Early History of the Area
This area began, as did most of Ontario, as a wild and wooded region, best traveled by water. The first known settler in the Brighton area arrived in 1796; a gentleman named Obediah Simpson. By 1831 there were 19 official families in the area, as well as a number of unregistered settlers. By 1851 there were 500 people and 10 mills in Brighton. As did most small towns of the area, Brighton reached its peak in population and prosperity between 1830 and 1875. Each of the settler families had their own specialty and their own importance to the community. Since our subject is Proctor House we try to concentrate on that particular family, but you will find references to many of the others who helped to build the town of Brighton.
This house has some unusual features compared with others of the time. While others used horsehair to bind and strengthen the plaster, the Proctor family used the hair from their prize herd of purebred cattle.
In 2003, a five-bay Carriage Shed was added, where the original one once stood. An old well cover was replaced by an old-fashioned wishing well type of structure. There is now a paved parking lot and a paved laneway to the Barn. In the Gallery of Proctor House, the theme will be "The Joy of Collecting".
We have tried to develop our gardens to look as they would have during an earlier period. Enjoy the grounds and take advantage of The Lower Trent Conservation Authority's path to the creek. This path extends north through the woods and makes for a great afternoon walk.
The Proctor Family
From Josiah Proctor (1757-1850) to the present day, this family has been involved in a wide variety of lifestyles and professions. Farming was a more or less common thread until lately, but some were in the military, one was a prospector, another was a doctor, others were merchants and John E. was the owner of a shipping line. They were active in local politics and, like many other families, always gravitated back to the area. Perhaps you may see some similarities to your family history...
A Local Ghost Story?
Around 1900 there were many sightings of a fiery ball in the immediate vicinity of Proctor House. The Fire Ball has been written about extensively through the years, but never explained nor disproved conclusively. In three of the six common stories it is supposed to be the ghost of John Nix Jr., haunting John E. Proctor's residence as payback for some financial deals. In another, it was due to luminous methane phosphorus gas. Another legend says that it was caused by the bright lights of rum runners during the Prohibition Era. Or was it, as the sixth story goes, just some local children flying a kite with a lamp at night as a prank? We'll let you decide which story you want to believe, if any...