Nodwell House – Homestead Farm

August 4, 2016

William Nodwell came to Canada from Ireland in 1838 and settled on Lot 24, concession 8 in Erin Township.  Nazareth Hill hadn’t yet given his name to the town that grew around the farm.  At the time of the county atlas in 1877 the mill ponds hadn’t been created on the Gooderham and Worts property across the street.

Nodwell map

His first log home burned down within a year.  Nodwell then sold the east half of the lot to Angus McMurchy and constructed another log house and barns.  In 1868 the brick house shown in this pictorial was built.  The cover view shows the front of the now abandoned house with it’s second story oriel window.  This is the view of the side of the house as you approach from the driveway.


William Nodwell died in 1845 leaving the farm to his two sons.  Robert bought out Thomas by trading him another farm for his half of the homestead.  A frame barn (now demolished) and shed were added in 1857.  This is the side entrance to the house and possibly the most frequently used of the three.


In the 1890’s the Nodwells were known for raising short-horn cattle.  The family was active in St. Andrews Presbyterian Church which was located on the corner of their property.  The picture below shows the side porch of the house.


In 1895 the house at the corner of the lane was added for use by family members.  In 1926 Mungo Nodwell took over running the farm which was well known for the  seed potatoes he grew.  They also kept a herd of dairy cattle and delivered milk in town with horse and wagon.  This view shows the back corner of the house and the side door which has been bricked closed.


Ross R. Mackay public school is built on land donated by Mungo Nodwell in 1960 from the side of his dairy pasture.  For the next decade an electric fence would separate the cows from the school children.  The east side, or rear of the house, has had a back porch removed.  This room would have served as a place for the removal of dirty shoes and work clothes before entering the house.  Some would call this a mud room.


In 2004 Mungo’s daughter Nina sold the farm and moved to Markdale.  Access to all windows has been closed off with bricks since then.  This shot shows the basement window.


The great room in the house had a plank table that could seat 12 and the family was known for it’s hospitality.  This is the front view of the house facing toward the west and the main street of Hillsburgh.


As I was admiring the oriel window a blue jay arrived to get to the nest that hides behind the front facing.


On the east side of the laneway stands the driving shed.  The Nodwell’s kept many of their farming implements in there when the farm was active.


A look up into the ceiling of the driving shed.


All of the tools were removed from the driving shed except for this level.


The back of the driving shed.


Today there is a proposal to develop Homestead Farm into a subdivision.  Fortunately it looks like the old Nodwell house will be preserved.  More on the history of Hillsburgh can be found in this previous post.

Google Maps link: Hillsburgh

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19 thoughts on “Nodwell House – Homestead Farm

  1. Craig Nodwell

    This is great.
    As a decedent of William Nodwell’s from his first marriage, finding that someone took the time to record this is fantastic.
    Just one note, the Nodwell’s arrived in Canada from Ireland. I have their landing records in digital format if anyone is interested.

    1. hikingthegta Post author

      Thanks for your comment Craig. I actually knew that they were originally from Londonderry, Anaghmore County in Ireland. Why I had Scotland in there is a mystery to me. I went to Ross R. MacKay school with Nodwells in 1968-1973 but can’t remember their names.

      1. Craig Nodwell

        What a small world we live in.
        I’ve been enjoying your posts for some time now, thank you for all you do.
        I have a number of relatives asking where on the map this is located. Can you assist with that, I think a road trip is in the works 🙂

      2. hikingthegta Post author

        The Google Maps link at the end of the article is working now. That’s so cool if you guys can connect with a bit of family history!

    2. Colleen Trowbridge

      HI Craig
      I don’t know if this will reach you or not because of the posting date of 2016 and it is now 2019. I am a descendant of Mary Ann Nodwell who was married to Thomas McCombe. I would love to have a copy of the family’s landing records if this is still available. I wouid like to thank you in advance if you are able to provide this information. It would certainly be a wonderful addition to my family tree. I can assure you that a reply will be greatly appreciated. Again thank you. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Till then take care.

      Kindest regards


      1. Craig Nodwell

        Hi Colleen you can send me an email at and I will send you what I have.
        I also added a note to Rick Nodwell’s comment below explaining some detail of my ancestor and how my branch of the family deviates from the Nodwell’s here in Ontario, although one common ancestor two distinct branches.

    3. Patricia Wilson

      My mother’s grandfather was Robert Morgan Nodwell, a great-grandchild of William Nodwell. Would love any landing records. My Mom remembered the Ross McKay school fondly. She danced the Highland Fling.

      1. Craig Nodwell

        Just seeing this now Rick, will send soon.
        Note: William Nodwell was married twice in Ireland prior to coming to Canada, his first wife her name was Mary Dawson passed away young they had 2 sons Samuel who remained in Ireland and William . I am a decedent of that first marriage, his son William from that marriage arrived in Canada some 6 years prior to his father and his new wife. William’s branch (my branch) of the family remained in New Brunswick until the 1960’s(many still remain in N.B.), while William the father and his second wife and family continued on to Ontario. There’s record of them wintering in Quebec City and losing a small herd (6) head of cattle along the way. Tracking this was not easy as you can imagine.

  2. Trudy (Nodwell) Schwass

    My grandfather was Samuel Nodwell and he married Sarah Jane E. Langford. They lived in Owen Sound (Brookholm) before moving to Port Elgin, Do you know Nina’s last name if she was married? Loved reading this article.

    1. Hayley

      I grew up in the Nodwell house in Port Elgin. I am actually good friends with a Nodwell, a daughter of Barry Nodwell. If you know anymore of the family history, in particular the history of the house, I would love to know about it.

  3. David Nodwell

    We just interred my father, Robert Gordon Nodwell at huxley cemetery today and found out about this house from the guy at the cemetery. Hope to get up there tomorrow to see if we can find it. I am one of the many Nodwells who have Robert as his first name!

  4. Gary Gooderham

    I grew up in Hillsburgh knew the Buckles family went to school with the girls. I delivered their newspaper and I even cut the grass helped bring in hay. Have lots of memories of that farm. Seen Mary and Dick at their farm in Cochrane quite a few years back Dick didn’t know me but Mary did it was about 1998 or thereabouts. I used to live in big stone house across from the school. My name is Gary Gooderham


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