Tag Archives: Heintzman House

Shouldice Hospital Estate

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Over that past 70 years the Shouldice Hospital in Thornhill has performed over 400,000 hernia operations. The hospital is located in a beautiful estate setting, for now. The property is currently the site of a five-tower development proposal that will retain the historic buildings but allow the countryside around them to be lost.

The history of the site goes back to the earliest days of Thornhill and is located on part of lots 30 and 31 in the first concession east of Yonge Street. The full 190 acre lot was first granted to Thompson Maxwell in 1803 but it appears he failed to complete his settlement requirements and forfeited the land grant. Stillwell Wilson was able to secure the patent on the property in 1808. In the 1790’s William Berczy had built John Street through the property from Yonge Street to gain access to his settlement of German Mills. The County Atlas image below shows the area in 1877 and John Street is coloured brown. The site of the Shouldice Hospital has been outlined in green. Lot 32 to the north is the site of Heintzman House which we featured last week.

The east half of the property was bought by Allan McNab in 1817 so that he could build the grist mill that is shown on the County Atlas as “G.M.”. McNab is best known for building Dundurn Castle in Hamilton. The grist mill was completed in 1820 and McNab operated it until 1844 but the town he envisioned never developed around it. He decided to sell the property to John Brunskill in 1844 and it was renamed Pomona Mills. This is now commemorated by Pomona Mills Park. Matthew Dean bought 91 acres on the east end of the lot, north of John Street and it served as a family farm until 1937 when it was bought by Clement George McCullagh who wanted to use the property to build a country estate. The picture below shows the oval driveway and stone gates that were constructed for the estate.

Clement made his money in the press and in mining. He started his career selling subscriptions to The Toronto Globe newspaper and then branched into mining operations. In 1936 he bought The Toronto Globe and the Mail & Empire and merged the two papers into the Globe and Mail. He was also a part owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs. During the Great Depression he advocated for an all-party federal government to run the country based on sound business principles. The picture below shows the front of the estate mansion that he had built for himself, his wife Phyllis C. Laidlaw and their three children Robert, George and Ann.

The two and a half story house featured seven bays and which looked out over formal gardens and orchards. It was built by Donald MacKenzie Waters who had designed several other prominent buildings in Toronto including Maple Leaf Gardens. Several fruit trees are still found in front of the house.

Formal gardens and tennis courts surrounded the house and a greenhouse was also built although it has been removed in anticipation of the new development.

The house was built into the side of a hill so that the rear showed off the basement. Aluminum siding has been added which imitates the original wooden clapboard construction.

The rear of the house looked out over the pond which is held in place by a stone retaining wall dated 1937. The pond is now obscured by trees in the summer months.

A painted turtle was sunning itself on the overflow to the pond at the time of my visit. These are the most common native turtles in North America and can be found from Canada to Mexico. They continue to grow until they reach sexual maturity and have been known to live for over 50 years in the wild.

McCullagh was a founding member of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario and was instrumental in the restoration of Fort York. It is therefore fitting that his estate should be preserved. He was fond of horses and the property still features a “U” shaped stable that sits adjacent to Bayview Avenue. It is located in a zone which has been reserved for future expansion of the roadway and may need to be relocated at some time in the future to avoid being demolished.

A gatehouse is located on the north end of the stables and is also on the road allowance for an expanded Bayview Avenue.

In 1953 the property was sold to Dr. Edward Earl Shouldice who perfected an operation to repair hernias during the Second World War. He converted the main estate residence into a private hospital and later added another wing to accommodate more patients. The other estate building that remains on the property is the gardener’s cottage. It also sits beside Bayview Avenue but like the other buildings featured here is protected by an heritage designation.

The artists concept below shows the new development with the Shouldice Hospital in the background.

The property is under a new development proposal but the historic buildings are to be retained among the new towers. A formal trail network is expected to connect to Ponoma Mills Park to the west of the property.

Related posts: Heintzman House, Dundurn Castle, Fort York

Google maps link: Shouldice Hospital

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Heintzman House

July 3, 2022

Heintzman and Company was founded in 1866 to produce pianos in a facility located in The Junction area of Toronto. It was started by Theodore Heintzman who was a German immigrant while his nephew started a rival company called Gerhard Heintzman Piano Company. When Theodore died in 1899 his son George took over running the business. The piano manufacturing business was moved to Hanover, Ontario in 1962. The company changed its name to Heintzman Limited in 1978 and then was sold to Sklar Peppler in 1981. This ownership only lasted until 1987 when it was sold to The Music Stand Company of Ontario who started to apply the name Heintzman to various pianos manufactured in the United States. The Heintzman name is still used by a Chinese and Canadian company called Heintzman Distributors and they supplied the grand piano that was used in the opening ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. The archive photo below shows the Heintzman and Company piano factory when it was located in The Junction area in the west part of Toronto near Keele and Dundas Street.

Lot 32 in Markham township fronted onto Yonge Street and covered the 190 acres between there and today’s Bayview Avenue. It was originally allocated to Anthony Hollingshead in 1798. Anthony had been a United Empire Loyalist having served in the American Revolutionary War as an officer. One of the conditions of earning the patent, or deed, for a property was the construction of a home that was a minimum of 16 feet by 20 feet in size. Hollingshead built a small story and a half home of adobe, or mudbrick and received the patent in 1802. This home was recorded as the first adobe home built in Upper Canada. The map below is from the 1877 county atlas and shows the property in the hands of the Lemon family and the house is circled in green.

The property changed hands many times and the house has had several additions and renovations over the past 200 years. Anthony Hollingshead died in 1817 and the property was sold to George Crookshank. Anthony’s granddaughter, Elizabeth Soules, was married to Samuel Lount who was one of two people executed following the failed Rebellion of 1837. Samuel Lount is buried in The Necropolis in Toronto.

George Crookshank was a close friend of Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe and was a wealthy businessman and member of the early government of Upper Canada. During the War of 1812 he was in charge of supplies to Fort York and after the war he bought several properties in the area. He married Susan Lambert in 1821 and then built a 13-room mansion on the site of Holligshead’s farmhouse. It was at this time that the property began to be called Sunnyside Farm.

In 1881 the farm was sold to John Francis Newtonbrook. His family farmed the land for almost 50 years including the period that their son Samuel owned Sunnyside Manor.

Charles and Marion Heintzman, owners of the piano company, bought the house in 1930. They made extensive renovations to it including adding a conservatory. A small greenhouse was added to the north end of the building.

The house was the scene of many social gatherings over the years that the Heintzmans owned it. They continued to operate it as a farm where they raised prized Jersey cattle. When Charles died in 1959 the property was sold to developers who started to build the homes that enclose the house on every side. The Town of Markham was persuaded by local residents to preserve the manor and it was renamed Heintzman House in honour of the last private family that owned it.

A unique planter stands on the front lawn and pays tribute to the piano manufacturers who completed the last set of expansions and renovations on the home.

The fields surrounding Heintzman House may have been developed for housing but the home is now used as an event venue.

Related stories: West Toronto Railpath, Rebellion of 1837, The Necropolis, Fort York

Google Maps Link: Heintzman House

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