Early Days

The untold story of the Hinton family, part two

[This is the second part of a series of three. Read the first one right here.]

By Dave Allston – 

In my previous column, readers were introduced to Joseph Hinton in his pre-Kitchissippi years. Part two begins following the 1849 death of his wife’s brother-in-law, the infamous Jemmy Johnston of Bytown.

On January 9, 1851, Joseph Hinton acquired from Johnston’s estate all of his remaining property holdings for the staggeringly low price of £200 pounds. Within those holdings, which included land in Ottawa, Richmond and throughout the County and title to four pews at Christ Church in Bytown, was lot 35 in Nepean Township. It encompassed 200 acres between present-day Parkdale and Harmer, from Scott to Carling. It was wilderness three kilometers east of Bytown, which had been first incorporated as a town only a year earlier. Richmond Road ran through the property, then, just a rough path used by Carleton County farmers as an overland link to Bytown to access the water transportation network along the Ottawa River and Rideau Canal.

Joseph held on to this property for seven years and in April 1858, sold nearly all of lot 35 (except for the small part north of Richmond Road, west of Parkdale and east of Hamilton) to his 26-year-old son Robert for £1,000. (He later deeded the remainder in three parcels to his three daughters. The Grants, Letts, and Pattersons would all eventually return the land to him, with only Donald Grant and his wife Eliza Jane Hinton ever having lived in the area. Grant Street is named for them.

By 1860, 29-year-old Robert had moved to the area, opened a farm along Richmond Road, and built a 1.5 storey frame house for himself and his wife, Matilda Mansfield, who he married in Perth in April 1860. They had four children: Joseph Carleton (1863), Albert Edward (1864), Augusta Matilda (1865), and Robert George Clifford (1867). Matilda died in 1867, possibly during childbirth. Robert remarried that year to Eliza Hyde (a descendant of the Hyde Park family), and they had three children together: Thomas Hyde (1869), William Pittman Lett (1871) and John Alexander Macdonald (1873).

Photo of Robert J. Hinton, circa 1880. Silver gelatin courtesy of the Bytown Museum, P181

Photo of Robert J. Hinton, circa 1880. Silver gelatin courtesy of the Bytown Museum, P181

Robert Hinton was a farmer and a dedicated member of the County of Carleton Agricultural Society. Like his father, Robert also worked as a coroner for the County of Carleton from 1855 until 1881. During his early years on Richmond Road, Robert was also an officer of the Sedentary Militia, a very early volunteer forces raised from local communities for the defense of Canada in the event of invasion, a particular concern during the American Civil War.

Robert was extremely well regarded. According to the Ottawa Citizen: “By his honest manliness of character he had earned for himself the respect and esteem of all with whom he came in contact in public or private.”

The 1867 Nepean assessment roll was the first to provide details about Robert’s farm. It was valued at $9,000. The Hintons owned 10 cows, seven hogs, four horses and one dog. Over the years, the Hintons would own as many as 30 cattle and 24 sheep at a time. The farm was later described as containing eight acres of woodland and seven acres of wheat.

In 1871, Joseph retired from his affairs in Richmond and moved on to his son’s farm along Richmond Road. He had re-acquired nine acres from his son at the northwest junction of Richmond and Parkdale back in 1867 and built a tiny wood-frame house where an apartment now stands at 16 Bullman St. He resided alone. The house faced north, and when he built it, he would have had an unobstructed view to the Ottawa River. (Amazingly this house later stood in an abandoned and dilapidated condition for over forty years after Joseph’s death!)

Notably, Joseph was a passenger on the first ever train to travel through Kitchissippi, the Canada Central Railway’s inaugural train which left LeBreton Flats on September 15, 1870 destined for Carleton Place. (The rail followed the path of where the Transitway exists today.) Perhaps it was during that historic morning that Joseph looked out the window of the bright, new passenger car and envisioned a home in that quiet and isolated wilderness of his. It would be just months later that indeed he would build on that spot.

Joseph lived his final years in this serene location, though he remained active and walked regularly to and from Ottawa to visit family. As late as 1879, Belden’s Atlas described him this way: “though old in years is young in spirit, and more youthful far in appearance and physical appearance than the majority of men still many years his junior in point of age.”

In July 1874, with the railway age arriving in Kitchissippi and more growth on the way, the Hintons decided to open up part of their farm for development along Parkdale. A plan was filed with the Registry Office laying out 202 lots on 17 new streets named for family members. However, lot sales were slow and only a handful sold in the isolated countryside.

In 1875, Robert Hinton had the original farm homestead demolished and a built a 21-room house in its place. The house was set back a little from Richmond Road, approximately where Morris Home Hardware stands today. This incredible home (which would be a landmark along Wellington if it still stood today) was demolished only 20 years later when investors acquired the farm and aggressively sold lots for development.

In 1875, Robert Hinton had this grand 21-room house built just off Richmond Road, approximately where Morris Home Hardware stands today. Silver gelatin courtesy of the Bytown Museum, P181

The Hintons donated land just south of the old fire hall on Parkdale for the construction of the Nepean Town Hall, which hosted its first council meeting in February 1879. The agreement stipulated the town hall must remain at this location, otherwise payment would be owed. When Hintonburg later separated from Nepean and the town hall relocated to Westboro, Hinton heirs successfully sued the Township for this money.

Next, Joseph Hinton worked to have a post office established in the growing village. He was successful, and the post office opened on August 1, 1879. Post offices were required to have a name for their location. “So grateful were his neighbours for the convenience secured for them,” wrote the Ottawa Journal later, “that they named the hamlet after him.”

Though the Hintons made efforts to create a community by subdividing their farm and establishing the town hall and post office, their vision was simply a few years too early, though that success would eventually come.

Sadly, the Hinton men were little able to enjoy the community for which they had laid the groundwork. The following few years would see much change, tragedy, and sadness for the Hinton family. Stay tuned for the final chapter in this series in the April 12 edition of KT.

Dave Allston is a local historian and the author of a blog called The Kitchissippi Museum. His family has lived in Kitchissippi for six generations. Do you have early memories or photos of Hintonburg? Send your email to stories@kitchissippi.com or leave your comment below.

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