Belle Vue Conservancy

Changes necessary to Belle Vue roof project, CAO says project still underbudget



By Ron Giofu


Town council has been advised of changes to the roof restoration project at Belle Vue that will cost an additional $111,400 plus HST.

However, the town’s chief administrative officer (CAO) says that despite the extra costs, the project still remains underbudget.

According to a report from treasurer Justin Rousseau, town council approved $325,000 in the 2018 capital budget for the project, $250,000 of which is to be funded from donations. The roof was identified as the top priority in restoring the 200-year-old Dalhousie St. mansion.

“During the construction phase of the project, additional structural issues have been identified and change orders have been requested,” Rousseau’s report stated.

Work began in the summer of 2018 and administration was presented “with a series of issues” that consultant ERA Architects Inc. identified during construction.

“The issues they identified would have not been known at the time of tender as the initial scope of the work was determined based on a non-invasive review of the structure,” Rousseau stated in his report.

The additional issues include sill beam repair and replacement, soffit replacement, eave components, fascia mounted copper gutters, face nailing detail, in-laid gutter supports, brick pier rebuilding and eve painting.

Rousseau noted that the town received confirmation from Parks Canada’s National Cost-Sharing Program for Heritage Places that the town was approved for support up to $100,000 for improvements to Belle Vue and that the grant was applied for by the town “to help offset the cost of construction and further the cause of the restoration efforts.”

Change orders to the Belle Vue roof replacement project sparked a recent debate at town council. (Photo courtesy of the Belle Vue Conservancy Facebook page)

“The 2018 capital budget includes $325,000 for the Belle Vue restoration project. Project funding is based on receipt of $250,000 from donations and the balance from the general tax levy,” Rousseau stated in his report. “However, the budget did not account for the additional grant revenue of $100,000. These grant funds will be used to help offset the additional unexpected cost from the change orders being recommended by ERA Architects Ltd.”

Councillor Leo Meloche said he “thought this might happen” and wondered how much tax money would be spent on the project.

CAO John Miceli pointed out that the original budget was for $325,000 but now they have received a $100,000 grant. The total cost of the project is now estimated at $396,760 but Miceli said they now have $425,000 set aside thanks to the grant.

“We are still underbudget with the grant funding,” said the CAO.

Miceli noted there were items that need repairing that were hidden below the soffit and that efforts are being made to restore the soffit to its original condition.  Meloche said he disagreed with the approach taken, believing that a more invasive investigation should have been done on Belle Vue to get the full picture on what was needed to repair the roof.

Meloche also questioned why the repairs to the town-owned building still weren’t subject to review by the town’s heritage committee. Meloche is the council representative on that committee and questioned whether the town was “skirting our own rules but not getting the heritage committee involved” in the matter.

“Any homeowner has to come before us and get an approval,” said Meloche.

Councillor Rick Fryer opposed the town spending more money on Belle Vue, saying road projects such as Angstrom Cr. need it more.

“People drive on roads every day,” said Fryer.

Miceli noted that town council had already approved the budget for Belle Vue.

“If you are asking me to reallocate money from Belle Vue to Angstrom Cr., that’s a different situation,” said Miceli.

To Be or Not to Be, a Sheriff in 1835



Editor’s Note: This is the seventeenth 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 UE, PLCGS


Holding the Office of Sheriff in the Western District was considered a profitable position in the 1830’s. The lieutenant governors of Upper Canada had the right to appoint their own sheriffs and they picked men who were loyal to the government. Ebenezer Reynolds, the brother of Robert Reynolds of Belle Vue, was appointed as Sheriff of the Western District in 1835.

The Office required that the applicant be a Gentleman of education, character, and property. Ebenezer had been a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Essex Militia and he was much admired.

He must possess an unencumbered real estate to the value of £750 and live near Sandwich, close to the court and jail to be able to perform his duties. In 1833, Ebenezer traded his property in Colchester for a property in Sandwich each valued at £750.

He was prohibited from participating in any Mercantile Business or Speculation.

He must pay bond of £4,000 securities to the government.

Traditionally the sheriff received a salary of £50 per annum. However, a new Act regulating the Office of Sheriff removed this salary and Ebenezer did not receive one. A sheriff’s income came from the fees he charged for his duties which were: selling land for non-payment of taxes, making arrests, summoning jurors, administering writs of the court, keeping the jails and executing sentences passed, including hangings.

Ebenezer told the new sheriff, Robert Lachlan, that the fees on average were no more than £100 per annum and from those fees, he was to deduct the travelling expenses to perform his arduous duties, frequently amounting to more than the mileage allowed. The Western District included Essex, Kent and Lambton counties.

Ebenezer explained to the government that he did not hold any other government office that received fees, except the office of the Sheriff, and that being prohibited from participating in any Mercantile Business or Speculation that might enable him to keep up a “Decency of appearance becoming the respectability of said Office,” he requested a salary. The government refused his request and Ebenezer felt obliged to resign in 1837.

In 1838, Robert Lachlan, Sheriff of the Western District, wrote in the Western Herald his own plea to the government stating, “that no Public Office can be expected to be well filled, unless its holder be suitably remunerated.”

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 to help us open up Belle Vue once again or visit for more information!

Ebenezer Reynolds, of Stowe, Colchester



(Editor’s Note: This is the sixteenth 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 UE, PLCGS


Thomas Reynolds family had three sons and two daughters. We read a lot about Robert, Catherine and Margaret, but not much is said of brothers Thomas Augustus and Ebenezer. Thomas Augustus joined the Royal Navy and moved away to England. Ebenezer has a story of his own in Essex County.

Born in 1778 at Detroit, Ebenezer grew up throughout the American Revolution. When Detroit was handed over to the Americans in 1796, he moved with his family to the new fort at Amherstburg. By 1803, at the age of 25, he was in partnership with his younger brother Robert, age 21, as merchants on First Street (now Dalhousie St.). That same year, Ebenezer married Rose Bouchette, daughter of Commander Jean Baptiste Bouchette of the Provincial Marines on 17 October 1803 at St. John’s Church in Sandwich.

By 1811, Ebenezer was farming on Lot 88 Concession 1 Colchester; the farm his father, Thomas, received as a Loyalist in the New Settlement. The farm was still owned by his father.

(Special to the RTT)

When war broke out in 1812, Ebenezer was a Major in the First Essex Militia under the command of Colonel Matthew Elliott. Ebenezer was present at the capture of Detroit with General Brock and Tecumseh. He fought at the Battle of Frenchtown (River Raisin), Fort Meigs and Fort Miami in 1813. On the 21 September 1813, Ebenezer achieved the rank of Lt.-Colonel of the 1st and 2nd Essex Militia.

After the war, in 1815, he purchased Lot 87, the farm beside his farm and the next year he purchased Lot 88 from his mother, Jean Reynolds. Ebenezer built himself a beautiful home that he named, Stowe, of which his sister, Catherine drew a picture and sent to their brother, Thomas in England.

In 1833, Ebenezer moved to Sandwich to become the Sheriff of the Western District. He remained the Sheriff for 3 years, finally resigning over the poor payment of the position. In 1851, Rose Reynolds his wife, died in Sandwich and was buried at Assumption Church since she was Catholic. Ebenezer moved to Amherstburg to live with his brother, Robert at Belle Vue, where he passed away on 11 December 1854 and was buried at Christ Church Anglican.

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 to help us open up Belle Vue once again or visit for more information!


Belle Vue Conservancy pleased with “All that Jazz” fundraiser



By Ron Giofu


The Belle Vue Conservancy is pleased with its most recent fundraiser, the June 25 “All That Jazz for Belle Vue” event.

A sold out crowd of over 80 people came to the Artisan Grill for the Monday night show with the featured entertainment being Renée King-Jackson and her Fabulous Foursome. Conservancy president Shirley Curson-Prue said the entertainment and the meal provided by the Artisan Grill made the night one to remember.

“That was an amazing combination,” said Curson-Prue. “(King-Jackson) is really, really professional.”

Curson-Prue said King-Jackson and the band got people involved as numerous people got up and danced throughout the night.

Renée King-Jackson and her Fabulous Foursome perform at the Belle Vue Conservancy’s “All That Jazz for Belle Vue” event recently at the Artisan Grill.

“She’s so enthusiastic about Belle Vue,” said Curson-Prue. “We couldn’t have asked for any better entertainment. We couldn’t have asked for better food.”

People who attended ranged in age and Curson-Prue said many commented as they were leaving that they had a good time. She added that few, if any, left as the event was happening.

“People liked the enthusiasm. It was a great combination,” said Curson-Prue. “It turned into a real party. Everyone loved the music. She really did appeal to everyone.”

The Belle Vue Conservancy had “generous sponsors” for the event with Curson-Prue adding that they also had a good partnership with the Amherstburg Freedom Museum, as the latter helped sell tickets.

“We sold out within two weeks,” said Curson-Prue.

The event raised over $2,600.

Plans are underway for the second annual “Birdies & Bogies for Belle Vue,” with this year’s event being a nine-hole event Aug. 10 at Sutton Creek Golf Club. Cost is $75 per person and includes nine holes of golf, a cart and a steak dinner. Register by contacting Meg Reiner at 519-890-4425 or e-mail her at

People can also register by calling Curson-Prue at 519-736-6947.

For more information on the Belle Vue Conservancy, visit or call

Painters in the Reynolds Family


By Debra Honor UE, PLCGS


(Editor’s Note: This is the fifteenth in a series of articles regarding the Belle Vue house and its history. Historian/genealogist Debra Honor is a member of the Belle Vue Conservancy.)

Among the children of Thomas and Jean Reynolds, were two daughters, Margaret and Catherine Reynolds. They never married, but they have become famous as painters.

Margaret Reynolds was born in Scotland in 1765. She was the oldest child of this family. Catherine Reynolds was born in Detroit, Quebec in 1784 as the youngest child. (Detroit was part of the Province of Quebec after 1760 when the British took over New France, until 1796, when it was handed over to the United States of America.) Therefore, Catherine has been named Canada’s earliest Canadian born female artist. Both women are recognized now for their artistic talent. Until recently, Catherine was considered the sole artist.

(Special to the RTT)

The discovery to the contrary was made in the 1980’s when the painting “View of Amherstburg 1812”, which had been attributed to Catherine, was restored and cleaned revealing the signature “Margaret Reynolds.” Art historians have since revisited the paintings and are attributing some to Margaret and some to Catherine.

The Royal Ontario Museum has a painting by Catherine Reynolds of the Amherstburg waterfront about 1850 from the same vantage point as the 1812 painting. Fort Malden N. H. S. had an artist paint a copy of this painting for use as a backdrop in an exhibit, which has now been installed on the back wall of the Amherstburg Town Council Chamber for everyone to admire.

We know Catherine did the paintings of Belle Vue from the back and the painting of the house called Stowe which belonged to her brother, Ebenezer. She sent these to her brother, Thomas Augustus in England to show their prosperity in Canada.

Margaret and Catherine may not have been formally taught in school to draw but with their father’s position, they would have had contact with military officers who were trained in art. Margaret’s paintings are more apt to be true life scenes. Catherine as well did true life scenes but also paintings in which she copied prints her father was able to provide.

(Special to the RTT)

Their skill truly shows in all the paintings that have been discovered.

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 to help us open up Belle Vue once again!

For more information on the Belle Vue Conservancy and its upcoming events, please visit