abandoned woodhill heritage house

Bayview Manor | Abandoned Country Heritage Home Built in 1833

Bayview Manor | Abandoned Country Heritage Home Built in 1833

Located in Southern Ontario this now abandoned country heritage home is the oldest farmhouse in its city, built in — 1833.  Bayview Manor is the area’s jewel of history, it sits within a gorgeous 75-acre setting that highlights this special farmhouse.

But Bayview Manor is on the endangered list. The House was submitted by the local Historical Society for inclusion to Heritage Canada Foundation’s List of Top 10 Endangered Places.

The man who built this house situated it perfectly so that he could stand at the front door to see stunning views of rolling hills cascading down to the gleaming blue waters of the Bay.

City staff knows that this is not an ordinary farmhouse. Staff has recommended to city council that the manor be designated in accordance to the Ontario Heritage Act, which lists three measures for cultural heritage value.

  • One, there must be an historical association to the property
  • Two, the location of Bayview Manor provides contextual value.
  • Three, Bayview Manor illustrates design value.

The name of the man who built this home is often found in our student history books. Originally from Scotland, he was a wealthy agriculturalist and politician, was sent from Scotland to Upper Canada to investigate agriculture and emigration possibilities. Very impressed, the man brought his wife and eight sons to the city in 1833, where he settled into his new home named after his original home in Scotland.

The man left his mark in so many places. Politics welcomed his integrity, intelligence and insights. He was appointed member of the Legislative Council of Upper Canada. Most significantly, he prepared resolutions for the 1859 convention that led to the constitutional changes eventually leading to Confederation.
The builder was first to import pure-bred, short-horned cattle. He advocated for a central agricultural society, the forerunner to the Canadian National Exhibition, the largest agricultural fair in the world. He established a chair of agriculture at Toronto University, later the beginning of Guelph’s veterinary school in 1863.

He proposed a provincial agricultural organization which later became the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. He paved the way for penitentiary reforms. Clearly diversified, he and a friend, bought more than 7,000 acres of land to establish and design the village of Fergus. Even so, his heart was in this city as he always maintained his principal residence of Bayview Manor.

He built a lovely home of local stone, covered with stucco. Its most recent owner, who has since passed away, honoured his home with period antiques and minimal changes since its original construction in 1833.

Some of Bayview Manors elements include original pine-plank flooring, two iron fireplaces, a servants’ bell system, original trim details, fanlight transom, box shutters, panelled doors and moldings.

Bayview manor has recently been sold. Concerns are that it may be demolished. The manor is secluded so its privacy has kept the locals unaware of its beauty and significance.
What can be done? Council members will consider their staff recommendations regarding the historical cultural value. City council was exceptionally astute when it made a decision to protect the manor against premature demolition by stating its intention to designate according to the Ontario Heritage Act.
A number of appeals against this designation have been tabled and are in the process of being reviewed.

The designation of Bayview Manor is urgent for the city. The conservation of the farmhouse and its landscape are critical as superb examples of life in 1833.
Even though the manor is a rural retreat, the Ontario Heritage Act’s criterion recognizes its value. These same measures could also support the land as a national historic site. A designation will ensure this legacy will endure.


Here are some interesting things captured with my cell phone while exploring.  The little girl who wrote the letter in 1987 is now a grown woman living in BC but sadly she has not yet responded to my message letting her know that I found her letter.  Also if interest was the natural well in the basement and the servant bells located in the main hallway, there were cords running all over the house to the different rooms.