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27, Barber Avenue, City of Guelph, Ontario, N1H, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1980/09/15

Featured is the Mansard roof which is characteristic of the French Mansardic style.; Lindsay Benjamin, 2007.
Northeast Elevation of 27 Barber Avenue, 2007
Detailed view of the southeast corner featuring patterned slate roof.; Lindsay Benjamin, 2007
Southeast Corner of 27 Barber Avenue, 2007
Featured is the tower topped by cast-iron cresting.; Lindsay Benjamin, 2007.
Detailed View of the Tower of 27 Barber Avenue

Other Name(s)

27 Barber Avenue

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/09/29

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Idylwyld, located at 27 Barber Avenue, is situated on the west side of the street, in the City of Guelph. This three-storey limestone building was designed with a mansard style roof and was constructed in 1880.

The property was designated by the City of Guelph for its historic and architectural value under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law 1980-10466).

Heritage Value

Idylwyld was built in 1880 by James Deare Williamson who was born in Thurso, Scotland. Williamson worked for the Golden Lion department store, eventually becoming its sole owner. Williamson was also active in the community serving as the manager of Knox Presbyterian Church in 1869 and the president of the Young Men's Christian Association in 1886.

Architect C.J. Soule was commissioned to design a house which would reflect Williamson's wealth. The design was adapted from a similar house, since destroyed, built in Montréal by Mrs. Williamson's parents. Idylwyld housed the Williamson family until 1927.

Idylwyld is said to be the best preserved home of the 1880's in Guelph and is an excellent example of the Second Empire style. It was built of local limestone and highlighted with quoins, lintels, sills, ornate wood cornices unique sashes and entrance door. The mansard roof has a distinct pattern of lines and flowers made from coloured slate shingles. The roof also features a tower topped by cast-iron cresting. A pair of stone lions flanks the entrance to the house, representing the Golden Lion store which inspired the construction of this magnificent home. A sunroom built of matching stone was added to the west elevation in the early 1930s.

City of Guelph By-law 1980-10466.; Idylwyld History, 1978.;
The Williamsons and Idylwyld, Marnie Copland, 1994.

Character-Defining Elements

Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value include its:
- association with J.D. Williamson, proprietor of the Golden Lion department store and an active community member
- design adapted from a building which was constructed by Mrs. Williamson's parents
- excellent reflection of the Second Empire style
- limestone walls of the original three-storey house including southwest, southeast and northeast elevations
- form, materials and details of the roof, cornice, tower and chimneys
- location of lift sash windows and doors
- two carved lions at the front steps.




Recognition Authority

Local Governments (ON)

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1980/01/01 to 1980/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type



Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer

C.J. Soule



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

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

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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