Historical Landmarks in YDH

Posted : October 29, 2018

Our blog is chock full of great ideas for fun things to see and do in York Durham and Headwaters. We are always adding new content and updating old posts, but sometimes you might stumble upon something from our vault. If this article has inspired you to hit the road, be sure to double-check that the featured stops in this post are still welcoming visitors.

Melville White Church

Melville White ChurchThe beauty of a historical church is breathtaking and the Melville White Church is no exception. The church was built in 1837 by Daniel McMillan, the founder of the nearby village of Erin. The simplicity of this building’s structure reflects the religious beliefs and modest means of the original Scottish Presbyterian pioneers of the Caledon area. In addition, the church was named “The White Church” because you guessed it, it’s painted white.

The Church was named after Andrew Melville who was a follower of John Know, the founder of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland in the 17th century. The first minister, Duncan McMillan, often preached in both Gaelic and English and was, of course, a Presbyterian. Though located all the way across the Atlantic ocean, this church was not immune to the tumultuous political goings-on of Scotland throughout the late 19th century. This is reflected in its flip-flopping of denominations in its early years, until it joined the United Church of Canada in 1925. It remained as such until the dissolution of the congregation in 1964.

Visit the Melville White Church

Having all but been forgotten, and used only on the rarest occasions by the community, the building remained vacant until 1995 at which time a demolition permit had been requested.

If not for the ongoing efforts of the Belfountain Heritage Society and the Town of Caledon, this piece of history would most certainly would have disappeared. The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario supported the restoration of the White Church, recognizing it as the oldest standing church in the Town of Caledon, and the most tangible symbol of the area’s Scottish Presbyterian heritage.

“The White Church, one of the few remaining pre-Victorian era timber fame churches in Ontario, is a valuable cultural resource to the Town of Caledon. The modest size of the church, the quality of the natural light filtering through the windows, and the simplicity of the decor made the building highly adaptable for a number of users.”

– Denis Heroux, Architectural Technologist

To book an event in this newly restored piece of Scottish heritage, visit Belfountain Heritage Society

Parkwood National Historic Site

Robert McLaughlin Gallery OshawaTo see the Parkwood Estate Manor and grounds in person is truly a jaw-dropping experience. Inspired by early 20th century Beaux-Arts design, the Manor was built between 1915-17, shortly before Robert McLaughlin became founding President of General Motors of Canada. The McLaughlins had achieved “First Family” status in Oshawa. Parkwood was born of a collaboration between Sam McLaughlin, his wife Adelaide, and the best artists, architects and landscape designers of the time.

Visit the Parkwood Estate Manor

Crystal and china, silver, linens, books, family photographs and memorabilia, needlework and trophies are all preserved and displayed in their original settings. The collection is complete down to the monogrammed linens, creating an impression that the family is still in residence.

You must visit this estate to experience the life and accomplishments of a Canadian auto-baron, and the lavish lifestyle made possible by automotive success. Visit Parkwood National Historic Site for more information on tours.

Uxbridge Heritage Museum

Uxbridge Heritage MuseumThe Uxbridge Historical Centre (UHC) was established in 1972 to collect, preserve and display artifacts, documents and photographs related to the history of the Uxbridge area and the former townships of Uxbridge and Scott.

Visit the Uxbridge Historical Centre

Discover the history of Uxbridge and surrounding areas in this real home-town museum with historical buildings and artifacts.  Locally-made agricultural equipment, machinery, tools, and vehicles, as well as pianos, organs and other musical instruments are just a few examples of the Centre’s varied collection of artifacts. Other objects that convey the story of everyday life include a wealth of domestic and household artifacts, clothing and appliances.

The Centre offers guided tours of 10 heritage buildings on a picturesque site overlooking the Oak Ridges Moraine. Along with the best view in town, the site offers easy access to the Quaker Trail. To learn more visit The Uxbridge Historical Centre

Thomas Foster Memorial

Thomas Foster MemorialA real gem within the countryside of rural Uxbridge. Enjoy the magnificence of Thomas Foster’s final resting place amidst the gold mosaics and stunning architecture. This picturesque structure was constructed in 1935-36 by Thomas Foster, mayor of Toronto from 1925-27. It now holds his remains and those of his wife, and their daughter.

Visit the Thomas Foster Memorial

Upon entering, patrons cross the ‘River of Death’, in which floats water lilies and lily pads. The interior of the Temple is awe-inspiring, with four great arches supported by marble columns. Once you step inside you’ll see that this building draws from numerous artistic styles and really stands out as something unique. The Memorial was built with no wood in the structure, solid marble and 22k gold mosaics.

Though captivating to visit, the memorial has somehow managed to remain a hidden gem. For more information visit Thomas Foster Memorial

Sharon Temple National Historic Site & Museum

Sharon TempleIf walls could talk! The Sharon Temple Museum is an exceptional historic site located in the village of Sharon, Ontario. It is composed of eight distinctive heritage buildings and dwellings, and houses over 6,000 artifacts.

The Sharon Temple was constructed by the Children of Peace, an Upper Canada Quaker sect from 1825-31 and is an architectural symbol of their vision of a society based on the values of peace, equality and social justice. It opened as a museum in 1918 and was designated a National Historic Site in 1990 because of its historic and architectural significance.

Visit the Sharon Temple

The Children of Peace cultivated music wholeheartedly both in and outside of the Temple recognizing its education and community-building value. They created the first civilian band in Canada and built the first organ in Ontario. Book a tour today and experience a rich story that elevates the soul. Visit The Sharon Temple Museum

Canadian Automotive Museum

Canadian Car GalleryAre classic cars your thing? Then the Canadian Automotive Museum is the place for you. The Canadian Automotive Museum opened in 1963 and was incorporated in October 1964 as a charitable, not-for-profit institution.

Visit the Canadian Automotive Museum

With a significant number of Canadian-built and Canadian-owned automobiles, including both rare and early models, such as the Kennedy, Tudhope, McLaughlin-Buick, and McKay, the museum provides important examples of Canada’s unique automotive heritage.

The Canadian Automotive Museum now houses a collection of more than 80 donated vehicles and an automotive reference library. Visit The Canadian Automotive Museum

Museum of Dufferin

Dufferin County Museum Orangeville There’s so much to see at the Museum of Dufferin you could easily spend a full day exploring their vast collection of artifacts, not to mention their genealogy archive. Search newspaper transcriptions and indexes, headstone transcriptions, church records, local history book indexes, family trees, and much more.

Visit the Museum of Dufferin

Their archives are filled with stories of the community and the people who helped build and shape it, all available to the local history buffs and researchers. It also includes information on thousands of local war veterans. Staff are always adding new data, verified sources and indexes to explore.

To learn about upcoming exhibitions and art shows visit the Museum Of Dufferin

Ontario Regiment Museum

Remebrance Day Parade Oshawa

This is Durham Region’s best kept military secret! It houses the largest collection of operational historic military vehicles in Canada, and a fascinating array of displays on the history of the Ontario Regiment from 1866 to present.

The oldest ancestor of the Ontario Regiment dates back to 31 March 1858 when the Volunteer Highland Rifle Company of Whitby was formed as an independent company in the Active Militia of Canada. The 34th Ontario Battalion of Infantry was officially authorized in 1866, comprised of the independent companies of what was known then as “Ontario County”, and what is known now as “Durham Region”. The Whitby Highland Rifle Company was one of many Militia companies sent to the Niagara region in late 1864, due to tensions with the United States.

Visit the Ontario Regiment Museum

At the Ontario Regiment Museum you will also find many artifacts of Colonel Robert Samuel McLaughlin, affectionately known as “Colonel Sam”, a historical pillar of the Durham region. As the long standing president of General Motors of Canada throughout the golden age of the automobile, many historical landmarks and buildings in the region are related to this important figure. You will have learned all about “Colonel Sam” and his family having toured the Parkwood Estate Manor, as well as the Canadian Automotive Museum. You might also recognize the Robert McLaughlin Gallery as his father’s name sake.

Visit the Ontario Regiment Museum website for tour info.

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