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Sir John Johnson House

Williamstown, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1989/04/27

General view of the Sir John Johnson House showing the T shaped plan.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 2003.
General view
General view of the Sir John Johnson House showing the trellised verandah.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 2005.
General view
General view of Sir John Johnson House showing the regularly arranged, multi-pane, sash windows.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 2003.
General view

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2010/05/11

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Sir John Johnson House is located on a hill in a rural setting overlooking the Raisin River in Williamstown, Ontario. It is a refined log and timber farmhouse with a T-shaped plan. The house features a trellised verandah that stretches across its long façade. The gable roof features prominent brick chimneys and a series of four dormers that echo the rhythm of the multi-paned windows across the façade. The official recognition is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

Sir John Johnson House is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.

Historical Value
Sir John Johnson House is directly associated with the settlement of Loyalists and Scottish immigrants in the Williamstown district in Ontario. Sir John Johnson was a prominent United Empire Loyalist from New York State who was given extensive responsibility for the distribution of land and settlement of Loyalists after the American Revolution. Through the course of his duties, Johnson acquired considerable land, demonstrating his importance and status. He built the house, which was part of a grist and sawmill complex designed to attract other settlers to the area. Johnson’s property, along with the house, illustrates a significant phase of development in the establishment of Williamstown, as the mill would not only encourage settlement, but would create a higher grade of housing with readily-available sawn-boards.

Architectural Value
Sir John Johnson House is valued for its good aesthetic design. Built of modified pièce-sur-pièce construction, it is an outstanding example of a refined log building and is one of the earliest surviving examples of the technique popular in the St. Lawrence Valley brought to eastern Ontario by its first settlers. Presenting a very good functional design, the original log building was integrated into a more substantial farmhouse with two successive additions that transformed a relatively simple framed-log structure, with original timber infill, into a residence. The construction techniques employed represent three distinct building programs. The very good craftsmanship and materials are evident in the wall timbers, and carefully executed framing.

Environmental Value
The existing outbuildings and mill ruins are a testament to the historical relationship between the house and the development of the surrounding landscape into a community, and reinforces the rural character of its agricultural setting in the immediate vicinity of the house. The house, along with the property, creates a strong pastoral character and its prominent siting on the brow of a hill makes the house a visual landmark within the small village of Williamstown.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of Sir John Johnson House should be respected.

Its good aesthetic and very good functional design and very good craftsmanship and materials, for example:
- the integration of the early building from the 1700s into a more substantial farmhouse;
- the gable-roofed, T-shaped plan, which consists of a one-and-a-half storey rectangular structure with a steep two-storey, gable-fronted wing;
- the series of dormers and projecting brick chimneys set on a continuous roof;
- the log structure with timber infill using the ‘pièce-sur-pièce’ construction and the ‘entre poteaux’ method;
- the wood cladding;
- the regularly arranged, multi-pane, sash windows and the two ground-floor casement windows and doorway on the east wing;
- the trellised verandah that stretches along the front elevation;
- the entranceway that opens onto the south-side verandah;
- the interior layout.

The manner in which Sir John Johnson’s House reinforces the rural character of its agricultural setting and is a familiar landmark, as evidenced by:
- its scale, design and natural materials that harmonize with its pastoral landscape surrounding and complement its semi-rural setting.
- its high visibility from the village of Williamstown due to its prominent siting atop a hill.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy

Recognition Type

Recognized Federal Heritage Building

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type



Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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