This post is a little shorter than most by the Ranger, as it does not have a lot of recorded history but is likely one of the most unusual and attractive buildings in the town of Port Hope. Where else could you find a 175 year old historically designated (in 1989) three story former industrial brick building attached to and almost surrounded by a modern multi-floor apartment building? After the Chalk Carriage Works closed in 1934 after the death of its owner, it remained vacant for some years before being converted to a few apartments. Many years later, developers desired to build a massive apartment complex on this very valuable property. Rather than demolish the old factory, thanks to some very far-thinking persons it was decided to incorporate the old and new together…to those developers we all should say thank you.
Robert Chalk, an English immigrant arrived in Port Hope, Ontario in 1842. At the young age of twenty-two Robert established a wagon and carriage business at 46 Cavan Street west of the Ganaraska River at South Street. Built into the steep (Chalk) hill of South Street, this attractive building is one of very few industrial buildings to be found on Cavan Street today. The Chalk family were renowned for their quality lumber wagons and carriages and even offered blacksmith services to the town folks. This successful family business operated from 1842-1931 in the same location and was known as one of the oldest in Upper Canada.
The factory was a three story building fronting on Cavan Street. The first floor featured their showroom of products and the wood working department. The second floor was used for the painting and a third floor was the trimming area. The shop employed six men in the early days and grew to thirty-five or more in the busiest years. There were a few other shorter lived competitors in town. Sherin’s Carriage Factory was devoted to carriage making, pleasure sleighs and cutters. This company employed fourteen hands and completed two carriages a week and there was also the Messrs. Morgan Foundry and the Porter’s Foundries producing wagons and ploughs.
In a Port Hope Business paper of 1907 can be found this article: “Thomas B. Chalk… the vehicles turned out by this house are noted for strength of construction ease of motion, and elegance of finish and everyone is warranted as to material and workmanship. The premises utilized for office and factory, located on Cavan Street since 1845 by the father of the present proprietor. The commodious premises on Cavan Street is well equipped and a full force of skilled mechanics is employed here. Carriages, buggies, trucks, wagons, bobsleighs, cutters etc. of all kinds, light and heavy are built here and perfect satisfaction is assured. They are in constant and increasing demand and throughout this entire vicinity and are supplied at terms and prices which are invariably satisfactory to the trade. The proprietor of this establishment, Mr. T. B. Chalk is a thoroughly reliable businessman and a gentleman of many years of experience in this line. He stands high both in social and commercial circles and is especially esteemed for his sterling worth.”
Thomas carried on the business after his father Robert retired shortly before his death in 1890. Thomas Butterfield Chalk married Florence Louisa Rosevear. Thomas was a very strong Conservative and president of the East Durham Liberal-Conservative Association, chair of the local public school board, a member of the Methodist Church, an avid sportsman and owned several race horses. Thomas was also the Port Hope mayor from 1905-1906 and it was during his second term 1925-1927 as mayor that the streets were paved and sewers laid. In 1927, he was appointed to the Government’s Liquor Control Board. The original liquor store (No. 79) opened on the north side of Walton Street between Ontario and Queen Streets. Mayor Chalk was the first Vendor.