Paris is known as the Cobblestone Capital of Canada. Stones were pulled from the riverbed, after years of tumbling smooth and found in farmer’s fields. Once cleaned and dried they were layered like a birthday cake with cement icing holding it all together. In order to ensure uniformity, labourers measured fieldstones for shape and size by passing them through a ring. If you look closely enough when visiting some of the buildings, you will notice that the stones are at different angles. Every 2-3 rows reveal a new farmer and the rocks they laid, thus the difference in angle. Except for just three, all cobblestone buildings known to exist in Canada are in the County of Brant.
Built in the mid-1800s, today there are 12 homes and 2 cobblestone churches left. The structures were constructed by Levi Boughton, who was born May 26, 1805 in New York State, he eventually became a mason and married Lydia Mann on September 2, 1827. They first settled in Brantford and then onto Paris and where they settled with their 16 children. At the time the area was booming and there a lot of work for a skilled mason like Boughton.
Mr. Boughton’s cobblestone style was not new, it had been introduced to Britain nearly 2,000 years ago, by Roman builders. Cobblestone construction survived in England its believed that a masons brought it from there to New York State, where several hundred cobblestone houses still stand and are highly celebrated.
The design on these buildings is intricate and it is quite costly to build because of the time needed to construct. It took around 14,000 stones for one traditional home. St. James Anglican Church, was the first cobblestone building in Paris and is the oldest standing church in the town. The Paris Plains Church, north of the town was built by a group of settlers from stones gathered from the fields of their own farms.
Some notable cobblestone structures are Hamilton Place, on Grand River North, the Montieth House, on Broadway, and Levi Boughton’s own original home on the corner of Queen and Ball Streets, which have fallen into good hands and are in an excellent state of preservation.
These beautiful structures still stand firm, as a memorial to fine craftsmanship and a reminder of the early cultural development of the community.