John McCrae Birthplace Museum
108 Water Street
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The McCrae House, located at 108 Water Street, is situated on the southeast corner of Water Street and McCrae Boulevard in the City of Guelph. This one-and-a-half-storey limestone cottage was built in the vernacular and was constructed circa 1857.
The property was designated by the City of Guelph for its heritage significance under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law (1979)-10058).
The McCrae House is the 1872 birthplace of famous Canadian physician, soldier and poet, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae.
John McCrae joined the military as a cadet at the age of fourteen. His first experience in battle was as the company captain of the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada in the South African War. Although John was forty-one years old when the First World War began in August 1914, his sense of duty compelled him to enlist. Rather than work in relative comfort at a convalescent hospital, John chose to work in the trenches near Ypres, Belgium.
It was during the Second Battle of Ypres, after burying a young friend, that John wrote, “In Flanders Fields.” The poem captured many sentiments of the First World War and as a result of the poem the poppy became a symbol of remembrance throughout the Commonwealth.
The McCrae House is a modest limestone cottage constructed circa 1857. The property also contains a coach house and an outhouse. The structural character and details of the stone house, the porch, and the board and batten accessory building are all representative of domestic architecture in the Guelph area during the 1860s.
The McCrae House is situated on a large property surrounded by Janet McCrae's Garden, an initiative started in 1998 that created a cottage garden using plants of the 1850-1880 time period to restore the entire property to its original splendour. There are six different small gardens surrounding the home, including a kitchen garden and a spring bulb garden. Each of the six gardens greatly contributes to the overall beauty of the property. Within the gardens is a monument that was erected in memory of Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae.
Sources: City of Guelph By-law (1979)-10058; McCrae House, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, Information Brochure.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the McCrae House include the:
- use of locally-quarried limestone
- board and batten accessory building
- monument in memorial to John McCrae
- gardens surrounding the home, resembling those of the period between 1850 and 1880 in both design and composition which include the kitchen garden, the rose garden, the potager garden, the spring bulb garden, the granny garden, the stump garden, and the drying green
Local Governments (ON)
Ontario Heritage Act
Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)
1872/01/01 to 1872/01/01
1860/01/01 to 1860/01/01
1998/01/01 to 1998/01/01
1914/01/01 to 1914/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Governing Canada
- Military and Defence
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Philosophy and Spirituality
Function - Category and Type
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Guelph
Community Design and Development Services
1 Carden Street
Cross-Reference to Collection