ONCE HOME TO GENERALS AND GENTRY
OLD HOME LOVERS REJOICE
What makes us love old houses so much? Aside from the patina, stories, romance and increasing rarity of historic homes, the appeal comes from the details - the quality of materials and care of craftsmanship.
As the former home of gentry and a general, even back in the day, Millar House would have been a special build with high-end architectural and design features - statuesque and stately, and made well.
Older than Canada herself, Millar House was created in a time when the little things mattered. It's a collection of these small moments scattered throughout the house that combine to demonstrate her character and grace.
Considered a fine example of Pastoral Architectural Theory, the house was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1988. The following aspects of Millar House are covered under its heritage status - belvedere (windows, buttresses, roofline), east facade (doorway, windows, roofline, four chimneys), south elevation (windows, roofline) and stucco exterior wall treatment.
Constructed of triple red brick, the wedding-cake of a house is symmetrical with identical 6-over-6 paned, wooden windows on every level. The original windows on the south and east facades remain, but the external shutters are no longer present.
Originally the front door and approach to Millar House was oriented towards Silver Lake. Now the main entrance to the home faces Prospect Street, which is why the grand entrance with double doors and transom and main staircase is currently at the back of the house.
Frederick Millar was the son of Scottish immigrants who settled in America in 1804. Frederick was born in Lewiston, New York in 1810 and he moved to Canada in 1824. In 1835, he married Isabella (who was born in Scotland in 1812). They had five children (Alexander would become the mayor of Kitchener). Frederick and his brother John established businesses in Berlin, Ontario. Successful, they went on to create the town of New Dundee and operate shops and a flour mill. Frederick and Isabella moved to Port Dover and built what we now call Millar House in 1857. It was a grand pastoral retreat with acerage and some livestock - akin to what we would today call a hobby farm.
Brigadier General Daniel Robert Johnston and his wife Elizabeth Johnston "Johnsie" Evans Johnston purchased the house in 1908 for $700. They lived in Alabama and used the house as a summer home for their family. Johnsie was the granddaughter of the Governor of North Carolina - she was a philanthropist and was heralded for her role in establishing the Alabama Boys Industrial School for incarcerated youth.
Carl Frederick Kolbe purchased the house in 1939 as a family homestead. Prominent Port Doverites, the Kolbe Family ran a fishing business in the community dating back to the mid-1800s. Carl expanded the business beyond commercial fishing to poultry, frozen vegetables and fish-based animal feeds. He employed 250 workers at the height of its operation.
Since the Kolbes owned the residence, there have been five other families who have owned the home.