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Towns & Industry (1860-1880)

B.C. Davy's Mayor's Desk & Chair

Davy Displaycase

Desk & Chair used by Napanee's first Mayor, Benjamin Canning Davy

As a young boy, Benjamin Davy attended the Bath Academy. He later studied law with classmate, John A. Macdonald, and was called to the Bar in 1850. After practising law in Bath and Kingston, Davy moved to Napanee, where he opened a law office in a small frame building on Dundas Street, just west of Centre Street. DISCOVER MOREReadmore Arrow

When Benjamin Davy located to Napanee, David Roblin was reeve of the village. The election of Village Trustees was held at the Tichborne House, a wooden inn, located east of his office at the north-eastern corner of John and Dundas Streets. By 1854, the Police Trustees launched an official petition to the Government of Canada at Quebec to "erect" Napanee to the status of an incorporated village. A proclamation was declared on September 29, 1854. On June 11, 1856, the cornerstone was laid for a Greek Revival-styled Town Hall just north of Dundas Street. The town hall had market stalls along the north side facing the commons where animals could be quartered overnight in a fenced area. The second floor of the Hall was used as a Council Chamber and also public assembly.

On the 1861 Census, Benjamin Davy and his wife, Ellen Eliza and their four daughters, ages 1- 7 years, and four servants, were living in a 1 storey brick house on Dundas Street. One of the boarders was Ellen's brother, John McCory. By 1863, B.C. Davy built a new Italianate-styled brick house to the north of his office. Reverend James Bogert, rector at St. Mary Magdalene's church on the Camden Road, noted in his 1863 diary that he "walked up to Davy's new house".

Davy's house was designed by E.A. Horsey, Architect, of Kingston, who also had designed the Napanee Town Hall. The house had thirteen rooms and two large halls, a cellar seven feet high, a cistern capable of holding 100 barrels of soft water and a never failing well, good outbuildings and an ice-house. The land was underdrained with tile.

By the 1864 Statutes of the Province of Canada, Napanee was incorporated as a town on December 1st, 1864, B.C. Davy was elected its first mayor in the ensuing election. He was joined by John Stevenson, Reeve, William McGillivary, Deputy-Reeve, and William Miller, John T. Grange, S. McL. Detlor, M.T. Rogers, John Gibbard, John Herring, and H.T. Forward, Councillors. A mayor's desk and council chairs were acquired for the Council Chambers. The underside of one Council chair is signed, "Made by John Gibbard, Napanee". The Mayor's paneled desk and chair with carved wheat sheaf may also be attributable to Gibbard. Note the spooled feet and arms on the chair. The red floral upholstery is not original.

Mayor Davy had the distinct pleasure of reading a Proclamation on July 1st, 1867, announcing to the local community that Canada was now officially a country. A platform was erected on the north side of the Town Hall. Four Companies of the 48th Battalion from Napanee, Odessa, Ernesttown and Amherst Island, and the Napanee Artillery attended. Merchants, declined to close their shops but displayed an abundance of flags and bunting. At 11:00 o'clock, Mayor Davy read the Proclamation. Members of Council and the Clergy joined him on the platform, and also, five prospective candidates in the forthcoming Dominion election. After giving three cheers to Her Majesty Queen Victoria and the new Confederation, the crowd dispersed to inns and tavern. After dinner, the militia volunteers demonstrated manoeuvres on the market square.

After his term as Mayor ended in 1868, Benjamin Davy, Barrister-at-Law, remained in Napanee practising law and as a local representative for the Anchor Fire and Life Insurance Company until he decided to travel to Canada's west in 1872. He advertised his "splendid brick cottage and grounds, one acre of land, situate on the corner of Graham and Robert Streets ... one of the best and most substantial in Napanee." He also advertised a house and lot in Clarkville. He returned a few months later but in February 1874, he contracted a severe case of pneumonia, after campaigning for his former classmate, Sir John A. Macdonald, and died shortly after. His widow, Ellen McCory Davy, outlived him by several years. She died at Chicago, April 16, 1917.

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