Address: 6981 Fourth Line
Location: N. 1/2 W. 1/2 L. 27 C. 3
Date and Fabric: c. 1865, two storey brick
|David Beggs and Ellen [Thomson] Beggs||prior to 1888 [see narrative]|
|Thomas Beggs||1888 - 1889||William Cowell||1889 - 1899|
|Robert J. Dixon||1899 - 1908||Cyrus H. Dixon||1908 - 1908|
|William Callendar||1908 - 1916||Nellie McClemont||1916 - 1918|
|Alexander Dillon||1918 - 1920||John C. and Alice Wallace||1920 - 1941|
|Ernest J. Faith||1941 - 1942||Merle and Margaret Dobson||1942 - 1945|
|Charles and Madge Craig||1945 - 1968||Mr. and Mrs Henighan
[later Mrs. MacDonald]
Also two more photographs from 1990 and two from 1986 also on file. Also an interesting 19th c. photo showing the Beggs family in front of the house.
The original owner of this attractive farmhouse was David Beggs [1820 - 1901] who was Reeve of North Gower from 1864 to 1865. The house was probably built around this time as were many other early brick homes in the Rideau Township area. Beggs was married to Ellen M.M. Thomson [1824 - 1900] who was a daughter of John Thomson, the original settler of lots 25 to 28. [see 2223 Lockhead Road] In 1847, Ellen received the southern half of lot 27 from her father, but the part of the lot where the house is [the western half of the northern half], was not acquired by the couple until 1865. The house is marked on Belden's 1879 map of North Gower Township so it was probably built within that 14 year span.
In 1888 ownership of the house appears to have passed to Thomas Beggs, one of David's sons. In 1889 he sold the property to William Cowell who, ten years later, sold to Robert J. Dixon. Dixon, cryptically nicknamed "Caw" by the village boys, also later owned the house at 2343 Church Street [q.v.]. He probably rented out the old Beggs house. Mr Colin Thomson remembered that a man named Billy Lewis Crawford lived in the house and farmed the land. The name Crawford is not listed in the lot abstract, however, so it seems likely that he was a tenant. In 1908, title accrued to Cyrus H. Dixon, possibly Robert's son, and in the same year he sold to William Callendar. In 1916, Nellie McClement [? sp.] became the owner, and she sold to Alexander Dillon in 1918. It is not known whether the house and farm were occupied by this trio of owners, or if the buildings were rented to tenants.
In 1920, John C. Wallace bought the property and lived on it with his wife Alice until his death in 1939. Two years later, Alice Wallace sold to Ernest J. Faith, who kept it for only a year before selling to Merle and Margaret Dobson in 1942. The Dobsons lived in the house for three years. In 1945, Charles and Madge Craig, operators of the farm machinery business in North Gower, moved in. The current owner is Mrs. Diana MacDonald, who purchased the house from the Craigs in 1968 with her former husband, Mr. Henighan. Mrs. MacDonald remembered that the Craigs used the house only as a summer residence and spent the winters in North Gower. She also recalled Mrs. Craig's reminiscences about attending dances at the house in the 1920's and 1930's. Mrs. Craig was originally a Wallace and would have visited her relatives, John and Alice Wallace, many times.
The house is situated on what was once a steep hill but much of the surrounding land has been built up by the MacDonalds who have devoted a lot of time to gardening and landscaping the property. The house has undergone no apparent structural change since a brick addition was constructed to form the westerly end [but see postscript]. Just to the right of the westernmost front window, a line in the brickwork reveals what was once the edge of the house. The addition is quite old since it is included in the 19th century picture of the house with the Beggs family standing in front of it. Mrs. MacDonald noted that it has no basement, unlike the rest of the house, and speculated that it might have been a woodshed. It is interesting that the addition has only a single layer of brick, while the rest of the house is built with three layers. The bricks are generally soft.
The inside walls are of lath and plaster construction. The dining room walls are lined to waist height with an unusual pattern of horizontally placed pine boards. The top and bottom boards are a greater distance from the wall than is the centre board, and all the connecting planks are distanced from the wall in rough proportion to their proximity to the centre board: i.e.,
Cross section of
Dining room wainscot
As a result of this arrangement, a shelf or mantel is formed which encircles the room about four feet off the floor.
The kitchen originally had a tin ceiling which was replaced by the MacDonalds. A large quantity of chaff fell when the ceiling was removed; this may have been a consequence of the chickens that were once housed in the loft above the kitchen. Of the original three chimneys, two have been removed and one has been closed up. Two new ones were added, one for a woodstove and one for an oil furnace that was replaced with electric heating in 1984. The roof of the house is covered with aluminum under which lie the original wooden shingles. 53 Plumbing and hydro were installed only in 1968.
Internally, the house has been fully modernized but a comparison of the 19th century photograph with the building as it stands suggests that the exterior has changed little since the days of Reeve Beggs. Superficial modifications include the removal of the old wooden verandah, the chimneys and the picket fence, and changing two doors into windows.[after Peter Davidson. Sources 1, 2, 4]
Since Mr. Davidson wrote the foregoing account in 1986, the house has been extensively and sensitively modified. A new roof now covers the westerly extension, with a ridge about six feet higher than the original. With the addition of new dormer windows, the old loft appears to have been converted to a fully functional second storey. On the photograph, the end gable clearly shows the old and new rooflines; there were no dormers in the old configuration. In addition, no chimneys are now visible from the driveway or the east side. [D. Bartlett, 1990]
53 Original? Wood shingles in this climate are good for about 25 years, so this would suggest that the metal roof went on in about 1890. Maybe it did, but it doesn't look that old.