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Ruthven Gatehouse

243, Highway # 54, Cayuga, Ontario, 140, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1996/08/02

Front showing portico, surrounding fields and mature trees – 2004; OHT, 2004
Front Elevation – 2004
Oblique view of the front showing part of the original entrance wall (at bottom) – 2004; OHT, 2004
Oblique View – 2004
Oblique view of the rear showing lean-to addition – 2004; OHT, 2004
Oblique View, rear – 2004

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/11/14

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The building at 243 Highway 54, known as Ruthven Gatehouse, is situated on the edge of Ruthven Park, a 1,600-acre property, in the Village of Cayuga, in Haldimand County. The one-storey brick building was designed in the Greek Revival style and was constructed in ca. 1867.

The exterior and scenic character of the property are protected by an Ontario Heritage Trust conservation easement (1996). Designated as part of Ruthven National Historic Site, in 1995, by the Government of Canada, the property is also designated by the former County of Haldimand-Norfolk (now Haldimand County) under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law 1483-98).

Heritage Value

Ruthven Gatehouse is significant for its association with politician and businessman David Thompson I (1793-1851), the Grand River Navigation Company, and five generations of the Thompson family. David Thompson I, was born in the Niagara region and served as an officer, in the War of 1812. He went into business working as a contractor for the Welland Canal and, in 1832, he bought 1,200 acres of land on the Grand River, establishing the village of Indiana. Ruthven was modelled after an English country estate and the gatehouse is a formal statement that conveys the sense of a landed gentry. David Thompson I, represented Haldimand in the Legislature of the United Canada's from 1841-1851. His son David Thompson II (1836-1886) was an MPP from 1863-1886, and his son David Thompson III (1859-1905) was a doctor and member of Hamilton City Council. In the late 19th century Ruthven ceased to be used as the family's principle residence. In 1992, the estate along with 1,600 acres was acquired by the Lower Grand River Land Trust (LGRLT). The 1867 Ruthven Gatehouse currently serves as the offices of the LGRLT.

Ruthven Gatehouse is an example of the Greek Revival style. Built of red brick laid in common bond, Ruthven Gatehouse balances proportion and composition to compliment its natural surroundings and the main estate house. Laid in a T-plan, Ruthven Gatehouse is three bays wide and one-storey high and contains three rooms. Resting on a rubble stone foundation, the centre-bay front entrance has a simple portico with a frieze and pediment, supported by simple square piers and matching engaged pilasters. The corners of the structure are distinguished with white pilasters that contrast the red brick and terminate at a simple fascia that continues around the entire building. The sash 6 over 6 windows have wooden sills and brick lintels. The north and south wings are one bay deep and framed by paired pilasters with cornices, above which is a low gable roof clad in metal. Combined with the pilasters this creates the impression of a portico with a plain brick tympanum. The rear wing is also one room deep with a gable roof but lacks the pilasters of the façade and side wings. A wooden lean-to is attached to the back of the rear wing and continues along the south side of the rear wing, terminating at the back of the south end wing. In the centre of the roof there is a small brick chimney with two flues set at opposite angles to a single chimney base.

Located on Highway 54 at the entrance to the road leading to the main house, Ruthven Gatehouse is part of the larger Picturesque landscaping that makes Ruthven unique. Surrounded by the remnants of the early stone wall that distinguished the entrance to the estate, Ruthven Gatehouse is set amongst woodlands and fields at the east edge of the property. The original gateposts have been relocated further in along the estate road, but retain a relationship with Ruthven Gatehouse, as does the nearby ghost town of Indiana, of which only a cemetery remains. A mature walnut tree stands directly in front of the gatehouse, a remnant of earlier plantings.

Source: OHT Easement Files.

Character-Defining Elements

Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of Ruthven Gatehouse include its:
- Greek Revival architectural style
- T-shape plan
- one storey scale
- red brick laid in common bond
- three-bay façade
- rubble stone foundation
- entrance portico with frieze and pediment
- square piers and engaged pilasters of the entrance portico
- pilasters at the corners of the front and side elevations
- brick tympanum at the south and north ends under the low gable roof
- fascia that continues around the entire building
- 6 over 6 sash windows
- wood window sills
- brick lintels over all windows and door
- low gable roof
- brick chimney with two flues set at opposite angles to the single base
- siting on Highway 54 as the entrance to the Ruthven estate
- remains of the original stone wall marking the estate entrance
- original gateposts located on the estate road
- location near fields and woodlands at the east edge of the estate
- ghost town of Indiana (now only a cemetery)
- mature walnut tree directly in front of the gatehouse as a remnant of earlier plantings




Recognition Authority

Ontario Heritage Trust

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Ontario Heritage Foundation Easement

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1832/01/01 to 1832/01/01
1894/01/01 to 1894/01/01
2003/01/01 to 2003/01/01
1995/01/01 to 1995/01/01
1996/01/01 to 1996/01/01
1998/01/01 to 1998/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Peopling the Land

Function - Category and Type


Civic Space


Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Ontario Heritage Trust Property Files Ontario Heritage Trust 10 Adelaide Street East Toronto, Ontario

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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