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McLean House

21, Nottingham Street, City of Guelph, Ontario, N1H, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2006/11/20

Featured is the symmetrical two-storey limestone facade.; Mary Tivy, 2008.
Facade, McLean House, 2008
Of note is the hip roof and Georgian proportions.; Mary Tivy, 2008.
Facade, McLean House, 2008
Of note are the rough-tooled window sills.; Mary Tivy, 2008.
Detail Photo, McLean House, 2008

Other Name(s)

McLean House
21 Nottingham Street

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/09/30

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The McLean House is located at 21 Nottingham Street, on the north side of Nottingham Street, west of Gordon Street, in the City of Guelph. The two-storey limestone residence was constructed in circa 1847.

The property was designated, by the City of Guelph, in 2006, for its cultural heritage value or interest, under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, By-law (2006) – 18200.

Heritage Value

The McLean House is associated with Dr. Henry Orton, a prominent Guelph politician and a founder of the Methodist Church in Guelph, who purchased the property, in 1836, and worshipped on the site until 1847.

The property is also associated with John McLean, who lived with his family in the McLean House, from 1847-1857. McLean is a significant historical figure who had worked for the Hudson's Bay Company. He is accredited with major explorations, including the overland crossing from Ungava Bay to Hamilton Inlet, as well as, the discovery of Churchill Falls. He was appointed Guelph's first Collector of Her Majesty's Customs, by the Governor General, in 1853. McLean also helped establish the Guelph Herald, a strong conservative view newspaper, which operated between 1851 and 1857. He also operated Guelph's first bank from his house.

It was reported that, while in this residence, McLean wrote his famous book, in 1849, “Notes of a Twenty-Five Years' Service in the Hudson's Bay Territory”. He is also touted for keeping Canada together when Great Britain was poised to cede all the land west of Lake Superior to the United States, as part of the compensation for damages to U.S. property, by the Confederate steamship Alabama. It was McLean's public campaign, through the newspapers, under the nom-de-plume “Viator”, that brought light to Canada's “…vast resources, beauty and immense value”. This public campaign is accredited to having persuaded Parliament to keep Canada intact.

Built in circa 1847, the McLean House is an excellent example of typical residential architecture constructed in the mid-19th century, within Guelph's first settlement district. Constructed of locally quarried limestone, the two-storey city residence of Georgian proportions, features common architectural elements of the time, such as; ashlar masonry, hammer dressed lintels and rough-tooled sills.

Source: City of Guelph, By-law (2006) – 18200.

Character-Defining Elements

Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the McLean House include its:
- two-storey limestone construction
- Georgian proportions
- hip roof
- three-bay facade
- 2 over 2 windows
- hammer dressed lintels and rough-tooled sills
- rectangular transom above the entranceway




Recognition Authority

Local Governments (ON)

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Politics and Political Processes

Function - Category and Type


Commerce / Commercial Services


Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Guelph Community Design and Development Services 1 Carden Street Guelph, ON N1H3A1

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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