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Buxton Settlement National Historic Site of Canada

Buxton, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1999/05/04

Buxton Settlement Pear Tree – site of the first Homecoming Picnic in 1924; Parks Canada | Parcs Canada
Buxton Settlement Pear Tree, 1998
E.A. Richardson British Methodist Episcopal Church and its cemetery; Parks Canada | Parcs Canada
E.A. Richardson BME Church and its cemetery, 1998
Original house, 1998; Parks Canada | Parcs Canada
Original house, 1998

Other Name(s)

Buxton Settlement National Historic Site of Canada
Buxton Settlement
Établissement Buxton
Elgin Settlement
Établissement Elgin

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2004/06/04

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Buxton Settlement National Historic Site of Canada is a cultural landscape of some 4,680 hectares. It is a primarily agricultural landscape, comprised of flat, worked fields defined by deep drainage ditches and a grid of intersecting roads. Homesteads are scattered throughout the settlement area including its two hamlets, South and North Buxton, which also contain important religious, educational and cultural institutions associated with the settlement's founding by Underground Railroad refugees.

Heritage Value

Buxton Settlement National Historic Site of Canada was designated because:

- this cultural landscape, through the retention of land-use patterns and built resources, speaks to the successful realization of the block or planned refugee settlement in Canada;
- the cultural landscape continues as a living memorial to its founders and to the courage of every Underground Railroad refugee who took their life in their hands and chose Canada as their home.

The heritage value of this site resides in the site's illustration of a successful Underground Railroad refugee block settlement through the survival of land-use patterns and associated built resources.

Established as the Elgin Settlement at Buxton, Ontario, the Buxton Settlement survives today as a distinct cultural landscape, one that continues to function as a community while preserving tangible survivals from its historic past. It was founded in 1849 by Irish Presbyterian Minister, Reverend William King and 15 former American slaves who, with other Underground Railroad (UGRR) refugees and abolitionists, purchased a 4,680 hectare tract of land as a joint stock company. Settlers cleared the land and established farms on 50-acre (202,342 square metre) plots which they purchased over time. By 1859, the settlement reached its peak population of over 1,000 residents served by three integrated schools, two temperance hotels, a general store, a post office, a sawmill, a brickyard, a grist mill and a pearlash factory. In 1873, its objectives achieved, the company was disbanded but the community survived.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minute, March 1998; Commemorative Integrity Statement, 2002.

Character-Defining Elements

Elements which characterize the heritage value of the Buxton Settlement as an UGRR block settlement include:

- the agricultural land-use patterns expressed through open spaces with field plots demarcated by hedgerows, lilies, tree lines, or differing planting patterns and remnants of the original planned settlement seen in surviving 50-acre (20.2 hectares) plots
- the road grid following originally surveyed north-south roads and east-west concession lines
- the settlement nodes of North and South Buxton characterized by low-density, small-scale housing and modest institutional buildings set amongst outbuildings, lawns, and trees
- scattered homesteads along roadways
- scattered woodlots
- system of drainage ditches parallelling the road grid
- graveyards and cemeteries associated with churches and/or homesteads
- surviving landscape elements including North Buxton mill pond, archaeological remnants of former industrial buildings, the first railway line, tramway and lakeshore loading site
- the sentinel Pear Tree associated with traditional homecoming in North Buxton

Built Resources: Churches
- rectangular massing under front-gabled, pitched roof
- wood-frame construction
- open plan
- minimal decorative elaboration
- steeple and Freedom Bell at St. Andrew's United Church.

Built Resources: Houses
- modest scale
- vernacular design and craftsmanship
- predominance of wood construction materials
- survival of original one-and-a-half-storey, four-room Ontario cottage (two-up, two-down) of log or frame construction with 30 foot (9.14 metre) setback from the road.

Built Resources: Former Raleigh Schoolhouse #13
- rectangular massing under front-gabled, pitched roof
- wood-frame construction and sheathing
- open plan with cloak room.

Built resources: Former Railway Station
- rectangular, single-storey massing
- wood-frame construction.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Peopling the Land

Function - Category and Type




Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Indigenous Affairs and Cultural Heritage Directorate Documentation Centre 3rd Floor, room 366 30 Victoria Street Gatineau, Québec J8X 0B3

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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