In the Matter of the Ontario Heritage Act

Notice of Intent to Designate

The Ontario Heritage Act, R.S.O., 1990, Chapter 0.18 as amended, provides that the Municipal Council may pass a by-law designating property within the boundaries of the municipality to be of cultural heritage value and interest. The Council of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent hereby gives Notice of Intent to designate the following:

Description of Property:

The property is located at 8800 Talbot Trail, Community of Harwich, Chatham-Kent, legally described as PT LT 9, CON 4, WEST COMMUNICATION ROAD (HARWICH), PTS 4 & 5, 24R709, S/T 367575 HARWICH

Statement of Cultural Heritage Value or Interest:

Historical/Associative (OHA Reg. 9/06):

The structure has been associated with two families that played a significant role in the development of Chatham-Kent.

George Sicklesteel (Sichelstils) came to North America from Uhlfeld, Neustadt Bavaria to fight in the American Revolution. In the late 18th Century, the Prince of Hesse and other German States including Bavaria contracted out their fighting forces in order to raise money to fund their governments. The British Government hired 30,000 Germans (1/4 of the British fighting force), to fight combat actions in the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). They wore their traditional uniforms and fought under the command of German officers and saw action in virtually every major engagement of the war. They became known, by the Americans, as Hessian Mercenaries. After the war, some 5000 German soldiers remained in North America, many of whom received land grants in Upper Canada from the British Government. George Sicklesteel was one of these land recipients being acknowledged as the first real settler on the Chatham Township river front* c. 1794.

George Sicklesteel and his wife Margaretha Binsenscham had five children, four of whom were among the first born to white settlers in Kent County. David, born in 1802, took over the family farm and constructed a large frame structure that he operated as an inn around 1840. At the west end of the structure was a tavern/tap room, the entrance to which was on the south/river side and according to legend, was large enough for a customer to ride his horse through and the bar was high enough to look over but too high for a horse to jump**. In the 1860s, the building became known as the Caledonia Inn, perhaps corresponding to David's second marriage to a Scottish woman and his religious conversion from Church of England to the Free Church of Scotland. By 1867 the structure was still operating as an inn but a sawmill, operated by David Sicklesteel Jr., known as a lumber merchant, had also been established on the property. The inn is discussed and pictured in the seminal book "Tavern in the Town; Early Inns and Taverns of Ontario" by Margaret McBurney and Mary Byers who describe the Caledonia as an "impressive inn" and "a simple but well-proportioned building of singular beauty". Although we often think of inns as lodgings for weary travellers, they were also temporary residences for new immigrant families who needed accommodation while they waited for their lands to be surveyed or for their first houses to be constructed. Many Chatham and Harwich township families' first home in Kent County was very likely David Sicklesteel's inn.

In the 1880s, David Sicklesteel had moved to Harwich Township and the property passed to the Newkirk family. The Newkirks were also one of Kent County's earliest pioneer families. The original Newkirk settler, Samuel, a United Empire Loyalist, received a land grant west of Chatham in recognition of his service with Butler's Rangers during the American Revolution. Family history indicates that he may have descended from Gerret Cornelisse van Nieuwkirk who settled in New York in the late 1600s. His son, James, served in the Kent Militia during the War of 1812. By the 1880s, Newkirks were established on both sides of the Thames in Dover and Raleigh Townships and one descendant ultimately acquired the Sickleteel property in Chatham Township. James Reuben Newkirk (1873-1949) moved the old inn further south away from Longwoods Road and closer to the Thames River on the same property in the 1930s.

 Following James' death in 1949, the property was occupied by Garnet and Muriel Newkirk. Garnet Newkirk was an important figure in 20th century Chatham and Kent County politics. He served in the RCAF during World War II and was a long serving mayor of Chatham from the 1950s to the 1970s. He ran as a liberal in the 1964 provincial election, being defeated by Darcy McKeough. Among his many posts, he was president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario in 1970 and chair of the Rondeau Provincial Park Advisory Committee from 1974-78. The property remained in the Newkirk family until 2013.

In 2013, the Newkirk property was sold and the inn was threatened with demolition. In November 2015, local farmer and heritage enthusiast Mr. Don Thompson undertook one of the most ambitious building relocation projects in Chatham-Kent's history when the 25 meter long Sickelsteel-Newkirk house was moved 20 kilometers from Longwoods Road east of Chatham, over the Thames River and Highway 401 to a new location on the Talbot Trail just east of Cedar Springs. The most recent ambitious project to relocate and save one of Chatham-Kent's most historic properties is now, in itself, part of the historic significance of the structure.

Design/Physical (OHA Reg. 9/06):

The Sicklesteel/Newkirk property consists of an excellent and well preserved example of a mid-19th century clapboard sided post and beam inn and tavern built in the Greek Revival style with a seven bay façade.

Contextual (OHA Reg. 9/06):

The Sicklesteel/Newkirk House, in its new location, has become a landmark along the Talbot Trail.

Any person may, within 30 days of the date of this Notice, serve on the Clerk, a Notice of Objection in writing, setting out the objection and all relevant facts. Where a Notice of Objection has been served, the Council of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent shall refer the matter to the Conservation Review Board for a hearing.

Dated at the Municipality of Chatham-Kent this 11th day of September, 2019.



Description of Property:

The property is located at 9388 Cedar Hedge Line, Community of Chatham Township, Chatham-Kent, legally described as LT 7 CON 9 CHATHAM W OF PRINCE ALBERT SIDEROAD EXCEPT D1247 AND CH12981; T/W 202750 & 202752; CHATHAM-KENT.

Statement of Cultural Heritage Value or Interest:

Historical/Associative (OHA Reg. 9/06):

The Prince Albert Baptist Church is an important surviving structure associated with the pre- Civil War Chatham Township Black settlement. While people are generally familiar with four early Black communities in Chatham-Kent (Buxton/Elgin Settlement, Dawn/Dresden, Chatham and, later, Shrewsbury), the significant early settlement of Black farmers in Chatham Township is largely unknown or combined with Dresden. In fact, this was a separate and significant community.

This settlement developed in the central area of Chatham Township flanking the Prince Albert Road. A comprehensive research paper on the development of Chatham Township 1792-1851 by Darren Bruhlman identifies this area of the Township as quite marshy, poorly drained, and largely passed over by earlier settlers. His report does not identify any Black settlers in the area so it is likely that the immigration occurred after 1851 following the Fugitive Slave Act in the United States. By accounts of several present day descendants still residing on family farms in the area, many of the original settlers were free Black farmers that emigrated from the United States preceding the Civil War. It is important to note that this agricultural settlement was distinct from the near-by Dawn Settlement (Dresden). Unlike Dawn, which was established by the British American Institute, Chatham Township was not a planned settlement.

The first church in this community was Union Baptist Church, established in 1885, that still stands at 10586 Union Line Road, Chatham Township. In 1894, the Second Union Baptist Church was built on the corner of Prince Albert Line and Cedar Hedge Line. The land was purchased the preceding year from Mrs. Sarah Ferguson, a banker in Thamesville (and wife of John Ferguson, builder of Tecumseh Hall/Westover). The current church structure bears a cornerstone that is dated 1915 and replaces the original that may have been destroyed by fire. It is one of only two remaining structures associated with this early Black settlement.

The Prince Albert Baptist Church property also has an historic association with Rev. Jennie Johnson, a champion for racial and gender equality. Johnson was born in Chatham Township in 1868. Her father and all of her grandparents had been slaves. She attended Wilberforce University, an African Methodist Episcopalian-run institution in Xenia Ohio, and she was ordained in 1909. She was the first Canadian-born ordained female minister to serve in Canada.

Johnson helped found the new Free Baptist Church, (a part of the Michigan Association of Freewill Baptists), the successor of the original Second Union Baptist Church on this site. She served as its minister from its founding in 1911 until 1913. She then moved to Flint, Mich. in 1926 to found a church and mission centre for the growing number of African-Americans then moving north to work in Michigan's booming auto plants.

As part of a Baptist fellowship with churches in both Michigan and Ontario, Johnson was frequently in Essex County and Chatham-Kent, but moved to Detroit when she retired from the Flint mission in the early 1950s. As late as 1964, when she was in her late 90s, Johnson attended an Ontario convention of Baptist leaders. She died in 1967, and her funeral was conducted in Chatham Township, with burial in the Dresden Cemetery.

Design/Physical (OHA Reg. 9/06):

The Prince Albert Baptist Church Property includes a good surviving example of a small early 20th century rural church. The brick structure has a medium pitched roof, simple Gothic-arched windows and a simple bell tower and few exterior decorative elements.

Contextual (OHA Reg. 9/06):

The church is in a highly visible location on the corner of Prince Albert Line and Cedar Hedge Line, surrounded by flat farmland, much of which is still owned by descendants of the original Chatham Township Black settlers.

Any person may, within 30 days of the date of this Notice, serve on the Clerk, a Notice of Objection in writing, setting out the objection and all relevant facts. Where a Notice of Objection has been served, the Council of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent shall refer the matter to the Conservation Review Board for a hearing.

Dated at the Municipality of Chatham-Kent this 11th day of September, 2019.