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Pioneering in Rural Ontario: A Fall Colours Driving Tour of 1 1-2 Loyalist Stone Homes in Northeastern Elizabethtown-Kitley

Posted by Lori Ann Sanche and David Senger on


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“Canadian Homestead” (1983) by permission of James Keirstead (Keirstead Studio & Gallery – www.keirstead.net )

“They had mounted the last rapid, and the women and children settled down again in the bateaux in a fever of expectation knowing that soon they would see the site of their future homes. They looked anxiously into the depths of the forest that rose awesomely, mysteriously above the banks of the river.  

It was June, 1784, and the sun shone warmly on the small flotilla of some dozen bateaux, slowly ascending the St. Lawrence River, with their precious load of disbanded soldiers, their families and few possessions…. At last, after months of preparation and activity, the first Loyalist settlers of the future counties of Leeds and Grenville had arrived.” (p. 8)

This passage is from Ruth McKenzie’s book, “Leeds and Grenville: Their First Two Hundred Years” (1967).  She noted that there were no settlers in the area covering our tour at the time of the arrival of the first United Empire Loyalists around 1780: “Neither the Indians nor the French made permanent settlements…, though both had travelled the rivers and streams”, as well as the forests of Eastern Ontario. (p.1)

Although further research may indicate the presence of First Nations in the area prior to this time, the original pioneering families of Elizabethtown-Kitley were isolated in their settlements, relying solely on themselves and each other, and faced with a staggering challenge of making a new life out of the wilderness.  After the American Revolution, most Loyalists moved to Upper Canada due to their allegiance to the British crown, and left behind established lives in the United States.  They were provided with land and building materials from the government, under an ambitious program led by Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe to settle this new frontier.

The Origin of the Township

According to Alvyn Austin’s book “Elizabethtown: The Last of the Royal Townships”, the Loyalists surveyed 14 “Royal Townships”, where Elizabethtown was #8 of the St. Lawrence River townships and “the first and only township in Leeds County to be surveyed in 1784” (p. xviii), named in honour of Princess Elizabeth, the third daughter of King George III and Queen Charlotte.  Austin indicates that Elizabethtown was laid out along the St. Lawrence River from the Quebec border to the Thousand Islands. “Beyond Elizabethtown the granite cliffs of the Frontenac Axis were an impenetrable barrier for roads and agriculture, and the area between Elizabethtown and Cataraqui (Kingston) was left unsurveyed.” Brockville was originally called Elizabethtown Village, until it separated from the township in 1850 (p. 6).

As for Kitley, McKenzie indicates that it was a Rideau River township established in 1797.  According to a local Lyn Museum website article: “Survey parties … examined the area which was to become Kitley and found it suitable for habitation and settlement. They were impressed by the numerous mill sites found along inland streams”, in a land consisting primarily of miles of dense forest. Kitley Township was named after Kitley, Devonshire, England, home of a British M.P. (https://www.lynmuseum.ca/2016/10/21/kitley-early-years/). The name Kitley is part of the ancient legacy of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain (www.houseofnames.com/kitley-family-crest).

Elizabethtown and Kitley merged into one township on January 1st, 2001, as part of an Ontario provincial government order that municipal governments had to amalgamate to create larger township governments. An Elizabethtown-Kitley Community Profile indicates that the township, “conveniently located along County Road 29, adjacent the St. Lawrence River and the 401 and 416 corridors, is a flourishing community with both rural and urban areas…. a beautiful, safe and diverse community of 10,000 residents.”

Pioneer Stone Homes

A striking feature of the Northeastern portion of the Township is the prevalence of 1-1/2 storey stone homes on rural properties.  To anybody visiting from places other than Southern Ontario, although the stone homes we are featuring are more customary here, you will notice the occurrence of these stone homes elsewhere is not as usual.

These homes immediately impress with their stone construction, including a high degree of symmetry, often featuring central front doorways covered by a gable and flanked by equal numbers of windows, although there are exceptions as we will see in our tour.  The stone itself lends a sense of permanency while also giving off a warm hue that most likely comes from the iron found in the limestone that was quarried along the old King’s Highway (now Highway 2).  They are dignified yet endearing, a style that strikes a very interesting balance. 

Even though these homes were erected by the early settlers, often to replace their original log structures, and as such were done a long time ago under very different circumstances, today they serve as beautiful heritage homes.  They are made comfortable through modern interior renovations, while preserving the wonderful original exterior and interior features.  Additions also further enhance the original structures, and the resulting interior spaces often feature charming stone walls.

While these homes can at first glance appear to be strongly uniform, a mixture of architectural influences was used for their construction following the Loyalists’ arrival to 1860 and beyond.  The original architectural mode for these homes can be traced to the mid-18th c. Georgian style of New England.  Earlier homes have been described as belonging to the “Loyalist Neo-Classical” style, predominant between 1815 – 1840, yet other styles including Greek, Neo-Gothic and Regency were also employed.  Attempting to put strict time ranges on which style was in force at what time would be a futile effort, possibly due to fact that the homes were rarely designed by professional architects and rather the local builders’ style most strongly influenced the appearance of a new home.  Nonetheless, elements such as fanned Palladian windows or Gothic-inspired second story windows above front entrances, large rather than numerous windows, and verandas can suggest the influence of changing times and tastes.

On a more practical level, possibly the most notable influence on the decision to build a 1-½ storey house was taxation, as these homes were taxed at a significantly lower rate than those with a full second storey. (Source: much of the above content is from Rural Ontario, by V. B. Blake and R. Greenhill, 1968, pp. 18-28).

Rural Tourism – Fall Colours Driving Tour

This inaugural article by Heritage Properties of Canada by no means covers the rich history of the pioneering of Elizabethtown-Kitley, but instead ‘paints’ an impression of this early Canadian settlement area in Eastern Ontario between 1790 – 1870, with a focus on the pioneers’ stone homes.  The driving tour will inspire the tourist to experience a rural heritage location that, rarely seen in today’s ever-changing environments, has remained remarkably similar in nature to the way it was before Canada’s Confederation.

The Rural and Small Town Canada Analysis Bulletin, July 2005, indicates that Canada’s predominantly rural regions were visited by one-half of Canadian tourists.  “Rural Canada offers tourists many unique experiences that often cannot be replicated elsewhere in the world. While rural regions offer a rich assortment of natural vistas, wildlife and flora, there is also a diverse cultural heritage to discover and appreciate. … Rural regions provide opportunities for leisure, adventure or a place of solitude – whether for the foreign tourist looking for a ‘Canadian’ experience or for the urbanite looking to slow their hectic pace.  Society, in general, and urban people in particular, can derive substantial benefits from these rural experiences, making it important to plan for rural amenity protection and development”.

We hope you enjoy your fall colours driving tour of early stone homes in Northeastern Elizabethtown-Kitley.  Of course, this driving tour is worthwhile any time of the year.  If you’re interested in more of the history which this area is steeped in, please refer to the website bibliography for research sources.

We wish to acknowledge the generous participation of the homeowners and realtors who agreed to include their properties in our tour. 

Remember this is a drive-by tour only – please respect the privacy of each property owner and remain at the side of the road to observe the properties.  All roads included in this tour are paved, and the speed limit on county roads is 80 km/h and 50 km/h in communities, unless otherwise posted.

(Overview map of the tour area)

 

1.  5020 County Road 29, Elizabethtown-Kitley

 

To start our fall colours and stone homes tour, from Highway 401 take the Stewart Boulevard Exit (696) to Brockville.  Drive North on this road, which becomes County Road 29.  Pass through Tincap and Spring Valley, communities within the Elizabethtown-Kitley township, which commences at the border with Brockville.  You’ll pass by Tincap Berry Farm, which sells a variety of seasonal produce, so you might want to stop by there first.  In a few minutes, you will find the first home on our tour on the Left or West side of the road, at the corner of New Dublin Road, which leads to the Township office also located in a stone heritage building.

This century stone home on 18 acres is currently available for sale.  

MLS #K18005940:  www.realtysource.com/real-estate-listings/5020-county-road-29-elizabethtown-kitley-ontario-k6v-5t4-19974729/

 

Just a few minutes north of Brockville, this is a century stone home with original woodwork on 18 acres. The 1,800 sq. ft home has 4 bedrooms and 3 baths.  It is a multi-use rural property with extensive outbuildings, including a 2,000 sq. ft. building with electrical and plumbing, a barn and a metal quonset garage. The fields are tiled with a dug pond on the property. You’ll notice the symmetry of the house, and it is unique in having second level front square windows, as well as a transom window over the front door. 

 

2.  9269 Addison-Greenbush Road, Addison

For the next stone home on our tour, continue North on County Road 29 for a minute, then turn Right/ East onto Greenbush Road/ County Road 7.  Drive on this scenic road for 7-8 minutes, past County Road 28, until you reach Greenbush, then turn Left/ West on Addison-Greenbush Road. The second stop is at a rural property with a market garden wagon, a few minutes along the road, on the Left/ South side. 


This lovely stone home is set back from the road and has a unique off-set front doorway with an upper gothic style window.  A special feature of this property is a roadside market garden wagon, which calls for the tourist to step out of their vehicle for a few moments under the colourful trees to peruse the harvest offerings – bring some cash with you so you are able to purchase something delicious.

The Elizabethtown-Kitley website provides some information about Greenbush and its oldest homes: “The village was originally called Olds' Corners after Moses Olds, who settled in the area in 1815.… The original log cabins in which these settlers lived have long since disappeared…. What does remain, however, are many of the frame and stone houses that the settlers built. One of the oldest in the area is the stone house that Sylvanus Keeler built in 1826. It is situated …northeast of the village. Another stone house north of Greenbush was built by James Haskin in the 1830s. …The increase in building at this time suggests that the village was flourishing.”

http://elizabethtownkitley.civicwebcms.com/sites/elizabethtownkitley.civicwebcms.com/files/media/virtual-tour/Tour7/greenbush.html

 3.  421 Kitley Line 8 Road, Frankville

To proceed to the third property on our tour, continue West on Addison-Greenbush Road for a few minutes, then turn Right/ North in the village of Addison onto County Road 29.  Drive along this scenic stretch of the highway for 7-8 minutes, until you reach Frankville, then turn Right/ East onto Kitley Line 8 Road.  However, should you be interested in reading a commemorative plaque for Louise C. McKinney of the Famous Five (neé Louise Crummy in Frankville) you would continue on past the turn until you see the township fire department building on the left – the McKinney plaque can be found on the Right/East side of the road. You can then backtrack to Kitley Line 8 after your stop.

This house, located on a sunflower farm that produces and sells delicious sunflower oils, can be found a few minutes away on the Right/ South side of the road.

This charming heritage stone home with a unique enclosed front porch is located on a picturesque sunflower farm near Frankville, Kricklewood Farm.  In the summer of 2017, their sunflower festival drew large crowds of interested culinary tourists. Their products can be purchased on their website – www.kricklewoodfarm.com, or at a variety of regional grocery stores (there is a store locator on their website) and local farmers markets, including in Ottawa.

4.   12455 County Road 15, Merrickille-Wolford

 

To get to our fourth property, drive East on Kitley Line 8 Road for a minute, then take the angled Left/ Northeast turn onto Leacock Road. Continue through the colourful canopies of fall trees, past the Gibbons Maple Syrup Family Farm (www.rideau-info.com/gibbons/products.html) to a stop sign at County Road 7Cross through the intersection to drive on the now-named Crystal/Bates Road, past a railway track, along to the end of the road (9 minutes).  Turn Left/ North onto Maitland Road, then soon reach Easton’s Corners.  This stretch of the drive dips into the neighbouring Merrickville-Wolford township for a short while, due to the location of the connector roads.

Turn Right/ East on Main Street and follow it around a curve to the end, where you’ll find Middelshire B&B (http://middelshirebb.ca/), then turn Right/ East on County Road 16.  Pass Chatterfield Farm which sells goat milk soap and handmade food items (www.facebook.com/pg/chatterfieldfarm/about/), then soon you will turn Right/South on County Road 41. Follow the road until it connects with County Road 15, where you’ll turn Right/South. Our next property, which can be found just past a curve slowing to 60 km/h, at Gardiner Rd on the Left/ East side of the road, approx. 15 minutes from the previous stop.

This stone house with a wraparound porch was recently sold by Kealey Group based out of Ottawa.  Although technically in the township of Merrickville-Wolford, it is located directly on our tour route, so we thought it would be worth pointing out, as it’s a particularly fine example of very early Georgian-style 1-1/2 level classic stonework with an upper-level stone shelf, this one containing a statue.  We would welcome any input from our readers regarding this architectural feature.

5.   10655 Jellyby Road, North Augusta

Continue along County Road 15 for a few minutes, pass the Augusta township sign and Land ‘o Nod Road, then following a sharp right curve where you’ll need to slow down, turn quickly Right/ West onto Jellyby Road, along which the next property on the tour will be found.  There will be several sharp turns left and right while following Jellyby Road, so you’ll need to be aware of the signs. After 10 minutes, you’ll arrive at an 1867 stone home on the Left/ South side of the road, which was burned by a fire in June, 2017.

This 1867 stone home has a heart carved on the top stone near the roof, according to the owner quoted in a Brockville Recorder and Times article (June 15, 2017).  The property has been in her family for seven decades. The house is now boarded up after “a fire gutted the home”, and as it is still structurally sound, the owner is seeking to raise funds to rebuild. She “had wondered if the township could provide some financial assistance along heritage lines”, but the township mayor indicated that isn’t an option, as the home is not a designated heritage building.  Also, there currently is no funding available for restoration of heritage buildings. 

To help, we’re asking our readers to consider donating to contribute to the owner’s efforts to rebuild her stone home, which has important personal meaning, as well as cultural heritage value, given that 1867 was the year of Canada’s Confederation.      Here’s the link to the funding page:  www.gofundme.com/help-cindy-adams-rebuild

6.  9516 Jellyby Road, Greenbush/Addison

The next property on the driving tour is also located on Jellyby Road, near the end where it will merge into Addison-Greenbush Road (where we were earlier in our tour). As you continue driving from the last property, you’ll notice several other examples of the same stone architecture along the way, as well as other 2-level stone and brick historic farmhouses.  Turn Left/ South soon (watch out for the yellow signs) to continue on Jellyby, then a few minutes later you’ll curve to the Right as you pass McKay Road, and the next home is immediately past that turn on the Right/ South side of the road.

This appealing stone home was built in circa 1855, according to the owners. “The property is 70 acres, and the legal description has not changed since 1869.  Over the years the property was owned, on and off, by members of the Blanchard family, the founding family of Greenbush.” Lyn Museum’s website indicates in their article ‘Greenbush – A Hamlet in Elizabethtown’ that “the lure of a fresh spring in the Canadian wilderness led to the founding of this community. In 1790, an 18-year old immigrant, whose family tree could be traced back to France of the 16th Century, trekked overland from his home in Andover, Massachusetts with his bride, and after a hazardous journey reached the future site of Greenbush.” 

These original settlers, Jean (John) Saigon Blanchard and his wife Abigail Waite, gave the area its name “in 1790, from his old family plantation in Massachusetts which was known as Greenbush.” (www.lynmuseum.ca/2016/11/15/greenbush-hamlet-elizabethtown).  Having established himself, a few years later, took on a new homestead (March 5, 1982 – Brockville Recorder & Times). This home on our tour is the one referred to in that article.

7.   8669 County Road 28, Addison

To reach the second-last property on our rural fall colours tour, continue to the nearby stop sign, then after proceeding through it, turn Left/ South immediately onto Greenbush Road/ County Road 7. After 5 minutes, turn Left/ East onto County Road 28.  In a minute you’ll see a turn-off to New Dublin, which you’ll drive past, and a few minutes later you’ll slow down to 40 km/h and cross a railway track, where you might be stopped by a Via commuter train on its way between Ottawa and Brockville. Another minute ahead on the Right/ South side of the road is the next stone home on a scenic horse farm.

This lovely heritage stone home with characteristic symmetry is located on a rural horse farm known as Rideaufield Farms (www.rideaufield.com), which relocated recently from nearby Merrickville to Elizabethtown-Kitley township, where the owners are planning to spend their retirement.  You’ll notice the especially nice example of a gothic-influenced central upper window above the doorway with a transom window and sidelights. The property also has several historical barns with stone foundations, put to excellent reuse in their horse farm.


 

8.   3806 County Road 26, Elizabethtown

The last property on our tour is located next to Brockville, near Augusta Road. Continue from the last stop going East on County Road 28, until you reach County Road 6, where you’ll turn Right/ South toward Brockville.  Travel along this scenic, winding road dotted with stone heritage homes and farms, for 10-12 minutes, until you reach a four-way stop at the junction with Centennial Road/ County Road 26.  Turn Left/ East and in a couple of minutes you’ll reach our last stop on the Left/ North side of the road.

This home is currently for sale.  MLS® Number: 1111427, Homelife Realty www.realtor.ca/real-estate/19520087/single-family-3806-county-26-road-elizabethtown-ontario-k6v5t2-elizabethtown     

This partially modified heritage stone home was originally built in the 1830’s, and it set far back from the road on a scenic 2.5 acre property, rural in nature yet close to all the urban amenities of Brockville.  According to the listing, this 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom home has been completely renovated, has hardwood and ceramic floors throughout and a stunning living room stone wall.

 WE HOPE YOU ENJOYED YOUR TOUR!  Please sign up for our email list (below) to be notified about upcoming articles, as well as store specials.

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