Annandale National Historic Site

Annandale House is a beautiful Victorian house (circa 1880s) that was the home of the first mayor of Tillsonburg (whose name, appropriately enough, was E. D. Tillson) and has been designated as a national historic site.
While the exterior doesn’t look too bad, it doesn’t do justice to the interior, which was been carefully restored. Annandale House represents the Victorian style of design called the “Aesthetic Art Movement”, a movement that encouraged the use of colour and decorative detailing in all parts of the house. In Annandale House, this movement is reflected in hand-painted ceilings, fancy inlaid floors, stained glass, and many other little features.

Annandale house is now a museum, with a newer addition serving as a tourist information centre. All three floors of the house can be toured; the rooms have been restored to the way they would have looked in the 1880s. The main gallery also features changing displays. Parking is available on site and there are picnic tables located on the grounds.

During the Christmas season (in 2011–12, November 25th, 2011 through January 11, 2012), all three floors of the museum are decorated for Christmas with decorations appropriate for the time period.

Admission rates are $4.50 for adults, $4 seniors, $3 students, $2 children, and $10 family. Hours of operation are 9:00 am–4:00 pm on weekdays, and 1:00 pm–4:00 pm on Sundays. Also open Saturday 12:00 pm–4:00 pm in July and August. Closed on most statutory holidays.

Mount Pleasant Cemetery (Toronto)

Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Photo by Flickr user ilkerender.

Mount Pleasant Cemetery is a large cemetery that is the home of many famous and interesting people from Toronto, including the Massey family (the mausoleum for Hart Massey’s sons is the largest in the cemetery and was designed by E. J. Lennox, who also designed several important late nineteenth-century Toronto buildings, including Old City Hall), Frederick Banting and Charles Best (buried separately), the discoverers of insulin, former prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, concert pianist Glenn Gould, and a lot more.

Mount Pleasant Cemetery is also a nice place to walk or jog around, with its wide paths and park-like, treed setting (it is home to one of the finest collections of trees in North America). It is a surprisingly nice setting.

Mount Pleasant Cemetery is located between Bayview Avenue to the east and Yonge Street to the west, and between the Belt Line Trail/Merton Street to the north and Moore Avenue to the south. Mount Pleasant Road bisects the cemetery.

Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower

Pioneer TowerThe Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower (known simply as the “Pioneer Tower” locally) was built in 1926 to honour the first settlers of what is now Waterloo Region. The tower is a curious sight, being circular, tall, and narrow. The tower, like many of the oldest buildings in the region, is built out of fieldstone.

Suburban development has come quite close to the tower, but there is a fair bit of grassy space around the tower, allowing for lots of nice photo possibilities. Being a national historic site, there are two plaques (a newer one nearby and an older one on the building). There’s also a small cemetery nearby with very a few very old stones. The interior of the tower isn’t always open, but you can make advance arrangements with Parks Canada if you know when you’re going to be visiting. From the top you can get nice views of the Grand River and the (unfortunately increasingly suburban) landscape around the tower.

Because of this suburban development, until recently, the signs that pointed the way to the Pioneer Tower pointed you in the wrong direction (the signs are good now, though). To get there, turn off King Street East on Deer Ridge Drive and loop around until you get to Lookout Lane.

Another nice location to get a photo of the Pioneer Tower is at the corner of Pinnacle Drive and Old Mill Road in Kitchener. Be sure to pack a telephoto lens.

Further information:

Ruthven Park

Ruthven Park is the location of the Thompson Mansion, a striking 1840s Greek Revival mansion. The site also features beautiful natural and rural landscapes. The mansion is located in a beautifully-manicured setting, and elsewhere can be found Carolinian forests, grand views of the Grand River, and more.

The mansion is filled with original furnishings and is open for guided tours and special events. Guided mansion tours cost $10, with various discounts for seniors, students, and children. Tours are scheduled hourly from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Wednesdays through Sundays (and Holiday Mondays) between Victoria Day and Thanksgiving.

The grounds are open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily; admission is by donation.

Ruthven Park is located about a kilometre south of the ghost town of Indiana. It has been designated a National Historic Site.

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Historic Site

Ansley Wilcox House, site of Theodore Roosevelt's 1901 inauguration.

Ansley Wilcox House.

After U.S. President William McKinley was shot on September 6, 1901, he appeared to be recovering, but then died suddenly on the 14th. Vice-President Theodore Roosevelt was then sworn in as president in an impromptu ceremony at the Ansley Wilcox house in Buffalo. The house, a National Historic Site, has now become a museum.

Dining room at Theodore Roosevelt Inagural Historic SiteThere are hourly guided tours of the museum between 9:30 am and 3:30 pm on weekdays and 12:30 pm and 3:30 pm on weekends, a rotating set of exhibits, and occasional lectures.  Make sure to check out the gardens outside as well. General admission is $10 ($7 students/seniors, $5 children). Free parking is located behind the site off of Franklin Street.

Old City Hall (Toronto)

[photograph of Old City Hall, Toronto]

Old City Hall, Toronto

Located at the corner of Queen and Bay Streets, Toronto’s Old City Hall is an island of Victorian architecture in a sea of modern buildings and is definitely worth a look. The building was used as Toronto’s city hall from 1899 to 1965, barely escaped demolition when the Eaton Centre was planned, and is now a provincial courthouse. It was designated a national historic site in 1989.

Designed by architect E. J. Lennox (who also designed Casa Loma and the King Edward Hotel) in the Romanesque Revival architectural style, the building was completed in 1899. The sandstone exterior is beautifully carved and offers a lot of surprises to those who look closely. One curiosity of the carving is the grotesque faces above the main (Queen Street) entrance. Lennox, who felt shortchanged by the Toronto city councillors of the day, got his revenge by having the distorted faces of the councillors carved above the main entrance. There is also a figure of Lennox to be found as well. Lennox’ own face is not deformed and can be recognised by the handlebar moustache. As well, letters spelling E.J. LENNOX ARCHITECT A.D. 1898 can be found in the corbels under the roof.

Inside the building, the main entrance is a grand space, lined with marble columns with plaster capitals, and you will find a mosaic floor beneath your feet. Beside and between the entrance doors are painted murals commemorating pioneer life. Exhibit cabinets can be found on the main floor, on your left as you enter. One display describes the “Friends of Old City Hall”; the other displays photographs and artifacts. When court is not in session, the former city council chamber is also open to the public.