Plaqued Houses and Buildings
Address:
334 Reynolds Street - James McDonald House
Summary:
James McDonald owned a planing mill and built Knox Presbyterian Church
Property Details:
James McDonald Jr. was born December 1, 1841 in Oakville to parents James McDonald & Catherine Randall. He, his parents and seven siblings grew up on Front St. In a house just east of present day Lakeside Park.

James married Mary Austin Lawrie sometime prior to 1871 and they had five children between 1871 and 1880. In 1868, James purchased Park Lots M & N located between Reynolds St. & Trafalgar Rd., south of Macdonald Rd. It is here that he built the family home at 323 Trafalgar Rd. James was a carpenter by trade, as was his father, and he also owned a planing mill located on the east bank of 16 Mile Creek which he purchased in 1887. The year prior, he had built Knox Presbyterian Church on Lakeshore Road, assisted by 18 carpenters who were paid a total of $4 each. This replaced the older church located on William Street which his father had built. James Jr. received the frame church on William as partial payment and remodelled it on the same site into three houses.

Things had been going well for James, but unfortunately, within two years of the purchase, his planing mill burnt down and he rebuilt it, only to see it go up in flames again in 1893. The mill was a total loss and was never rebuilt. The property was sold shortly afterwards. This may have prompted James to build the two other houses on Lot M for eventual sale. He sold one of them to William Galbraith in 1893 for $850 which became 331 Trafalgar Rd. However, 334 Reynolds was still in his possession, and James must have been experiencing a cash flow problem due to a serious economic downturn at the time, as he took out a mortgage for $1,200 from the York County Savings & Loan Corp. in 1895. On August 31, 1898, after having defaulted on the mortgage, he was served with a notice of sale. The York County Savings & Loan seized the property and held onto it until 1903 at which time it was sold to realtor James Hunter who subdivided the lot into three parcels and eventually sold them off.

Before selling 334 Reynolds, Hunter rented it out for a time, then sold to another agent Louis P. Snyder, who in turn sold to a Mrs. Henrietta Bundy in 1911.

James McDonald and his family relocated to Toronto's west end. It is not known why James decided to leave Oakville, but he likely found more opportunities in the city where he continued to ply his trade. He died in 1918 and is buried at Park Lawn Cemetery in Toronto. His wife Mary died in 1925 and is buried there as well.
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334 Reynolds Street334 Reynolds Street