I was pleased to attend the recent walking tour conducted by Dr. Elwood Jones of the Trent Valley Archives of the Avenues in Peterborough’s old west end.
My great grandfather started the family construction company in 1905 by buying lots (by auction) on Boswell Avenue and building houses. He was 47 years old and had left a management position with the Edison Electric in the street car division and was greatly supported by his wife Mary (Rishor) . In fact she was the salesperson and promoter of the small enterprise.
They built their own home at 327 Boswell a 2 ½ storey in about 1909, they are shown in the census of 1911 at this address as well as his youngest son Sheldon H. and his wife Hilda. They were both only 19 years old and newly married..
My grandfather Harry joined the firm soon after the company was formed as the business was doing very well. He had left a position with the Toronto Savings and Loan. In the 1911 census Harry his wife Dora son Charles Jr. ( my father ) were in a new 21/2 storey at 509 King Street. Sheldon also joined the company and later lived in a house they built at 535 King Street.
The house plan they used at 327 Boswell Street was built on other lots in the area including on King and Maitland Streets. They also built the same plan for my grandfather’s older sister Olive and her husband Terry Glover on Mark Street in Ashburnham.
One of the plans that they built was a 21/2 storey that was a plan from the Scientific American Magazine. Dr. Jones pointed out to our group a home that was built for Marlow Bank’s father on Maitland Ave. It is typical of their workmanship as the house still has the finely detailed wood work around the 3rd floor window, and fascia. My great grandfather also did a lot of the interior trim and doors.
In 1911 they purchased a back lot off John Street, behind the house at 535 King Street. They had a shop built on the lot and some of the windows and doors , detailed exterior trim and most of the interior trim was made in this location.. This shop was used by Charles Huffman Ltd. until 1962 when the company relocated to a new building at 670 Crown Drive off the Kingsway.
In 1920 Harry built a new house at 311 Elias Ave. It was a modified cottage designed 2 storey with a full veranda on the front elevation which incorporated a modified flat roof on the veranda portion with a walk out from the second floor. This design was very popular in other areas and was built on lots on Downie and Park Streets as well as Hunter Street, West. Harry’s new house was one of the last new homes built on the avenues as the last lots were sold on Elias Ave. in 1925.
My grandfather passed away in 1934 and my father Charles took over the company with the help of his grandfather. His mother sold Elias Ave and purchased 629 Charlotte Street
“Moira Hall” from the Bradburn family. They converted the grand home to a four plex and my grandmother lived there for over thirty years.
After the second world war my uncle Robert joined the company and they built homes on the Moira Hall property on Monahgan Road from Charlotte Street to Anne. And later Hazeldean was developed. They also built their own homes on Charlotte Street and Huffman Street. For over 60 years the Huffmans built homes in this area from Park Street to Albertus Ave. For many years from the 1950’s until the mid 1980’s the company was one of the largest commercial and industrial builders in central Ontario, but that is another interesting store.