Much of Waterdown’s early growth was shaped by the pioneering Griffin family, namely Ebenezer Culver and his brother Absalom. Together they brought great entrepreneurial business skills which influenced the development of Waterdown. Although the cottage is on property that passed through the Griffin family there is no legal evidence to confirm that the family built this cottage or lived here. The name is due to the fact that the cottage was on the road that E.C. Griffin had built in front of his property (presently known as Griffin Street) to allow him easier access to his industrial site.
The cottage is the oldest structurally unaltered domestic dwelling in Waterdown. A brownish hue from the iron content of the local rubble stone of which it was constructed adds to the charm of this one-storey Regency cottage. A common feature of buildings constructed in the 1830s and 1840s is the central doorway with an elliptical transom and side lights. After Griffin’s death his property was sold to Thomas Dyke in 1849 for $200.
The land on which the house stands was originally part of a 200 acre Crown Grant awarded to King’s College on 3 January 1828. In 1839 the property was divided into two lots. The house was built for the Forbes family in 1857, and constructed on the northern part of the lot. James Forbes, a native of Aberdeen, Scotland came to Canada c. 1830. He founded and operated the Forbes-Fisher Stove Foundry Company in Hamilton, but due to ill health, he sold his business and moved to East Flamborough with his family.
“Avonsyde” (the name comes from a book read by Forbes’ grandchildren) was built in two stages, the back section being built first and the front facing Dundas Street later. Examination of the brickwork reveals a house that was constructed for show. The front facade is made of stretcher bond which gives a consistent and tidy image to the house, on the sides and rear a more practical brick work is used which does not convey such a clean image. This type of building trick is commonly found on older stone houses but rarely seen on a brick building such as “Avonsyde”.
This elegant cut-stone house is an outstanding early example of the Ontario Vernacular style with its rectangular shape, one and a half storeys and centre gable. The hand-cut stone on the front facade is particularly striking on this house. In the centre gable, is a large, ornate gothic window. The original front door with its porcelain door knob and porcelain door bell are still in use. A newspaper clipping, 3 February 1883 lists this house for sale and describes an orchard, French stable, a “driving house” at the rear and a view of Lake Ontario from its second floor.
The East Flamborough Township Hall, virtually unaltered from the day it was constructed, is one of the finest examples of a mid-Victorian civic building in rural Ontario. Built of locally quarried limestone, the building consists of two rectangular storeys and a gabled roof crested by a cupola that distinguishes it as a public building. Construction of the hall began in 1856 after the town council agreed to appoint Messrs Stewart, Foster, and Morden to form a committee and seek a suitable price and site for a Town Hall. Walter Grieve, a Waterdown stonemason designed the plans, and John Graham, a carpenter was awarded the construction contract. By December 1857 the building was finished and found “satisfactory” by the Council.
Over the years the hall became an important part in the civic and social life of the village. In 1858 the Episcopalian Church had use of the Gallery for their worship, in 1860 the Waterdown Mechanic’s Institute Library rented space. From 1858 the hall was used for elections, in the early 1900s the second floor was used by members of the Loyal Orange Lodge and during the 1920s it housed classrooms for senior students. In 1979 the building became the home of the Waterdown Library.
Built in 1880, “Chestnut Grove” is a house with historical importance as well as architectural beauty. The home was built for Charles Sealey, a prosperous lumber merchant and the first Reeve of Waterdown, around an earlier one. Such great care was taken by Mr. Sealey’s builder to match the original house, that today only an expert can detect evidence of an earlier building. Of the many architectural features, one can note the oak door with etched and frosted glass, and the ornately decorated second-storey porch above this handsome door which allows a fine view over the village. The many Horse Chestnut trees that grew in the neighbourhood probably influenced Charles Sealey to name his home “Chestnut Grove”. Astonishingly no damage was suffered during the fires of 1906, 1915 and 1922. Today the house is the home of a number of community services.
One of the earliest buildings in the village, the land on which the Wallace house sits passed through a succession of owners before it was sold in 1846 to William Magill. Magill is regarded as the builder as its late Georgian and Neo-Classical features date c. 1840-1850, and its position faces Dundas Street and not the toll road built in 1853 (present day Main Street). Its Salt Box shape is particulary interesting as it is a design commonly seen in New England but rarely seen in this area of Ontario, especially as a feature of a stone construction. In 1853 the property was sold to Hugh Creen, described in the 1865 Wentworth County District as a “gentleman”. In 1951 the house was purchased by renowned architect and restoration expert Arthur Wallace and his wife.
The “Rising Sun Hotel” was a family business that flourished during the height of stage coach travel. A strong belief is held that it was the first building constructed north of the Village c. 1830-35 to assist those pioneer settlers who travelled northwards along the Centre Road. The property on which the hotel was built was purchased in 1825 for ,25 by George Baker, a first generation Canadian and son of Late Loyalists. After George Baker’s death, his eldest son John Baker became the sole owner of his father’s 100 acres. By 1850 he is listed in the Directories as an Innkeeper and in 1860 he is also listed as Postmaster of the Bakersville settlement and as the tollgate keeper on this section of Centre Road. At the height of the hotel’s history between 1860-1875 several additions were made and it became an established stop on the stage and mail coach runs along Centre Road. When stage coach travel declined it resulted in the hotel ceasing operation in the early 1900s. Today the “Rising Sun Hotel” remains as a private home and the only landmark still in existence from the hamlet of Bakersville.
Set back from the roadway and surrounded by farmland, this house built in 1860 is typical of the period in design and proportion. Notable architectural features are the interesting stone work around the front bays, and the beautiful Gothic Gable window, an indication of the trend towards the Gothic style in Ontario. The home is built on part of a 200 acre Crown Grant that was awarded to David Van Every in 1796. When the house was built, the property was owned by James Ghent, but it is believed that he never lived there. Today it remains as an exceptionally fine example of the best domestic architecture and stonemasonry of the mid 1800s in Ontario.
Built in 1844-45 this charming house is a fine example of the Neo-classical style of architecture that appeared during the mid 1800s in Ontario communities. The wide, low door on the front facade enhances the classical detailing with its four-light transom, three-light sidelights and the simplified Doric pilasters of the door case. The home’s fourteen windows, many of whose panes are original, give an added charm to the home. It is of historical significance that the house was built on part of a 200 acre lot bought in 1825 by John Eaton, one of the original settlers in the Carlisle area. Another early owner of the property, William Whitfield, the presumed builder of the house, in 1844, was a grand-nephew of John Whitfield, an associate of John Wesley in the founding of the Methodist movement.
One of East Flamborough’s oldest buildings, “Stonehills” is one of the finest examples of Ontario’s most common vernacular style of architecture. The earliest record of the property being occupied is from the first East Flamborough Assessment Rolls of 1841, when James Smith is listed as paying taxes for the land. James Smith and his brother Andrew were among the very first settlers in the Township, arriving with their wives from County Monoghan Ireland c. 1840. The house is assumed to have been built during the 1860s to accommodate Smith’s growing family. “Stonehills” is a very impressive home and its location perched high above Centre Road greatly adds to this. Its simple and sturdy cut stone, triple bay facade and beautiful Gothic window on the north side reflect much of the rural character common to the northern region of East Flamborough.
The Waterdown-East Flamborough Heritage Society
Research and design by Lori Dodman
Photographs by Maurice Green
Layout by Robert Wray