By Jim Stanzell

I prepared this article and it was published in Ottawa Branch News Jan/Feb 2008

Joseph Coombs came to Upper Canada as a Corporal with the 15th Company of Sappers and Miners in 1827 to build the Rideau Canal. He was born in Rossmongue, Co. Wexford, Ireland about 1788. His trade was a Wheeler and he was promoted to Sergeant 1 Dec 1830. Not much is known of his activities during construction but was probably involved with administrative duties. It is known that he was a lay preacher in the Methodist Church built by John Burrows (Honey) on Lot 22, Rideau St.. This church was destroyed by fire and a stone Church was built in 1829 near Sparks and Elgin.

On completion of the Canal about 70 S&M’s were discharged in Canada,24 Dec 1831 and Joseph returned to England, (with 25 others), where he was sick in Hospital. He was discharged 9 Mar 1832 and returned to Canada with his family.[ His family appears to have been with him 1827 – 1832. I believe he built a house in Bytown, 351 Rideau St]

His wife, Ann Robinson, was born in Kibrush, Co. Wexford, Ireland about 1798, and their children are listed below, with the info known about them, are;

1. Mary Ann. bc 1819, married John Couch [In Jim Neelin’s Pub 79-1, stone #50. “Old Methodist Burying Ground, Perth, Ont.”Mary Ann w/o John Couch, b 16 Jul 1828,

d 8 Aug186(7).] She is mentioned in Joseph’s will as a daughter and was baptised 22 May 1831 in Methodist Church, Hull, LC

2. Samuel. Nil info.

3. John Thomas. b. 28 May 1819, Devonport Eng.

4. Mary Frances. b. 28 May 1819, Devonport Eng. d 12 July 1900, Ottawa.[#8299]

5. Charlotte. b. Sept 1820, Devonport Eng.

6. John Shine. b. 2 Feb 1821, Stoke, Plymouth, Eng. A druggist by trade. Married Ann Miller McLean( ) in Perth, ON, 24 Oct 1849. He died 10 June 1889 in Perth, ON. [Also in Jim Neelin’s 79-1,”Directory for Perth” ( Ref. 12, about 1858) on first page John Coombs listed as a chemist and druggist] His family is listed in 1881 Census for Perth, Lanark South

7. Faith. b. Aug 1822, Devonport Eng.

8. James. b.20 Jul 1823, Devonport Eng. He was a Tollgate keeper near present day Greens Creek, on Montreal Road. He also farmed in that area as he owned two lots of farmland. [Gloucester Twp. con.1, lot 13 OF (Ottawa Front) and Con. 2, Lot 15 OF; Also refer to Bob Serre’s “Gloucester Quarry’s” pg 25] His family is listed in 1881 Census Gloucester Twp, Russell County.

He married Mary Ann Olmstead (1825 – 15 Feb.1899).[#7792]. He died 29 Apr 1904 in Ottawa and is buried in Beechwood Cem.[#9778]

9. Harriett. b. Mar 1826, Devonport, Eng.

10. Jane. b. 16 Nov.1828, Kent, England.[#10764]. Lived 171 Brood St. Ottawa. d 17 Jan 1907, age 81, a Widow. Married William Stockdale, b Yorkshire, d. 17 Sept 1902 [#9138]76y, 7m, 9d.

11. Sarah. b.1831, Ottawa, ON.

12. Catherine. b. 21 Feb 1833, Ottawa, d. 5 Jun 1917, age 84 in Ottawa, buried Beechwood. [16048]. She lived in Sault Ste. Marie when she died. Parents surname only, Coombs. She married William Henry Tracy, b Mugherafelt, Co. Derry, Ire, 5 May 1832 – 16 Jan 1893, buried Beechwood.[#5801] Family is in 1881 Census, St. George Ward, Ottawa

13. Joseph. bc 1835, in Gloucester, On. He was a druggist by trade. Married Mary Jane MacGillivary ( ) 21 Jun 1865 in Smiths Falls, ON. He died 29 Sep. 1884. his family is in 1881 Census Smiths Falls, Lanark South

14. Thomas. bc 1839, Metcalfe, Osgoode Twp. d 12 Apr 1872 [Ottawa Branch Library Pub. V161 #456

Joseph was a Jailer in Bytown and was involved in many other activities. He died 17 May 1856.He was initially buried in Sandy Hill Cem and re interred in Beechwood 3 May 1877.[Beechwood Register # 1138] His wife Ann died while living with her daughter, Catherine Tracy on Stewart St. Ottawa, on 27 Dec 1875. [#680]

There are a few more references to Joseph Coombs which I quickly gathered and there are no doubt more. The following two (of 55 hits) on

1.From John Gourley’s “History of the Ottawa Valley” pg 103 “Mr. Joseph Coombs, having given up drugs in Osgoode, came to be jailer” Context is who lived where and their neighbours.

2. From a history of “Royal Sappers and Miners” pg 239. A comment by the Captain of 4th Company of S&M on his leaving the Army in Oct 1815. “Corporal Joseph Coombs had conducted himself extremely well, and was both intelligent and active in the different services in which he had been employed” The article also mentions where Cpl. Joseph had served.

Also there are references to Joseph in Carleton County Copy Books which are located at Ottawa City Archives and I have not yet searched them.

I have added info/data which I have found to date and surnames in bold and underlined places of interest which may be new. Numbers in square brackets[#xxx] are burial register number from Beechwood Cemetery microfilms located in Ottawa City Archives Ottawa Branch, Ont. Genealogical Society’s Library is at Ottawa City Archives

There are a number of children about which I have not been able to determine any info/data

Contact Info:  Jim Stanzell,  
and Bernice Lawrence,