One of the reasons why I love writing this column is being invited over to meet the people I interview in their home. This time it was different. In these uncharted times it was best that we meet the old school way, by phone, it seemed right to chat from the comfort of our own homes.
When I started talking to Scott Orme and he began describing his home it triggered my memory. I remembered their house at 70 Byron Ave., it was one of the homes that had been hit by a tree in a wild wind storm from a cold front one October day in 2017. “We had been worried about the tree in August that sat at the front of our home and then the tree hit both the neighbours house and ours. It actually hit the two homes in a Y shape. Fortunately, the damage wasn’t as bad as it could be”, stated Orme.
Scott and his partner Shaun Patton have lived in the home since 2014. Having previously lived in Old North, in the Woodfield district, they already had a passion for the charm of old homes. The walkability that Old South offered and the ability to walk downtown to their respective workplaces were definitely appealing factors for their move too.
Naturally Orme and Patton were curious about the history of their home as a few of their neighbours that had lived next door for over 35 years had plenty to share about previous owners. One of the former owners had lived in there for close to 50 years! “The next person who purchased the home had totally renovated the home, retaining what they could of the charm, such as the original doors, hardware, stair railings, and bringing back the original yellow brick after having being painted white”, explained Orme.
Orme went on to describe that there are four homes that are mirror images in a row that line Byron Ave. – all uniquely different from the original exteriors but clearly built by the same builder.
Orme and Patton decided to contact the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, ACO, to delve more deeply into the rich history that this 1886 home offered. They learned that Byron Ave. was originally called Alma Street back until 1890. It was renamed to Byron Ave. because Old North also had a street of the same name. One quirky thing about 70 Byron is their garage is accessed off of 69 Euclid so their home stretches two streets. Records show in 1916 the property was valued at $1850, a long shot off what Old South homes can fetch now!
Although it was difficult to pinpoint some of the history of who inhabited the home, the 1891 London directory determined Myles Y. Legate was the first resident. Legate, originally from Ireland where he was born in 1845 had immigrated to Canada in 1859. The 1861 census lists Legate as a biscuit and candy maker from Belleville. In 1886, the London Directory shows Myles Legate on Alma Street, now Byron Ave. It appears Myles continued in the same industry when he moved to London where he worked as a “traveller” (likely a salesman) at McCormicks Biscuit and Candy factory at Dundas and Wellington. (McCormicks moved to Dundas East in 1914.) Legate died in 1916 with his wife staying on in the home until 1917. The next occupant was a barber named Fred Catt.
The home has come a long way since it was built in 1886, now a beautifully landscaped exterior and the interior lovingly taken care of by Orme and Patton and enjoyed by their rescue dog, Dana. I can’t wait until I can physically see the house in person!