Fulford Place in Brockville, Ontario
On departing Fulford Place, we enjoyed hospitality and good food at the Brockberry Café on King Street, a short distance away.
After lunch, it was back on the bus and onward to the village of Lyn, 10 km west of Brockville. On the way, we made two brief stops. The first was the home grounds of Braeburn Farms. RTHS President Bill Tupper explained how it grew to become one of Canada's leading egg producers. The second was a lovely veteran's memorial, largely built by Orval Ladd, our final host.
The afternoon's main event was a tour of Heritage Place Museum, usually open Sunday afternoons from 1-4, Easter through Thanksgiving. We thank the four volunteers who came in just to show us around on a Saturday.
Orval and Pat Ladd can probably be credited with establishing Heritage Place in their home town of Lyn. They spoke at length explaining the museum in general and the many unique items found within. One might not know it today, but at its height Lyn was a major site of water-powered industry. Displays and photos detailed the many things once refined or manufactured there, including: flour, lumber, cheese, leather, harnesses, barrels and pitchers.
The Museum at Lyn, Ontario
A blacksmith shop to the rear of the main building contains a wonderful array of old tools and devices seldom used today. Ladd said he could fill even more space, as people continue to bring him items worthy of preservation and display. The Ladds and their fellow volunteers exemplify how much individuals can contribute to causes and communities.
The return trip was pleasantly uneventful and only lacked napping cots to approach perfection.
Fulford Place and Heritage Place Museum are both worth repeat visits, as no single tour could cover all they contain and represent.
We thank all our gracious hosts and RTHS Program Director Susan McKellar who made all the arrangements. Suggestions for future field trips are always welcome. We hope you'll join us next June!
On the left, a model of the mills in the town of Lyn, Ontario
Each June, society members are offered a field trip in place of an evening talk. This time we toured two main destinations, made two small side stops and also enjoyed a very pleasant lunch. The trip this year was to Fulford Place in Brockville and the Heritage Place Museum in Lyn, Ontario.
The weather gods were kind and June 18th was a lovely almost-summer day. About 25 rode the bus, ably chauffeured by North Gower resident Brenda Rybiak. Including those who arrived independently, our group numbered approximately 30 on arriving at Fulford Place in Brockville.
Many are already familiar with Fulford Place. Overlooking the sparkling St. Lawrence, this landmark was designed by American architect Albert W. Fuller. After two years of construction it was completed in 1901. The four-story house originally boasted 35 rooms with 20,000 interior square feet on 15 acres. At its peak, the property also included a boathouse and a spacious log cabin on grounds designed by landscape architect Frederick Olmsted. Fulford Place Museum now consists of 3 (still lovely!) acres.
George Fulford Sr. made his fortune selling “Pink Pills for Pale People” (iron pills, basically) along with other medicines and products. His business concerns reportedly spanned 90 countries and 60 cities. We were told his wife (née Mary Wilder White) was primarily interested in people and preferred the log cabin to the mansion after her husband's death. (Judging by photos, the 'log cabin' was also very nice!) Both were used in summer only. Fulford Place enabled the family to welcome important figures in business, politics and society. Edward VII, the Duke of Kent and Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin all dined there.
Each year Fulford Place picks a different topic for more detailed displays. This time the focus was on the lives and society weddings of George and Mary's two daughters. Dorothy (1881–1949) married Arthur C. Hardy (son of former Ontario Premier Arthur S. Hardy) in a 1901 ceremony at Fulford Place. Her younger sister Martha –1910) died in childbirth. George and Mary's only son, George II, was born in 1902 when his mother was 46.
George Sr. died in 1905 at age 53 from injuries suffered in an automobile accident in Massachusetts - said to be one of the earliest such fatalities in North America. His widow never remarried. Fulford Place remained in the family until George Fulford II died in 1987 and George Fulford III bequeathed it to the Ontario Heritage Trust. After extensive renovations, the house opened as a public museum in 1993.
Long-time volunteer Jean Freemantle proved an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide for our group's tour. The museum was unusually successful in retaining, recovering and restoring the house's original art and furniture. To illustrate, at Dickinson House only one item is known to have been in use there during the Dickinson family's time, a chair once sat in by Sir John A. Macdonald. At Fulford Place everything on display is original, with the sole exception of a wall telephone, which was added slightly later.
Indoor photography is not permitted so one must go in person to see the wonderful examples of Edwardian grandeur and craftsmanship.
While older houses require a great deal of work and expense this slice-in-time experience offers beauty and insight from upper-crust life in the Thousand Isles in the early 1900's.