The last farm house in what was once Appleby Village was rich in history and the city's farming past.

News 100 blueBy Staff

February 12th, 2018



When we published the story on the Taylor farm and the house on the property at Appleby Line at Mainway we didn’t have access to much in the way of pictures.

A Gazette reader with a keen interest in heritage had taken some snapshots and made them available to us.

Site with address and backhoe

Backhoe sitting on the plot of land where what became known as the Taylor house existed. Not only was the structure the last farmhouse in what was once called Appleby Village it was demolished without a permit.

Historical picture

Burlington once had many houses like this – they were the homes of farmers who worked the land that is now covered by six lane expressways and factories. Prize Short Horn cattle and proud Clydesdale horses were in the field and milk sold for 10 cents a gallon and one cow earned the farmer $5.34

“We all understand that we need to progress and modernize” said our reader, “ As long as it is done with collaborative stewardship.” Nothing collaborative about the sound of a backhoe tearing away at the walls of a house that is the last piece of what was once a small village.

This is one of the last remnants of the Village of Appleby, which was almost entirely demolished in the 1950s to make way for service roads for the expanded QEW. The house is set back from the road, with a well kept lawn and rows of trees on either side of the house. The landscaping is traditional.

It was built in 1896 for Charles Fothergill; there is a date stone and name found engraved in the chimney.
In 1877 the property was owned by John Fothergill.


Somewhere in that rubble there is a stone with the date the house was built and who it was built for – the people who arranged for the demolition chose not to collaborate with the city to salvage some of our history – no wonder we know so little about ourselves.

According to Memories of Pioneer Days, pp. 171-172, John Fothergill was the only son (of ten children) of Christopher and Frances Fothergill, who immigrated from Applbey, Westmoreland, England to settle on this new world Appleby Line in the early 1830s.

John married Charlotte Tuck and in 1878 purchased the Balsam Lodge farm from Arnanda Baxter.

In 1889 Charles, their eldest son, married Amelia Cole and took over this part of the Fothergill farm property on the east side of Appleby Line. His younger brother Christopher went to the Yukon and is mentioned in Laura Berton’s book, I Married the Klondike…

The third son, Thomas, married Lucy Matthewman of Appleby and farmed the Fothergill property on the west side of Appleby Line.

Burlington crest - with city reference

The city crest pays homage to a proud past.

According to an article by Alana Perkins in the 24 May 1997 issue of the Spectator, their house was the Lucas Farmhouse which was dismantled, moved, and rebuilt at the (former) Ontario Agricultural Museum at Milton.
According to Murray Fisher’s ‘Farewell to the Garden of Canada’ (1984), this farm was owned by H. Featherstone, Mixed farming, sold to J. Taylor, Mixed Farming.

Ruth and Jack Taylor were the last people to live in the house.

The property is identified as “employment land” and given its location that is likely what it will remain as.

One wonders if that stone with the date and name were recovered during the demolition.

There are rules against tearing down a building without a permit. The fine is reported to be $2000 an d it is the city that will have to take any action that is going to be taken.

Expect the city manager to be tough on this one.

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3 comments to The last farm house in what was once Appleby Village was rich in history and the city’s farming past.

  • Jim

    Unfortunately buying a heritage property every time an owner wants to tear it down just isn’t financially feasible. Once a property is designated there are tax breaks and other incentives to help out homeowners.
    I can understand the frustration of the owners having to maintain a property that is abandoned and subject to break in’s. A $2000 fine would seem a cheaper alternative as well as the property is now easier to sell. That does not change the fact that their actions were illegal as well as completely irresponsible and a threat to public safety. With a house that old there is a chance of asbestos. If not removed properly that asbestos can get into the soil, contaminating it and requiring major and expensive clean-up. That pile of rubble could also be a hazard if not properly secured. It has essentially become a construction site.
    I hope the city of Burlington will take the illegal and dangerous actions of these owners very seriously. A $2000 fine is not nearly enough. Not only was a piece of our heritage lost but the public has been put at risk. It needs to be made clear to homeowners that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.

  • steve

    If the city was so concerned about the heritage status of the property why didn’t they buy it for fair market value? “Collaborative stewardship” means you don’t have control over your property. It’s governed by a committee.

  • Stephen White

    I truly felt sick reading this article.

    It is not only disturbing but frankly, offensive, to look at these pictures and watch a piece of Burlington’s history literally being bulldozed. It is bad enough to watch our downtown being ripped apart by a collection of fast buck artists (a.k.a. developers) whose mission seems to be to throw up as many sterile, boring, modern-day chicken coops as possible. To be subjected to an important piece of our heritage recklessly destroyed with no thought or consideration apparently given to how some of it could be preserved is appalling. I understand the need for employment lands, but frankly, the farmhouse could have been preserved and businesses build around it.

    Sad…really, really sad