“Robert Reynolds’ mistake” still very much a part of Amherstburg

 

 

(Editor’s Note: This is the 21st in a series of articles about the Belle Vue property, most of which have been written by Debra Honor. Honor is a local historian/genealogist and a member of the Belle Vue Conservancy.)

 

By Debra Honor, U.E.

 

Robert Reynolds was the Assistant Commissary General for Fort Malden during and after the War of 1812. As the Assistant Commissary General, Robert oversaw ordering and dispersing the supplies needed to run the business of the government facility. This did not include the military guns, ammunition or other war implements, but rather the food supplies, uniforms, and building supplies needed to run an efficient fort. As such, Robert Reynolds would have been very precise in the amount of supplies needed when ordering.

The brick work at Belle Vue is seen here. (Submitted photo)

After the American occupation ended in 1815, the Western District was under a great depression. Many who had fled, either individually or with the British military, returned. The British army continued to rebuild Fort Malden on the design begun by the occupying American army. This fort was smaller and more efficient than the original British fort.

The year 1819 saw the completion of three major buildings, and interestingly, Robert Reynolds had a hand in all three. The British army built a fine brick barrack at Fort Malden. Robert Reynolds was responsible for procuring the bricks from the brick yards at River Rouge which was done through government contract. The brick barrack still stands today. The town also saw the completion of a stately home for Robert Reynolds and a beautiful new Church of England of which Reynolds was a patron.

Reynolds procured all the bricks from River Rouge. He built his new home and tradition says he gave the “left over” bricks to build Christ Church. There is a plaque inside the church commemorating Reynolds’ donation to the church. As purchasing agent, it is unlikely he would make such a huge mistake in ordering brick for his house that there would be enough left over to build the church. Therefore, there was no mistake in the brick order. It was well planned even to the extent that we see Reynolds influence on the design of the church building which is in the same style as his home, Belle Vue.

Christ Church, located at 317 Ramsay St., was built with bricks donated by Robert Reynolds. (Submitted photo)

The barracks at Fort Malden are another example of a building constructed with bricks procured by Robert Reynolds. (Submitted photo)

Is it not amazing that all three buildings are still a part of Amherstburg 200 years later? It is impressive that Reynolds 1819 bricks on Belle Vue are still in good shape. The brick from later additions are the ones that are failing and need the most repair.

We can take pride in our three early buildings stemming from the War of 1812 that are being preserved, and all of them owe something to Robert Reynolds.

Please support our fundraising campaign. One hundred per cent of your contribution will be used for restoration of the Belle Vue House. You will receive a full tax receipt and a Belle Vue gift. Visit amherstburg.ca/donate to help us open up Belle Vue once again or visit www.bellevueconservancy.com for more information!

 

 

 

 

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