21 Nottingham Street

McLean House

Bylaw: (2006)-18200

Legal description: Part Lot 199, Plan 8

Designated portions

The following elements of 21 Nottingham Street are to be protected under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act:

  • The entire front façade, including the original door and window openings,
  • The masonry of the side elevations of the original sections of the house,
  • On the interior, the staircase handrail and newel post are identified.

It is intended that non-original features may be returned to documented earlier designs or to their documented original without requiring City Council permission for an alteration to the designation.

Property history

Built circa 1847, the McLean house is representative of residential architecture constructed within Guelph’s first settlement district. The design value lies in it being an excellent example of 19th century residential architecture. Constructed of locally quarried limestone, the two storey city residence of Georgian proportions features elements such as ashlar masonry, hammer dressed lintels and rough-tooled sills.

The heritage value of the McLean House lies in its association with Dr. Henry Orton and more importantly, John McLean.

Dr. Orton originally purchased the property in October 1836. He was one of the founders of the Methodist Church in Guelph who worshipped on this site between 1835 and 1847.

Between 1847 and 1857, 21 Nottingham Street was the home of John McLean who settled his family in Guelph in 1846. McLean is a significant historical figure having worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company from 1820 to 1846. He is credited with major explorations, including the overland crossing from Ungava Bay to Hamilton Inlet as well as the ‘discovery’ of Churchill Falls. McLean helped establish the Guelph Herald, a strong conservative newspaper and between 1851 and 1857, he also operated Guelph’s first Bank from the house. It is reported that it was in this residence that McLean wrote his famous book, Notes of a Twenty-Five Years’ Service in the Hudsons Bay Territory in 1849.

21 Nottingham is an excellent surviving example of early 19th century residential architecture in Guelph’s first settlement district. The cultural association with a significant Canadian figure, John McLean, Canadian explorer and author and historical association as Guelph’s first Methodist Church and first bank, highlights this property as a significant addition to the City of Guelph’s designated properties.