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Description found in Archives

Hallen family fonds [multiple media]. 


1646-[199-], predominant 1800-1910

Place of creation

No place, unknown, or undetermined

1.075 m of textual records.
4 maps.
70 photographs.
19 sketchbooks.
4 reproductions.
2 architectural drawings.
53 drawings.
63 watercolours.
2 paintings.
27 prints.
1 volume of prints.

Scope and content

Fonds comprises the papers of the family of Rev. George and Sarah (Williams) Hallen and their descendants, particularly the Drinkwater line of descent. These materials document the experiences of a middle-class English family driven to emigrate in 1835 due to financial difficulties and the availability of greater economic opportunities in Canada. Letters, diaries, notebooks and other documents show the family's living situation in Worcestershire before emigration, and contain descriptions of the voyage to New York, the sojourn in New York State, and the challenges of adapting to life in Upper Canada (later known as Canada West, then Ontario). Living conditions in Upper Canada are vividly depicted, including the ministry work of Rev. Hallen, the physical environment, homesteading practices, and meetings with neighbours, both European and Aboriginal. Letters and diaries of Sarah, Mary, and Eleanora Hallen dating to the 1830s and early 1840s provide a view of the emigrant experience from the unique viewpoints of children and young adults. Details of their upbringing and education are also revealed in the diaries and notebooks, as well as in the artwork and printed matter found in this fonds. The Hallens' continuing ties to their homeland are reflected in the considerable amount of correspondence with friends and relatives in England. Later documents depict the lives of the Hallen siblings as adults, and continue across the generations to the present day. By the late nineteenth century, the Orillia area was much less rustic than at the time of the family's arrival, and the papers from the period reflect a more affluent lifestyle with less physical hardship, isolation, or need for subsistence-level activities. Papers from this time also include correspondence (mainly courtship letters), of Amelia Houghton and Thomas Hunton, who were only indirectly related to the Hallen family (see biographical sketch). The modern-day materials reflect the family's ongoing interest in genealogy and local history. Also found in this fonds are photographs of various members of the Hallen and Drinkwater families in professional studio portraits and amateur shots of outdoor activities; many of the subjects are unidentified. Some photographs also show the Drinkwater family home, "Northbrook", at different times. There are a few photographic copies of artworks by Mary (Hallen) Gilmour, and snapshots of other paintings and locations taken as part of the genealogical research conducted by various family members. A number of architectural drawings and maps are also included in this fonds. There are two drawings of French forts (Ste. Marie among the Hurons, and Ste. Marie II, as they are now known), drafted by George Hallen in 1852 and 1843 respectively. Other items consist of a survey map of a plot of land in Simcoe County dating to 1876, an undated map of the Ferguson Highway from North Bay to Cochrane, and a map of Manitoba published in 1903. The fonds also includes artwork by, primarily, three of the Reverend George Hallen's daughters: Sarah, Mary and Eleanora. The artwork is comprised of watercolour paintings and sketches of landscapes, botanical and other studies, architecture and genre scenes. There are also numerous pencil drawings of similar subjects, as well as some protraits. Included with the artwork is a series of sketchbooks created by the Hallen family children. These drawing books contain pencil sketches that appear to be copies of other finished drawings, copied as a learning tool to acquire drawing skills. As the drawings frequently duplicate others in several of the sketchbooks, it is an interesting example of drawing methods and shows the progression of technical skill. Many of the individual drawings in the collection also reflect this progressive method.
Many of the documents in this fonds include annotations made (usually in ballpoint pen) by Joyce Kirkland during her genealogical research in the 1960s. Kirkland was a descendant of Elizabeth (Williams) Chellingworth, sister of Sarah Hallen. The information contained in her annotations is not always accurate.

Textual records
18: Restricted
The entire fonds has been digitized and
is available for consultation and copying in that format. The originals have been withdrawn from circulation pursuant to preservaton copying policy.
Graphic (photo)
90: Open
The entire fonds has been digitized and
is available for consultation and copying in that format. The originals have been withdrawn from circulation pursuant to preservaton copying policy.
Cartographic material
90: Open
The entire fonds has been digitized and
is available for consultation and copying in that format. The originals have been withdrawn from circulation pursuant to preservaton copying policy.
Graphic (art)
90: Open
The entire fonds has been digitized and
is available for consultation and copying in that format. The originals have been withdrawn from circulation pursuant to preservaton copying policy.
Architectural: technical drawings
90: Open
The entire fonds has been digitized and
is available for consultation and copying in that format. The originals have been withdrawn from circulation pursuant to preservaton copying policy.
Archival reference no.

Biography / Administrative history

Rev. George Hallen was born in 1794, son of George Hallen, Esq., Barrister of Kidderminister, England. He studied divinity at Trinity College, Oxford where he was influenced by the Oxford Movement: he would remain a high churchman throughout his life. In 1817, he was ordained as a deacon of the Church of England and appointed as curate in the Parish of Salwarp, Worcester County and in 1818, he was ordained as priest. In 1817, he married Sarah Williams (1794-1864), daughter of John and Mary Williams of Perry, Worcestershire. The couple eventually had 11 children: Sarah (1818-1888), Mary (1819-1905), George (1821-?) Eleanora (1823-1846), Edgar (1824- ca.1921), Preston (1826-1912), Skeeler Williams (1827-?) , Richard (ca. 1830-?), Agnes (1831-ca. 1900), Edith (1832-1835) and Grace (1834-1838). The youngest two died as small children, and Eleanora died of an unidentified illness at the age of 23. In 1835, George Hallen and his family moved to Upper Canada in order to seek better economic circumstances. After a brief sojourn in New York State, they settled in Medonte Township, near present-day Orillia, where they farmed a homestead which they called Rushock, after their home in England. In addition to farming activities, George Hallen was, in his own words, "parish priest and missionary" to the surrounding community. He also helped to found St. George's Church in Fairvalley.

Under the auspices of John Strachan and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, George Hallen was appointed Chaplain at the military establishment at Penetanguishene in 1840. His sons George Jr. and Edgar remained at Rushock to tend the farm. On the establishment of the Provincial Reformatory at Penetanguishene, in 1859, he was appointed its Chaplain. He was minister of the church at Penetanguishene, St.-James-on-the-Line, from 1840 until his retirement in 1876. A man of great intellectual curiosity, Hallen observed and documented his experiences and surroundings extensively, a tendency which he passed on to his children. He was noted for his devotion to his family, friends, and parishioners, as well as to his faith. George Hallen died in 1882, a few years after moving to Toronto.

The Hallen family retained close ties to England for many years. George and Sarah Hallen, and several of their children returned to England for visits. Skeeler Williams Hallen settled in England as an adult, while his brother Preston stayed for several years. Sarah Hallen Jr. (1818-1888), eldest daughter of Rev. George and Sarah Hallen, married John Humphrey Sumner (J.H.S.) Drinkwater ([181-]- ca. 1881) in 1840 and built a house near Orillia which they called Northbrook. J.H.S. Drinkwater's siblings included sisters Elizabeth Paine (née Drinkwater) and Anna Ribeira Drinkwater. The eldest of J.H.S. Drinkwater's children was Richard John Sumner (R.J.S.) Drinkwater (1841-ca.1901). Both father and son served for many years in the militia. Richard John Sumner also operated a lumber business, Drinkwater Bros., with his brother Thomas. Richard John Sumner Drinkwater married Kate Knight in 1882. Their children were John Sumner Drinkwater Jr. (1885-1980) and Mary (Drinkwater) Bohme (1887-1967).

While many of the Hallen siblings, notably Eleanora, pursued artistic interests, Mary Hallen was the most serious artist. A talented amateur, she exhibited at venues such as the Ontario Provincial Exhibition (1868) and Toronto Industrial Exhibition (1879), and was awarded prizes for her landscape paintings. Mary Hallen married Dr. W.R. Gilmour in 1875 and, though they parted a year later, she continued to use her married name, Mary Gilmour.

The third child, George Hallen Jr., lived for many years in Orillia, and made his living as an organist and music teacher. He married Arabella St. John in 1850. The couple later moved to Hamilton and eventually retired to Oakville.

Edgar and Richard Hallen remained bachelors and lived at their house in Orillia, "The Croft", with their sister Mary. Preston Hallen married late in life (1883) as did his sister Agnes, who married Rev. Edmund H. Cole of Whitby, Ontario in 1874. Skeeler Williams married Elizabeth Felton in 1864.

Thomas Hunton and Amelia Houghton (whose papers are included in the Hallen Family fonds) were connected to the Hallens only indirectly, through the marriage of descendants of the two families. Amelia resided in Brockville and Thomas in Bytown (now Ottawa). Both devout Methodists, they courted for several years before marrying in 1844. They settled in Bytown, where they lived for many years.

Additional information

Acquired from David Bohme and the estate of Phyllis Norah Bastedo in 2003.

Custodial history
The Hallen fonds was preserved by descendants of John Sumner Drinkwater (Jr.) and Mary (Drinkwater) Bohme who were both great-grandchildren of Rev. George Hallen and Sarah (Williams) Hallen.

Subject heading

1. Hallen family.
2. Hallen (Famille)
3. Hallen family
4. Immigrants Canada
5. Social life and customs Ontario
6. Moeurs et coutumes Canada


Related control no.