Paisley Road – 646

By-law: (2000)-16420

Legal Description: Part Lot 3, Concession 1, Division E, Pt 21 of 61R-249

Designated Portions

The designation applies to:

  • All exterior limestone walls of the building, with the exception of the small one-storey stone addition and its roof line on the northwest side of the dwelling that dates from the 1960’s;
  • All window and door openings on the designated walls of the building and their associated decorative stone surrounds
  • The transom and sidelights at the main front door;
  • The roof line over the designated portion of the building, including the wood brackets and eaves;
  • The front porch;
  • Inside the building, the designation covers only the main staircase and the decorative ceiling mouldings throughout the dwelling.

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

Property History

This fine stone mansion was once part of a large park-like estate just west of Guelph’s original boundary with the Township of Guelph. Named “Maxwelton” by its first owner, Thomas Sandilands, the building features elements of the Italianate architectural style including a gabled projecting centerpiece, elaborate stonework, twin flue stone chimneys and bracketed eaves. Quarry-faced corner quoins provide textural contrast with the smooth ashlar finish of the building’s façade. Decorative exterior features include semi-circular window heads embellished with carved stone mouldings and an unusual bay window of stone. Inside, the building features a wide centre hall and staircase and decorative ceiling mouldings in many of the main rooms and halls.

Thomas Sandilands, a native of Glasgow, Scotland, purchased the property from the Canada Company in 1844. Around 1848, he built the original two-storey limestone dwelling that faced north towards Paisley Road. By 1860, a major addition to the original house was completed with the main front wall of the dwelling now facing west. Sandilands, a successful merchant for many years, was appointed agent of the Gore Bank – the first bank agency opened in Guelph – in 1840, eventually becoming manager. Sandilands is also credited with the establishment of the first lending library in Guelph. Upon his death in 1865, Thomas’ son George, was appointed manager of the Guelph branch of the Gore Bank and inherited the property. In 1877, he resigned from this position in order to found the Central Bank, which he operated and managed until 1887 when it failed amidst a deep depression. In 1890, he opened the Trader’s Bank on Wyndham Street and acted as manager until his death in 1899. In 1882, George Sandilands married Annie Grant, the niece of Colonel William Alexander, owner of the neighbouring farm across Paisley Road to the north, known as “Ellenburn”. For a number of years, George and Annie Sandilands jointly held both properties until “Maxwelton” was sold in 1889.

Following a number of short-term owners, James Bowman purchased the property in 1895, renaming it “Elm Park Farm”. Upon his death in 1944, James Bowman was considered one of the most prominent livestock breeders in North America, raising prize-winning Aberdeen-Angus cattle, Clydesdale horses and Suffolk Down sheep. He was a Director of the Canadian National Exhibition for thirty-four years and also served terms as a Director of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and the Guelph Provincial Winter Fair. He was inducted into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1962.

The property was significantly reduced in size from 100 acres to just over 4 acres in 1944. Later owners include Miss Agnes and Mr. Anton Walker (1944-1962) and Eva and Lorne Fischer (1962-1972). Between 1972 and 1979 the property was further reduced in size when a portion of the land was acquired for the Hanlon Expressway and for a townhouse complex on the westerly edge of the property. The owner at the time of designation, Shirley McColeman, purchased the house in 1979 and has continued to restore the dwelling and associated property.

The designation includes all exterior limestone walls of the building (with the exception of the small one-storey addition and its roof line on the north-west side of the dwelling, dating from the 1960’s), all window and door openings on these designated walls and their associated decorative stone surrounds, the bay window of stone, the transom and sidelights at the main front door, the stone chimneys, the roofline over the designated portion of the building, including the wood brackets and eaves, and the front porch (which dates from 1911). Inside, the designation covers the main staircase and the decorative ceiling mouldings throughout the dwelling.