The Occupants in the Broken Front of Lot # 9

   The land south of Plains Road on Lot 9 had many owners and occupants over the years. The first owners being various members of the Hopkins and Hughson families. This story will start with the owners on the south-west corner of Unsworth Ave. and Plains Road as well as a strip of land along the north side of Plains Rd. in Concession 1.There will also be some references to owners of land that was closer to the bay.

   In the census from 1861 for Aldershot you will find a Tavern Keeper by the name of Samuel Fish. He is the son of Richard and Mary Fish of Hamilton who immigrated to Canada from Nottinghamshire, England. The surname of Fish has been recorded as living at the beach area of Hamilton in the early 1830’s but it is not known if there is a connection with this Fish family.

   Richard Fish (1809-1852) and his wife Mary (1809-1873) arrived in Canada during the late 1820’s or very early 1830’s. On the 1851 Census he is the Inn Keeper of the Ontario House that was located on the corner of James Street North and Burlington Avenue in Hamilton.This two storey frame structure was also their home. Their children were Sarah (1832-1906), Samuel (1835-1866), Elizabeth B. (1837-????) and William Albert (1841-1866). It is shown that all of the children were born in Hamilton. Also noted was that William Albert is mentioned as “Prince Albert” on this 1851 Census but it is not known why.

   Richard Fish purchased 15 acres of land on the Broken Front & first Concession of Lot 9 in Aldershot in 1843 from Robert Ecclestone in 1843. Mr. Ecclestone was a merchant in Hamilton. Two years prior on the 1842 Census a Tavern is mentioned being in this area that was operated by John Gass or Goss and this is possibly the same place.  Aaron Kenney also had a Tavern nearby in the 1842 and 1861 census for the Broken Front of Lot 10. The census from 1851 for this area is missing.

    Richard Fish was only 43 years old when he passed away on August 24th, 1852. In his will he bequeathed several properties that he had acquired between his wife and four children. Besides the household goods his wife received the property in Aldershot known as the Grove Cottage Inn. The will states that the property is situated on both sides of Plains Road on Lot 9& 10 however I believe it was only on lot nine. The exact border line between 9 & 10 is yet to be determined though Unsworth Avenue is a good reference point.

Surtees Map 1859

     Their oldest son Samuel Fish would receive the Ontario House Tavern in Hamilton once he reached the age of twenty-one. It was located on the south-west corner of James and Burlington Street. The building fronted on James Street with a distance of 91 links (66 Feet) and one chain & 82 links (120 Feet) on Burlington Street. He also received two other lots in the city. The youngest son William Albert received 4 other lots in Hamilton, the oldest daughter Sarah Anne inherited 3 lots in the city and the youngest daughter Elizabeth received 2 lots in Hamilton.

     On a Directory from 1857a Mrs. Samuel Fish (Alice) is the proprietor of the Ontario House then in 1858 her mother in law Mary Fish is the proprietor of this Tavern at James and Burlington Streets. Samuel Fish turned 21 years old in 1857 and their first child, William Richard Fish was born in 1858. Possibly a decision was made that the property in Aldershot was better suited for a young family to be raised which is possibly why Samuel and his family are located there in 1861. On the Agricultural Census for this year the property consists of 16 acres. Eleven acres are under crop, four acres are under pasture and 1 acre is orchard or gardens.

     The first mention of the Grove Cottage that I found was from an article in the Hamilton Spectator on March 6th, 1860. A spark from the chimney sparked a fire on the barn that was attached to the house. The barn and all of its contents were destroyed and there was no insurance.

 On May 9, 1861 an advertisement appeared in the paper for the sale of the Inn including 14 acres of land. Then two months later all the contents of the cottage including animals and implements were seized and offered up in a Bailiffs Sale in August of 1861.

   Going by the Land Records for this property on August 19th Mary Fish either took out a mortgage or made a payment of $200.00 dollars from the Burlington Building Society.  At the same time her youngest son William Albert bought six acres of the property from his Mother for 100 pounds. These records are transcriptions of the originals and I’m not sure why one transaction was in pounds and the other in dollars.

   It must be mentioned that at this particular time Samuel is also operating the Burlington Hotel.  He may be interested in purchasing the Burlington Beach Hotel and Pleasure Grounds that was for sale in the late summer or fall of 1861.  Eventually he did become the proprietor of this in 1865.

1023 Unsworth Ave.

1031 Unsworth Ave.

  It is possible that the house at 1023 Unsworth Ave. could be the Grove Cottage Inn.  The house was originally a front gable structure with a side wing addition added later on a stone foundation.  The small house that was beside it to the north (now demolished) at 1031 Unsworth Ave. could have been the Cottage.  It is known that Albert Unsworth had this building moved to the rear of his house at 313 Plains Rd. W.  It was used to house knitting machines and was later moved  to Unsworth Ave.

   Looking at the two maps below from the early 1840s, one shows the Grove Inn on the NE corner and the other map had it on the SE corner of Plains Rd. and Unsworth Ave.  The Hunter's Inn eventually became David Blain's Inn.

 The two houses pictured below were once located on the SE corner and could be considered the Grove Inn and Grove Cottage Inn.  They are still standing today at 909 and 913 Unsworth Ave.

    An advertisement appeared on May 5th of 1864 stating that Samuel Fish had purchased the “Wellington Square Hotel” and is living in Wellington Square, now known as Burlington. On an 1858 map of Halton County there is an advertisement saying Samuel Fish is the keeper of the  “Burlington Hotel” in Wellington Square. So far I cannot confirm the identity of the Wellington Square House but I feel that it is a different place. The Burlington Hotel later became the Raymond Hotel and after that The Coronation Hotel.

  My research shows that the Burlington Hotel existed as early as May, 1855 when it was mentioned in an article titled “Queen’s Birthday at Wellington Square”. After Samuel Fish’s ownership, William De Garmo advertised the Burlington Hotel as early as October 1867. It was offered for sale or rent in March of 1880 with a Post Office box for its particulars. De Garmo died in November of 1886. James Roderick was granted his license for the Burlington Hotel in July of 1886. At the same time Roderick had also owned a hotel at Clappison’s Corners and previously the Aldershot Hotel located by the GWR Station on Waterdown Rd.

   When Roderick died in 1900 his wife sold the hotel soon after. Alex McLagan from Hamilton became the next proprietor but only for a brief period. He passed away on Jan.1, 1902 at the age of 51. By 1905 the establishment was called the Raymond Hotel. On May 31, 1928 there was a fire at the hotel. In November of 1929 Sid Alton purchased the hotel and leased to Mr. and Mrs. William Brown. In March of 1930 the Browns were fined $300 for having liquor in an unlawful place and a liquor ban for one year was enforced. It did not reopen until December, 1934 when Nicholas Griamchele leased it. The earliest date for the name Coronation Hotel that I could find is February 1944.

   The Grove Cottage Inn was now being operated by Samuel’s brother William. One year later on May 31st, 1865 it was advertised that his brother Samuel is now the proprietor (not the owner) of the Burlington Beach Pleasure Grounds located on the bay side of the beach strip, a distance south of the canal.

  These grounds on the beach were once owned and built by George Snook Sr. in 1850. The Burlington Beach Pleasure Grounds touched both waters of Lake Ontario and Burlington Bay and it was located in the area of the present day Grafton Avenue. There was a long pier that stretched from the property on the bay side across a marshy area to a small peninsula. None of this exists today due to the gradual “filling-in”of the Burlington Bay by various industries in Hamilton.

   George Snook Sr. left the hotel in the hands of his son George around 1860. His wife Mary had passed away two years earlier.He moved to Clay, St. Clair Michigan. George Snook Jr. and his brother are still at the beach strip on the 1861 Census but shortly after they also moved to Michigan.

   On February 2nd, 1866 Samuel Fish passed away at the age of 30. Written in the diary of Captain George Thompson, the Lighthouse Keeper at the Canal, he wrote that Samuel Fish died at 6 a.m. and his funeral procession crossed the ice from his residence at the beach to the Hamilton Cemetery on February 4th.

   On April 9th, 1866 it was advertised that the Grove Cottage Inn was available to let and that summer the Burlington Beach Pleasure Grounds was opened by Samuel’s brother William Albert Fish as the proprietor. More renovations were again made for the new season. The flower gardens were enlarged and a boarding house separate from the hotel was available for private boarders. Moonlight excursions on the steamer Argyle were arranged with string bands playing in the spacious ball room.

 All this once again came to an end with the passing of William Albert Fish, 24, on July 28th, 1866. His funeral took place at the residence of his sister Elizabeth B. and John Archibald McDonald on James Street opposite the Bank of Upper Canada.There was a brief mention one month after William’s death on August 22nd saying that a Mrs. Fish, Tavern Keeper at the beach was fined $20.00 for selling liquor without a license. This was either William’s mother or his brother Samuel’s wife as William was never married. Samuel’s wife Alice got remarried to a Samuel Maslin some time before 1871. On the Census for that year she, her husband and her three children, William, Samuel Jr. and Sarah are living in Hamilton.

   The Burlington Beach Pleasure Grounds went back into the hands of the Martin family. John’s wife Marian is listed as a Hotel Keeper at the beach along with her daughter Elizabeth on the 1871 Census.The property was 5 acres in size.It is believed that John Martin’s son Thomas was the Proprietor there because he is shown as a Hotel Keeper in 1873 on his marriage certificate.

     On the Dominion Day holiday of 1872 a terrible accident occurred at Martins wharf on Burlington Bay. Several people fell through the poorly constructed dock after exiting the propeller “Ontario”. Three children drowned. The Proprietor was accused of neglect and even murder though no charges were laid. It is not known if this was the end of the Burlington Beach Pleasure Grounds because on the 1881 Census Thomas Martin and his family are living in Waterloo and he is shown as a laborer and a Fish Merchant.

County Map 1875

    The Crown was selling the Broken Front lots in Aldershot, East Flamborough between 1797and 1829. Most of the land in the broken front of Lot 9 was owned by the Hopkins’s family. Capt.Silas Hopkins (1741-1818) had lived in the Broken Front of Lot 9 as far back as the very early 1800’s but it is his son Ephraim (1784-1852) whose name is on the land titles in 1814 for acreage in lots 9 & 10 . Ephraim eventually purchased property on the lakeshore in Saltfleet Township. Several other small land purchases were made by others on lot 9 over the next 30 or so years.

     Around 1837 Nathaniel Hughson (1802-1854) purchased most of the land on lot 9 including a good portion into con #1. This was the same year that his father Nathaniel Hughson (1755-1837) passed away. He eventually purchased the Unsworth’s Grove Farm situated along the GWR tracks and also a portion of the broken front of lot # 10. Silas Hopkins youngest son Gabriel (1788-1861) now owns the property along the bay in Lot 9 and Lot 10 which is where the current Danforth Place is.He had purchased 46 acres in 1837.

Surteese Map 1859

    On the county map from approx. 1875 you will now see the name Benjamin Crickmore (1819-1894) where once it said Gabriel Hopkins land. This property was obtained by him as he was Gabriel’s step-son. His widowed mother Frances Bensley Crickmore (1794-1875) married Gabriel Hopkins in 1836.  Gabriel was previously married to Phoebe Woolverton (1792-1808). Benjamin purchased this property from Royal Hopkins (1810-1872),the eldest son of Gabriel & Phoebe. Although most of this property is located in the Broken Front of Lot 10. Property on the Bay Shore in lot 9 is still owned by George Anderson.In Gabriel’s death notice from the Hamilton Spectator his property was referred to as the “United Empire Heights”

County Map 1875

    Benjamin Crickmore sold 4 acres of his land to the Hamilton Powder Company on April 15th, 1882.This company was sold to the Canadian Explosives Ltd. in 1911. At some time the building eventually became a residence and was torn down in the early 1950’s to make way for a new development on Danforth Place. It was located close to the water on what is now Powder Magazine Rd.

 Former Powder Magazine turned resident in the 1940s.

   Mary Fish sold her property that was known as the Grove Cottage Inn as well as the strip along Plains Rd. in Concession 1 in December 1868 to George Long (1807-1893) whose name is on the County map that was created around 1875. From this date on it is not believed that the “Grove Cottage” existed as an Inn or Tavern. These Longs are not related to the Longs from Lot 2 for which Long Acres Survey was named.

     Previously George Long and his wife Jane (1797-1874) were living in Halton County on the 1851 and 1861 Census. According to the 1861 Agricultural Census their property consisted of 10 acres on the south west corner of Highway 5 and Appleby Line. Jane Long passed away in December 1874. George Long stayed on Lot 9 long enough to be recorded on the 1881 Census and a year later in November he sold the 1 acre in the Broken Front and the 14 acres in Concession 1 to Albert Unsworth.

    It is not known when George Long moved to Burlington but he is living in the village of Burlington on the 1891 Census as a widow. He passed away on February 12th, 1893 and is buried in the East Plains Church Cemetery on Plains Road in Aldershot. Likely he is buried with his wife Jane but we can’t say for sure as the cemetery records were destroyed when the church burned to the ground in 1907.

     On May 11th, 1893 an article titled “Burlington” appeared in this Milton newspaper 3 months after George Long’s death. It was not about Burlington at all. It was about the contents of George’s will, something that you would never see today. Of interest to me was the receiver of George’s property that he owned in the town of Burlington. Her name was Susan Waterworth (1838-1929), wife of John Waterworth (1818-1901), carpenter and both lived in the village of Burlington with George. She received his land and the contents of his house for looking after him in his later years.

  If you were to look at the 1881 Census of Aldershot, this couple’s names appear directly below George Long’s name and living in a separate residence, likely on George’s property on Lot 9 in Aldershot. According to the 1871 Census there were four dwellings on this property even though a map from around 1875 shows only one on the NE corner.

     George Long’s property in Burlington was Lot 7 in Block F along with another property that he had on New Street. John Waterworth’s death certificate dated 1901, has his address as Elizabeth Street. Using a map of Burlington from 1890, Lot 7 was on the north side of James Street between John & Elizabeth Streets and it is quite possible that the Heritage house at 458 Elizabeth was once the home of George Long.

 After Susan’s husband John Waterworth passed away, she married the widow Logan McCann (1831-1912) of Halton County on May 22nd, 1902.Susan is buried in the Greenwood Cemetery with both of her husbands.

    When Albert Unsworth(1840-1913) closed his “Fancy Goods” store in Hamilton and moved to Lot 9 in 1882 he was not the first of his family to live in the area. Back in 1849 his father Giles had purchased a farm a little north of Plains Road along what is now known as Sumach Drive.

    Giles Gorton Unsworth, his wife Anna and their 9 children (7 daughters & 2 sons) first immigrated to New York in August of 1848. Not liking the United States resentment of the British Empire, the family quickly decided to come to Canada first settling in Hamilton then purchasing the Grove Farm on Lot 9.

    The eldest son Richard had studied teaching and his first job was at the lower school house or SS#1 on Lot #3 during the winter of 1848. He boarded with the family of Joseph Lyons who lived nearby.  Below is the Ship’s Passenger list from August 12, 1848 followed by Richard Unsworth’s description of the first school in Aldershot written in 1896 when he lived in Fergus, Ontario.

     Both parents, Giles and Anna died one year apart. Anna passed away on Sept.15th, 1850 and Giles on October 28th, 1851. Both are buried in St. Luke’s Cemetery in Burlington. In his will Giles stated that the farm can be leased but not sold until the youngest child (Albert) turns 21. It cannot be said where the children went after their last parent died. Looking at the census from 1861 the younger children are living with their older siblings. Richard is living alone in Fergus as a teacher. Albert and his sister Amelia are living with their sister Louisa who is married to Robert Dickson and they are living in the township of Bentinck in Grey County. Other siblings married and left for the U.S.  Albert is now 21 years old. The following year, 1862, he married Ann Elizabeth Burdette (1846-1918) on October 9th. She lived close to Albert in neighboring Bentinck Township.

   Albert and his family seem to have been missed on the 1871 Census but using Hamilton’s City Directories the following information was found. In 1866 he was a laborer living on King Street. The 1870 directory tells us that he was a machine operator (likely a knitting machine) and by 1873 he had a Variety store at 152 King Street East until 1875. Around 1877 he has moved his “Fancy Goods” store a block away and is now located at 136 &138 King St. until 1882.

     Albert and Elizabeth’s family consisted of the following children. Albert (1865-1934) moved first to Michigan then Cleveland, Ohio, Robert (1865-1917) moved first to Yukon then B.C., Giles (1869-1954) moved to San Francisco and George (1870-1955), Edith (1873-1956), Gertrude (1875-1965), Evelyn (1878-1966) and Alex (1880-1969) remained in Wentworth County.

    Just before Christmas on December 23rd, 1881 there was a terrible fire at Unsworth’s store on King St. The family lived on the second floor and the third floor was used as a knitting factory. This happened just as Albert was busy preparing to close his store and retire from the business. Just about a year later he purchased the land in Lot 9 from George Long.

 By 1891 Albert Unsworth’s sons Albert and Giles have married and moved to the States. The next oldest son Robert Edward has also married and is living in a house on Lot 9. He and his wife Alice Weaver (1869-18??) have two sons, Robert Burdett Unsworth (1888-1970) and Frederick Morley Unsworth (1890-1891). George and his younger siblings are still living at home. Around 1894 the parents Albert and Elizabeth moved back into Hamilton leaving George to look after the up and coming greenhouse business.

   In 1891 both Robert’s wife Alice and their son Morley passed away. The death record or burial place cannot be found for Alice but there was an announcement in the paper for Morley’s passing and he is buried in the Hamilton Cemetery.

   The following year Robert was seeing a girl named Margaret Nichols and she became pregnant. The baby boy’s name was George Nichols (1893-1950?). The relationship did not last and the next we here of Margaret is from the 1901 Census where she is living with Robert’s Brother George as his domestic help along with her son George.

    Robert remarried and left on his own with 3 other men for the Yukon in early 1898. On the 1901 Census from there is his wife Rosa Swezey (1875-1924), his son Robert Burdett from his first marriage have joined him. This son had previously been living with his Uncle Albert in Michigan. There is also two daughters, Iris 6 and Caroline 3 with him. Both girls were born in Hamilton and they eventually moved to California in the 1920’s. Robert Burdett Unsworth also ended up in California becoming a well-known advertising artist.

     Around 1900 George began building green houses on his property. Water from Burlington Bay was sent to a water tank on the property from a pump house located on land that his father Albert had purchased from his neighbor Benjamin Crickmore (1818-1894) in January 1892. Mr. Crickmore was a step-son of Gabriel Hopkins, whose family were the first to settle on Lot 9.

Looking north towards Plains Rd.

Looking east with Hendrie's Valley farmhouse in the background

County Map 1903

Plains Rd. at Unsworth Ave. looking east.

In the above picture the house on the left in front of the water tower faced Plains Rd.  It was moved to 913 Unsworth Ave.  The 11/2 story house on the right side faced Unsworth Ave. was moved to 909 Unsworth Ave.  Both houses are still located there.                                 

 George Unsworth eventually married Margaret Nichols and they had one child together. He was named Albert Gorton (1906-1986). Margaret Nichols’ son George was 18 years old on the 1911 Census and was still living with the family and eventually went out on his own but did stay in the Wentworth County area. It is believed that he died in 1950.

    More land to the south of the Unsworth property was acquired by George in December 1897. Eight acres were purchased from brothers James Leckie (1851-1947) & William R Leckie (1846-1939) for $2000.00. James Leckie had purchased 22 acres that extended to Burlington Bay from Rev. George Anderson in 1884 for $5000.00. James sold this property to his brother William Rankin Leckie in September of 1893. James Leckie is listed on the 1891 Census as living on Lot 9 with his family but his brother William who was the Secretary/Treasurer at the City Hall in Hamilton never lived there. He lived in Hamilton till around 1920 retiring to Grimsby.

    Around 1907 these 22 acres were sold to Edwin Whyte (1870-1936), a famous race horse trainer who worked at the Valley Farm owned by William Hendrie. “Eddie” Whyte likely lived at # 903 Unsworth Avenue . He developed the property know as the Eddie Wyyte Survey and then moved to 344 Northshore Blvd once it was built. It is possible that W. D. Flatt was also involved with the development of this property in 1930.  It became known as the Buena Vista Survey as shown below.

Eddie Whyte
On front porch of 903 Unsworth Ave. in 1919

   The Unsworth property in Concession 1 that was located along the north side of Plains road between Unsworth Avenue and Easterbrook Avenue was sold to Stanley Mills prior to 1918 which is the year that the “Stanley Mills Survey” was registered. It is possible that this transaction occurred sometime after Albert Unsworth’s death in 1913.

     There were a total six large greenhouses and four smaller ones that were built by Albert and George Unsworth. Tomatoes and lettuce were the main products grown there. A boiler that was located ina brick building with a tall chimney on Plains Road fed steam under the soil in the green houses to keep it warm and also kill any mould or bacteria. Eventually their business changed to growing flowers such as snapdragons, carnations and chrysanthemums. After George’s son Albert retired in the 1970’s, his daughters operated the business into the early 2000’s.

 In the 1990’s the field south of the green houses was sold to a developer and in 2005 the boiler building and greenhouses were demolished to make way for a senior’s development.