Debra Honor

“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!

 

 

 

 

The Rebirth of Belle Vue in 1928

 

 

(Editor’s Note: This is the twentieth 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

 

In March of 1924, Mrs. P. B. Leighton sold the Belle Vue property to John G. Mullen, president of the Mullen Coal Company, Amherstburg. The article in the Amherstburg Echo of March 28, 1924 described the complete history of the former owners from Robert Reynolds to his son, Dr. Robert T. Reynolds, to William Johnston, to Simon Fraser and then to Perry B. Leighton. (Simon Fraser only owned the property for a few days before selling it to P. B. Leighton). The house has always held a fascination to residents in Essex County.

The article goes on to explain that the Mullen family had ambitious plans for the property including “having the beautiful grounds landscaped by a landscape artist from Cleveland, the house will be remodelled, preserving and accentuating the style of architecture, the interior will be remodelled and modernized, making it one of the finest residences on the chain of lakes.”

Belle Vue 1928 (Photo originally appeared in the Border Cities Star)

Belle Vue 1925 (Photo originally appeared in the Border Cities Star)

The next year, 1925, the Border Cities Star, had a huge article on the “Reynolds House” being renewed. In the article, it described the house as having “red brick”. The picture they use does show the house as being of dark colour though earlier photos had shown the house with white paint.

During the renovation, Mr. Mullen added a coal furnace for heating, modern electricity, a second story above the earlier bay window additions and the attached gazebo at the south end.

In describing the house in April 1928, the Border Cities Star added, “Particular attention has been paid to the landscape and in doing this Mr. Mullen has added an additional property. At the rear of the house are sunken gardens and many very attractive floral arrangements which will make the spot one of the show places of the section.”

In December 1928, the Amherstburg Echo described the house. “The residence of John G. Mullen, river front attracts great attention this Christmas season because of the beautiful colored electric lighting strung along the front and the vari-colored Christmas tree, composed entirely of electric bulbs, which flash on and off, with beautiful effect. It is the most ambitious electric lighting decoration ever before attempted in Amherstburg.”

What better way to advertise his new electric business, of which he was a partner, than with Christmas lights!

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!

Belle Vue becomes the Ukrainian Village

 

(Editor’s Note: This is the eighteenth 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

 

The blessing of the St. Nicholas Chapel and the opening of the Ukrainian Village at Belle Vue was celebrated on June 3, 1962. The Most Reverend Isadore Borecky, Bishop of Toronto and the Ukrainian Catholic Church of Eastern Canada celebrated the pontifical High Mass in the garden with the choir of St. Vladimir and Olga Ukrainian Catholic Church, Windsor, providing the music.

Only a year before, the Ukrainian Church purchased the property and the congregation worked together to turn the property into their worship space. Belle Vue had sat empty for seven years since the closing of the Veterans’ Home.

The north end of the building held the commercial kitchen from the Veteran’s Home which was put to good use by the congregation for meals and making perogies for sale.

The room with the bay window on the right side of the building, became the chapel for the church. They added a small area at the back of the room for the chancel of the church. The original pioneer kitchen to the right of the room became the vestry where the priest would prepare for the service.

St. John the Baptist Church donated their old pews to the new chapel. Mr. Eugene Taskey decorated the sanctuary walls with charcoal murals which enhanced the beauty of the chapel. These pictures depicted St. Nicholas and scenes from Jesus Christ’s life.

As family members have recalled, Mr. Taskey was planning to paint the charcoal murals. When crossing the border from his home in Michigan with the paint, the customs officer refused him entry because he had no visa to work in Canada. Therefore, the murals remained as charcoal drawings.

For 41 years, the former Belle Vue was the Ukrainian Village and St. Nicholas Chapel for the Ukrainian people of Amherstburg. They were able to worship, and educate their children in their language, culture, history and traditions. Many people were married in the gardens and many groups held picnics there as well. The history of Belle Vue and the traditions of the Ukrainian community were appreciated together.

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!

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 amherstburg.ca/donate to help us open up Belle Vue once again or visit www.bellevueconservancy.com 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 amherstburg.ca/donate to help us open up Belle Vue once again or visit www.bellevueconservancy.com for more information!