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Chiefswood National Historic Site of Canada

1037 Highway #54, Six Nations, Ontario, N0A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1953/05/26

Corner view of Chiefswood, showing the front elevation and the main entrance, 2003.; Parks Canada Agency/ Agence Parcs Canada, 2003.
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Corner view of Chiefswood, showing the façade facing the road, 2003.; Parks Canada Agency/ Agence Parcs Canada, 2003.
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Other Name(s)

Chiefswood National Historic Site of Canada
Chiefswood
Chiefswood

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1853/01/01 to 1856/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/05/22

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Chiefswood is a small gem of an Italianate villa set in a picturesque treed landscape on the banks of the Grand River in the heart of the Six Nations Grand River Territory, in Ontario. Its location is key to its historic meaning as the home of the Johnson family, especially poet E. Pauline Johnson. The formal recognition refers to the interior and exterior of the house.

Heritage Value

Chiefswood National Historic Site of Canada was designated because it speaks to the Johnson family's role as intermediaries between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cultures.

Built between 1853 and 1856 for Six Nations Chief George H.M. Johnson (1816 - 1884), Chiefswood was the birthplace of poet Emily Pauline Johnson and the Johnson family home until George Johnson's death in 1884. Johnson was prominent socially and politically, serving as official government interpreter, thus bridging both the British colonial and First Nations worlds. He built his home on farmland he purchased along the Grand River, close to the Anglican mission church near Tuscarora (Middleport). While not the only mansion built by First Nations families during the nineteenth century, Chiefswood is the only one of such a grand scale and architectural sophistication known to have survived.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1992.

Character-Defining Elements

Aspects of this house that contribute to its heritage value include those elements which speak to the Johnson’s family role as intermediaries between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cultures, namely:
- the location of the house on the Six Nations Grand River Territory;
- its intimate relationship with its natural setting, the river and the surrounding landscape;
- its use of the Italianate architectural vocabulary as a sophisticated and fashionable manner illustrated by the symmetrical elevation, two-storey volume with truncated hip roof and chimneys, deep bracketed eaves, stucco finish, sash and French windows, classically inspired frontispiece, and standard, centre-hall floor plan with surviving, classically inspired trim.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date

1953/05/26

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1856/01/01 to 1884/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Social Movements
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Learning and the Arts
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type

Current

Leisure
Museum
Leisure
Historic or Interpretive Site

Historic

Residence
Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer

n/a

Builder

n/a

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

514

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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