Harriet Street. Located in the middle of almost 70,000 quare feet of land, the property formed a large block fronting Clothier Street West along with the church and cemetery. In 1898, the old rectory was replaced by the present brick building. Part of the original home was removed to Rideau Street where it was used as a stable. The larger part also went to Rideau Street, where it remained in use as a residence The illustration is of this rectory in its original location in 1878.
Thomas Beckett had a store on this property in the 1830’s, and around 1837 he opened Kemptville’s only brewery on the river bank behind the house. He carried on in the brewing business until he retired in the mid-1860’s. It was a private residence for the Powell family from 1900 until 1948, when it passed to Eva Adams and Elsie Byers. These two ladies restored the building to its original plan, maintaining the porch that runs the full length of the front, and decorating the interior to match the high ceilings and well-proportioned rooms. Miss Byers sold the property in 1971 and in 1988 it became the Featherstonehaugh Manor for seniors. It continues to provide this service to the present. The illustration is from 1878.
Technically speaking, this is only one of a number of houses that could be called Dr. Sparham’s House. There were three members of that family who practiced medicine in Kemptville in the nineteenth century. The house was probably built by Justus Merwin, an influential figure in the early history of Kemptville, around 1845. He sold the property to Michael Heaphy by 1847, and it remained in that family until 1878, when it was bought by Dr. George Sparham. Sparham served the people of Kemptville for twenty years, finally retiring in 1898 when he sold the house to John Sanders, one of the villages leading entrepreneurs. He owned a great deal of property around Kemptville and finally settled down the street from here at 201 Clothier West. The frame house next door dates from around 1900.
In 1847, two congregations of Baptists, one at Pelton’s Corners and the other in Kemptville, were united and began meeting as one congregation. This lot was bought by Joseph Leeming in 1845, and was transferred to the Trustees of the Baptist Church of Kemptville and South Gower. A church was built here in 1847 and remained in use until 1914. In that year, it stopped holding meetings in the building because of dwindling attendance. It was hoped that this would improve over time, but numbers continued to fall. Finally, in 1927, the building was sold to Gilbert Davidson. At the time, it was the oldest remaining church building in Kemptville. The lot behind this, lot 16 on Water Street, was also bought by the Baptist Church and a Parsonage was built there. This lot, too, was sold, in 1899. One member of the Baptist congregation which met here in the 1890’s was Alexander Rutherford, who practiced law in Kemptville for ten years before moving to Alberta, where he became that province’s first Premier in 1905.
This home was built by John Wolfe around 1860. Wolfe was Reeve of Kemptville between 1865 to 1872 and ran a furniture and undertaking business for a number of years. It was bought, and the property enlarged, by John Sanders in 1873 and it remained in the Sanders family until 1922. Sanders was a major figure in property and financial circles in Kemptville, as well as a founding figure in the poultry and egg trade between Canada and Britain. He also held controlling interest in a produce exchange in Montreal. He was the son of a tinsmith. Since 1922, the property has had just four owners: the Kidds, Bakers, Blairs and the current owners, George and Norma Fisher. The house has many interesting features, including curved interior walls on the upper floors. There is a carriage house behind the home which was once used to store Wolfe’s hearse and team of horses. The picture above shows the building possibly at the turn of the twentieth century. Note the wall and railings. Only the base of the walls remain today.
This property was transferred from Squire Bottum to Henry Patton as part of the endowment for St. James Parish. In 1844, Patton sold it to Joseph Leeming, an important merchant in the village who subsequently moved to even greater success in Montreal. It was probably Leeming who built this house around 1845. When he left the village in 1857, he sold the property to Emanuel Sparham, one of the family of doctors who served the people of Kemptville for much of the nineteenth century. He also bought the lot behind the house, giving the family large gardens, with an uninterrupted view of the South Branch. Over time, the family bought the lot next door, extending the property further. One daughter, Anna, ran a private school for pre-schoolers in the house in the 1880’s. After Dr. Sparham died, the property went to his daughter, Rosamund Dickinson, who had married into a prominent family from just down the road in Perkins Mills. In 1935, the home left the Sparham family and was bought by another Perkins Mills native, Ethel Inglis Wyman, who may have been a relation. It is one of the oldest houses in the town.
Levi Landon built this house about 1849 and it was for years one of only two homes along this part of Clothier Street. Originally, the property was part of the extensive holdings of Henry Patton, rector at St. James Anglican Church. It has associations with many of Kemptville’s leading citizens over the century and a half it has stood here. Thomas Maley bought it in 1850 and left for his new home on Thomas Street in 1855. Robert Bell, one of the builders of the Prescott & Bytown Railway, lived here, with his sister, Elizabeth Bell, who was later to marry Dr. Charles Ferguson, M.P., and whose son was G. Howard Ferguson, Premier of Ontario, The couple lived for many years in the house at 5 Clothier Street west [No. 1]. In 1888 the house was bought by Thomas A. Craig, for many years a School Inspector in the district. He left in 1909 to take up residence at his new brick home at 216-218 Prescott Street. The building is a frame one, with thick wooden beams and squared pegs used in the construction. The layout of the house, and the fanlight over the door, are characteristic of homes of that period.
In March, 1843, it was decided to establish a Grammar School in Kemptville. Henry Patton, Rector at St. James Anglican Church, offered this site, at the western edge of the Village, and a school building was completed by the following year. This was the origin of the Kemptville High School, and operated out of this building for almost forty years, until the various school boards united as a Board of Education in 1873. At that point it was decided to build a new Public School nearer the centre of the village and the Grammar School closed when the new institution opened, providing both primary and secondary education for children. The Board of Education kept this building until 1878, when it sold it to Charles Eligh for $1. Perhaps one reason for the low price was the fact that the Board had to admit that they had lost the title deed to the property.
It could be said that the entire length of Clothier Street west was the Bottum estate, as it was part of the land originally granted to Elijah Bottum in 1802. But as parcels of land were sold off to settlers and the Anglican Church, Elijah’s son, William, maintained the family home and extensive grounds, coming to be known locally as “Squire” Bottum, a major figure in the social and political life of Kemptville for many years. This house is all that is now left of the Bottum estate. It was built, according to tradition, by Elijah Bottum himself, and it remained in that family until 1928, when the last member, Hannah, sold it to Ross Ferguson. Set back from the road, it is hard to imagine how it looked when it was alone and surrounded by gardens and hedges, the home of one of Kemptville two founding families.