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Visit historic homes in Hamilton Township

SUBMITTED PHOTO 
Built by miller-turned-farmer John Baptist sometime about 1855, the Baptist-Crossen house is a quaint stone gem that nestles into its surroundings (complete with a panoramic view of the Oak Ridges Moraine).

SUBMITTED PHOTO Built by miller-turned-farmer John Baptist sometime about 1855, the Baptist-Crossen house is a quaint stone gem that nestles into its surroundings (complete with a panoramic view of the Oak Ridges Moraine).

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — Here’s your chance to take peek inside four of Hamilton Township’s best old houses.
And while you’re at it, you just might learn something about local heritage, get acquainted with the charm of vintage homes and uncover some stories about the people who settled here in the 19th century.

That’s the idea behind a tour of heritage homes scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 28, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., sponsored by the Hamilton Township Heritage Committee.
As part of its mandate to foster awareness of local history, the committee hosts at least one event every year. And as Canada150 celebrations wind down for the year, it has organized this event as a bus tour, which will offer a guided sojourn through the countryside, beginning and ending at the Cold Springs Memorial Hall. Along the way, the bus will stop at four vintage houses, each lovingly maintained and restored. There, homeowners will open their doors, offering a rare glimpse into some very interesting dwellings.

Two of the houses are stone. One is brick. The fourth is a faithful reconstruction of a home removed from its original site. None of them are mansions, but then again, these aren’t humble settler’s cabins either. Each began its life as a farmhouse—a better-than-average farmhouse—and in its own way, says something about the aspirations, taste and means of the families who built them. 

Today, each of them is a family home prized for their old-style charm and historical connections.

In a nutshell, the tour will present:

  • Fircliff stands overlooking Rice Lake at Gore’s Landing. It was built sometime about 1875, although its old-fashioned Georgian lines suggest it is older. Current owners Cathie and Les Houston are avid antiques collectors, and the house is furnished with some remarkable antiques. Also on site is a 1937 cottage and an 1880s carriage house, both of which have been restored
  • The Henderson House is a handsome stone house built about 1861. This past year, new owners Bruce and Cindy Buttar gave it the enthusiast’s touch with a thorough renovation that included a new kitchen and bathrooms, as well as updated mechanical and aesthetic improvements. Today, it’s a real showplace and a shining example of how a farmhouse can be upgraded without losing its historical appeal.
  • The Joynt Cottage near Cold Springs originally stood on the site of the Canadian Tire store in Cobourg. In 2000, it was dismantled and salvaged, board by board, for reconstruction on a new rural location. Historical authenticity guided owners Diana and John Joynt, and the results are stunning. Indeed, this is a superb example of the Regency style of architecture with few rivals in the entire province. A second heritage house was re-erected on the property, where it functions as a garage.
  • The Baptist-Crossen House has one of the most beautiful settings in all of Hamilton Township. Perched at the height of the Oak Ridges Moraine, it offers a panoramic view to the south — you can even see Lake Ontario. Built by miller-turned-farmer John Baptist sometime about 1855, it is a quaint stone gem that nestles into its surroundings. Locals might remember it better as the Crossen House. Today it is the property of the Coxon family, who have owned it for 40 years. It was they who commissioned a brand new kitchen and family-room wing, and they deserve credit for ensuring that the new building did not interfere with the old. Indeed, blending two eras architecturally is no easy task, but the Coxons did a remarkable job.

At the half-way point, the tour will return to the Cold Springs hall for lunch. There, local writer and historian Tom Cruickshank will give a short illustrated talk on the heritage architecture of Hamilton Township. He will offer observations on his current project, working for the committee on an official architectural inventory of the municipality’s heritage buildings. His is the first concerted effort to combine existing files with new research and field photography. Already, he has come up with a few surprises, which will be part of his presentation on tour day.

The tour promises to sell out. Tickets are available only through the Hamilton Township municipal office (905-342-2810) — contact receptionist Erin Rollings (ext. 101 or erollings@hamiltontownsip.ca) or municipal clerk Kate Surerus (ext. 110 or ksurerus@hamiltontownship.ca). Cost is $40 each.
For more information, Committee Member Les Houston can answer questions at 905-342-3794.

— Submitted by Tom Cruickshank