February, 2017:

Peterborough, Ontario – My Top 7 Picks

Peterborough, Ontario – My Top 7 Picks

Peterborough is a city on the Otonabee River in central Ontario, 125 kilometers (78 miles) northeast of Toronto. Peterborough’s nickname of “The Electric City” underscores the historical and present day importance of technology and manufacturing as an economic base of the city which has operations from large multi-national companies such as Seimans, Rolls Royce, and General Electric. Peterborough is known as the gateway to the Kawarthas, “cottage country”, a large recreational region of the province. In 1818, Adam Scott settled on the west shore of the Otonabee River and the following year he began construction of a sawmill and gristmill, establishing the area as Scott’s Plains. The mill was located at the foot of present-day King Street and was powered by water from Jackson Creek.

The year 1825 marked the arrival of 1,878 Irish immigrants from the city of Cork, a British Parliament experimental emigration plan to transport poor Irish families to Upper Canada. The scheme was managed by Peter Robinson, a politician in York (present-day Toronto). Scott’s Plains was renamed Peterborough in his honor. The Irish emigrated from the Emerald Isle to escape over-crowding, poverty, political unrest, religious tensions, disease and the potato famine. By 1851 almost half of the town of Peterborough claimed Irish ancestry. They cleared the land in the rolling hills of the Peterborough countryside.

In 1845, Sandford Fleming, inventor of Standard Time and designer of Canada’s first postage stamp, moved to the city to live with Dr. John Hutchison and his family, staying until 1847. Dr. John Hutchison was one of Peterborough’s first resident doctors.

359 Downie Street – Second Empire style, mansard roof, window hoods, 2 storey bay windows – Peterborough Book 1

232 Brock Street – Italianate, cornice brackets, two-storey bay windows, second floor balcony – Peterborough Book 2

413 Rubidge Street – Grover Nichols House – an outstanding example of Greek Revival architecture, modified in the Palladian manner, it was begun about 1847 by P.M. Grover, a well-to-do local merchant. The square pillars are a Classical Greek feature. The local Masonic Lodge held its meetings here from 1849 to 1853 and the Masons purchased this imposing house in 1950. – Peterborough Book 2

An elegant example of a residential terrace in the Second Empire style, Cox Terrace, 332-344 Rubidge Street, was constructed in 1884 during a time of prosperity and rapid urban growth in Peterborough. In this row of houses, inspired by British models, seven dwellings are skillfully unified behind one façade with three projecting pavilions. Mansard roofs, dormers, and oriel windows give life to the distinctive design. The terrace was built for Sir George Cox, one of the wealthiest and most influential Canadian businessmen of the period. – Peterborough Book 2

George Street corner – Second Empire style, window hoods on dormers, banding on top floor; cornice brackets, dentil molding, pilasters on 2nd floor; Romanesque style window voussoirs and keystones on ground level – Peterborough Book 2

The Peterborough Lift Lock was completed on July 9, 1904. It was the first lock to be built out of concrete and at the time was the largest structure built in the world with unreinforced concrete. It is a boat lift located on the Trent Canal in the city of Peterborough and is Lock 21 on the Trent-Severn Waterway. The dual lifts are the highest hydraulic boat lifts in the world, with a lift of 19.8 m (65 feet). – Peterborough Book 3

McDonnel Street – Peterborough Collegiate circa 1917 – Romanesque Revival architecture – Peterborough Book 3

Ayr, Ontario – My Top 5 Picks

Ayr, Ontario – My Best 5 Picks

Ayr is located south of Kitchener and west of Cambridge, and south of Highway 401.

In 1824, Abel Mudge built a saw mill and flour mill at the junction of Cedar Creek and the Nith River. This was the first of three settlements, Jedburgh in the east (Main Street), Nithvale in the west (Piper Street) and Mudge’s Mill in the center (Stanley/Northumberland Streets) in what is today the Village of Ayr.

Jedburgh began in 1832 when John Hall, a young immigrant from Jedburgh, Scotland, purchased a 75-acre parcel of land that included the area now flooded by Jedburgh Dam. By 1850 Hall had developed several industries, including a flour mill, sawmill and distillery with water power provided by the damming of Cedar Creek. At the same time a smaller settlement, Nithvale, was founded to the west of Mudge’s Mill where a small sawmill opened along the Nith River.

In 1840 when Robert Wyllie established a post office it was given the name “Ayr”, a name influenced by the large number of former Ayrshire, Scotland immigrants who were drawn to Canada by promises of inexpensive, fertile land.

In 1846–47 Daniel Manley’s mill was built, William Baker’s store was established and John Watson’s foundry constructed with Watson’s Dam its power reservoir. These three key businesses played large roles in Ayr’s early success as did the coming of the Credit Valley Railway in 1879. James Somerville began the first Ayr newspaper in 1854.

#190 and #192 – Triple-gable Gothic Revival style

40 McDonald Street – Second Empire style, mansard roof with dormers, yellow brick, cornice brackets, corner quoins

42 McDonald Street – yellow brick, verge board trim, corner quoins

102 Main Street – Italianate – hip roof, yellow brick, two-storey bay window, corner quoins, cornice brackets

105 Hall Street – Ayr Public School – 1890 – cupola, Romanesque style window arches, dentil molding

Guelph, Ontario – My Top 7 Picks

Guelph, Ontario – My Top 7 Picks

Guelph, known as “The Royal City, is located 100 kilometers (62 miles) west of downtown Toronto at the intersection of Highways 6 and 7. Guelph was founded on St. George’s Day, April 23, 1827, the feast day of the patron saint of England. The town was named to honor Britain’s royal family, the Hanoverians who were descended from the Guelfs, the ancestral family of George IV, the reigning British monarch.

John Galt designed the town to resemble a European city center with squares, broad main streets and narrow side streets, resulting in a variety of block sizes and shapes. The street plan was designed to resemble a lady’s fan with many of the streets forming triangles (the segments of the fan).

The first cable TV system began in Guelph with their first broadcast being the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. The Speed and Eramosa Rivers flow through the city.

Riverside Park is an 80-acre park built around a portion of the Speed River that runs through Guelph. The park opened in 1905.

The Ontario Agricultural College, the oldest part of the University of Guelph, began in 1873 as an associate agricultural college of the University of Toronto. The Government of Ontario purchased 550 acres of land from F. W. Stone to build the college. In 1964, the Ontario Agricultural College, Ontario Veterinary College and Macdonald Institute combined to become the University of Guelph and Wellington College.

Guelph City Hall, 1 Carden Street, was built in 1857 using locally quarried Lockport Dolomite, and was fashioned in the Renaissance Revival style. When the building opened in 1857, Guelph had 4,500 residents. Pediment, cornice brackets, corner quoins – Guelph Book 1

The building was constructed about 1867 of limestone from local quarries, and its structure is supported from the basement by 18-inch timbers. During the late nineteenth century, The Albion Hotel, along with twenty other hotels in the area, served the needs of farmers coming into town for the weekly market and the Provincial Fair in front of City Hall. – Guelph Book 1

Douglas Street – Crown Attorney’s Office – 1885 – corner quoins, banding, arched window hoods with keystones – Guelph Book 1

21 Stuart Street – Georgian style, belvedere, window voussoirs with keystones, portico – Guelph Book 1

143 Norfolk Street – Iron cresting above octagonal belvedere – Guelph Book 2

Red brick – Queen Anne style, three-storey tower, bay window on side, pediment above verandah – Guelph Book 2

S.S. No. 1 Guelph Township School – A.D. 1873 – where I attended Grades 1 to 6 from 1957-63 – Limestone, paired cornice brackets – Guelph Book 2


Burlington, Ontario – My Top 5 Picks

Burlington, Ontario – My Top 5 Picks

Burlington is located at the western end of Lake Ontario, lying between the north shore of the lake and the Niagara Escarpment, north of Hamilton.  Before pioneer settlement in the 19th century, the area was covered by old-growth forest and was home to various First Nations peoples.  In 1792, John Graves Simcoe, the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, named the western end of Lake Ontario “Burlington Bay” after the town of Bridlington in Yorkshire, England.  Land beside the bay was deeded to First Nations Captain Joseph Brant at the turn of the nineteenth century.  With the completion of the local survey after the War of 1812, the land was opened for settlement. Early farmers prospered because of the fertile soil and moderate temperatures.  Lumber from the surrounding forests was a thriving business.  In the latter half of the nineteenth century, local farmers switched to fruit and vegetable production.  The first peaches grown in Canada were cultivated in the Grindstone Creek watershed in the south-west part of the city.

Hamilton Harbour, the western end of Lake Ontario, is bounded on its western shore by a large sandbar. A canal bisecting the sandbar allows ships access to Hamilton Harbour. The Burlington Bay James N. Allan Skyway, part of the Queen Elizabeth Way, and the Canal Lift Bridge allow access over the canal.

The leading industrial sectors are food processing, packaging, electronics, motor vehicle/transportation, business services, chemical/pharmaceutical and environmental.

Burlington is home to the Royal Botanical Gardens, which has the world’s largest lilac collection.

2201 Lakeshore Road – Gothic Revival, corner quoins

Burlington Avenue – Queen Anne – verge board trim, decorative brickwork below cornice, half-moon window, fish scale pattern on tower

Paletta Mansion – In 1809, the British Crown, under King George III, granted Lot 8, Concession 4 South of Dundas Street to Laura Secord, who was later to distinguish herself as a heroine in the events of the Battle of Lundy’s Lane during the War of 1812. Laura Secord and her family did not settle in Nelson Township but conveyed the lot to settler John Beaupre in 1810. (Enjoy my novel that tells about Laura, Laura Secord Discovered.) Over the next one hundred years the property passed through about fifteen different families. In 1912, it was purchased by William Delos Flatt and Cyrus Albert Birge. The site was used as a park by local residents for leisure pursuits such as swimming, boating and fishing, while the rest of the property continued in use as a fruit farm. Following the death of the prominent Hamilton industrialist Cyrus Birge in 1929, his daughter Edythe MacKay used her inheritance to replace the old Zimmerman farmhouse on her Shore Acres Estate. It was built by local contractors and craftsmen with the finest imported and local materials. The mansion stands on a fourteen acre property on the Burlington waterfront. This three storey, 11,000 square-foot mansion has original hardwood floors throughout, seven working fireplaces, many original fixtures and decorations with a relaxed charm and intimacy.

1401 Ontario Street – Gothic Revival – cornice return on gables, full verandah on second floor

560 Brant Street – Neo-colonial – gambrel roof