History


Source: Essay “The Grand Outrage of the Grand Old Man” by Donald Creighton, Toronto Globe and Mail, October 21, 1972. Thanks to Chris and local historian Tommy Thompson of Whitevale, Ontario for rediscovering this gem.

This past June 11th, Canada’s Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, revived a 41-year-old federal government political decision to build an international airport in north Pickering, including a new threat of urban development. The site is on Canada’s best Class 1 farm land, including Ontario designated, environmentally sensitive Greenbelt and Oak Ridges Moraine land. This announcement was made despite the fact that the three existing jet-serviced international airports in south-central Ontario are operating at about half of their combined maximum passenger capacity. With no price tag, no business case, and no need, there is no reason to build an airport in Pickering. Mr Flaherty’s announcement re-energized local organizations who have long opposed the Pickering airport scheme and the needless destruction of prime farmland; such as, Green Durham Association, and Land over Landings, who during the summer has allied with other groups opposed, including Friends of the Rouge, Save the Oak Ridges Moraine, and Food and Water First.

Corn crop on the Tapscott farm on the north Pickering federal lands. The Tapscott family still farms and lives on this property that the federal government expropriated from them in 1972, for an airport that was never built. (Click to embiggen.)

Criticisms of the Pickering airport proposal have not changed over the past 41 years. University of Toronto history professor Donald Creighton was regarded by many as the foremost Canadian historian of the mid-20th century. Living in Brooklin, Ontario, he took an interest in the Pickering airport. After researching the history behind the decision, in the fall of 1972 he wrote the following essay of outrage at the Pickering airport decision.

On March 2, 1972, the Governments of Canada and Ontario, like two great eagles sailing high in the sky, swooped down and pounced on the unsuspecting and unprotected citizens of Pickering Township, Ontario County.

A second international airport for the Toronto-centred region, the federal government declared in a joint announcement, will be located in Pickering Township, just to the northeast of Toronto. There had been no warning of this extraordinary czarist ukase.
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Sources: The Ontario History of Brougham, Past! Present! Future?, by Robert A. Miller, 1973; Historic Ever Green Villa Bulldozed, by Pat Valentine, November, 2012.

Pickering, Ontario lost an important piece of its heritage when the house called Ever Green Villa was demolished last week.

Ever Green Villa wasn’t just any house. It was a grand old house on a farm property that was historically important. Located on a 1799 United Empire Loyalist grant, the farm was acquired by Scottish immigrant Elder George Barclay, a Baptist preacher, in 1819. Elder Barclay became a prominent advocate of political reforms promoted by William Lyon Mackenzie. Two of Barclay’s sons, George Jr and David, were also Mackenzie sympathizers and participated in the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837. George Jr was arrested in December 1837, convicted and sentenced to three years in prison, to be followed by banishment to a penal colony in Van Dieman’s Land, but he was pardoned and released in 1839.

Elder Barclay’s farm passed to his youngest son, Eli. In approximately 1854, Eli replaced the original log cabin with a house he called Ever Green Villa. This was a large and handsome farm residence, built of clear white pine, and elaborately ornamented with gingerbread trim along the eaves of the house, including its verandahs. The Barclays surrounded the house with spectacular floral gardens. Many thought this house was the finest on the Brock Road; according to family lore, people from miles around would drive past Ever Green Villa on Sundays just to see the Barclay flower gardens.

Eli Barclay and his family stand in front of Ever Green Villa in 1865. (Click to embiggen.) Photo credit: Robert A. Miller estate

Ownership of the Barclay farm passed from Eli to his son Charles, who married my great-aunt, Caroline “Carrie” Stevenson, from Brougham, Ontario. Great-Aunt Carrie lived in Ever Green Villa for her entire married life. The farm was taken over by their second son Harold, who eventually sold it and moved to a farm near Lindsay, Ontario in 1958.
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Until recently, “Atha” Willie Miller and the history of Lakeside Stock Farm in Storm Lake, Iowa were somewhat of a mystery in the annals of the Miller family. Why did he go to manage this particular farm in the northwestern Iowa frontier in the 1880s? Thanks to key research contributed by Wendy Cooke of St. Louis, Missouri, we now have a better understanding of the fascinating story of this farm by the lake.

Document sources: Storm Lake Pilot Tribune newspaper; Miller, Robert Anker, Highlights of Miller History; Sanders, Alvin, Shorthorn Cattle: A Series of Historical Sketches, Memoirs and Records of the Breed and Its Development in the United States and Canada. Chicago: Sanders Publishing Co., 1916.
Photos: provided by, and used with the permission of Wendy Cooke, St. Louis, Missouri.

After the American Civil War, Illinois Central Railroad built a line from Chicago to Sioux City, which is located on the Missouri River on the western border of the state of Iowa. Since the “last spike” was driven just west of Storm Lake in 1870, it is possible that land speculators purchased land on both sides of the railway, including land that was to become Lakeside Farm.

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