The magnificent stone building on the southeast corner of Mill and Dundas streets is still known to many in this area as the former home of the village’s most famous hardware store, Weeks of Waterdown.
The corner block actually comprises four separate sections or buildings, although the entire property was likely purchased and developed at the same time. Fires, structural changes and additions over the years have wrought great changes and allowed each section to have its own architectural style. The prime location of the buildings at the crossroads for trade and travel in the village during the 19th century ensured stable ownership; the property has changed hands infrequently during the past 185 years.
Built soon after Ebenezer Culver Griffin’s purchase of the property from early settler Alexander Brown in 1821, possibly as early as 1824, the family operated a General Store in the building for over a decade, then sold the property to Daniel Cummins in 1839. Like Griffin’s brief ownership of the neighbouring American Hotel, it was probably relinquished because of his involvement with the rapidly developing milling industry in the Grindstone Valley.
The oldest –and probably the only original –section of the block is the impressive corner building, with its steep side gable roof atop a parapet wall. The Dundas Street facade is the only remaining example of early 19th century masonry construction in the village. Built of rubble stone, parged and striped to resemble dressed stone, local tradition suggests the building was erected using stone from a nearby quarry on Vinegar Hill.
The second section was erected c. 1850, after the original frame structure burned and was rebuilt several times. The third section was once the site of a detached barn used to house delivery horses. Demolished by the Weeks family c. 1948, it was replaced almost immediately to expand their hardware department within the General Store.
The final portion of the block, owned by several notable Waterdown residents, was damaged in a fire in 1883 and also received massive structural damage in the 1940s. A wall of this section, owned by the Featherstone family, collapsed when the adjoining horse barn was removed, but its almost immediate purchase by Mr. George Weeks allowed the block to be once again in the ownership of one family.
Sylvia Wray is the former archivist with the Flamborough Archives. She can be reached through the Archives at email@example.com.
This article was originally published in the Flamborough Review, 9 January 2009.