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McGregor-Cowan House

3118 Sandwich Street, Windsor, Ontario, N9C, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1977/10/03

Georgian-style home with rare French-Canadian chimney arrangement.; City of Windsor, Nancy Morand
McGregor-Cowan House, Front Facade, 2002
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Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1806/01/01 to 1808/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/02/03

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Built c. 1808, the McGregor-Cowan House is a 2-1/2 storey Georgian-style timber dwelling prominently sited in the historic former town of Sandwich, now part of west Windsor. It is recognized for its heritage value by City of Windsor Bylaw 5814, 1977.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the McGregor-Cowan House lies in its age, architectural features, location and association with historic events.

Research indicates the McGregor-Cowan House (c. 1808) is the second oldest building in Windsor, after the Duff-Baby House built in 1798. The property was part of a land grant from the Crown at the turn of the century, and merchant James McGregor was the first owner of the house. A rare surviving example of a fine Georgian-style home from the early 1800s, its simplicity, symmetry and solidity are representative of Georgian design. It also displays a very infrequent Ontario example of a unique French-Canadian chimney arrangement, where each chimney worked independently to heat a separate half of the house.

Situated at the easterly entrance to the historic former town of Sandwich, the house recalls the community's early years as an important centre of trade and government. The oldest continuous European settlement west of Montreal, Sandwich was chosen to serve as the seat of government of the Western District of Upper Canada in 1796 and was an important battleground during the War of 1812 between Great Britain and the United States.

There is also heritage value in the building’s association with John Cowan, who purchased the house in the 1830s. From the house, Cowan published “The Canadian Emigrant", the Western District’s first regular newspaper. As well, the house was used as an officers’ quarters for local militia and British soldiers during the Rebellions of 1837.

Source: Building Analysis Form, Dec. 15, 1997, and City of Windsor Bylaw 5814, 1977.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the building's heritage value as an early example of a fine Georgian house include:
- balanced symmetrical facade, solidity, simplicity of form,and minimal detailing;
- sturdy central door with relatively plain transom and sidelights;
- timber framing with covered clapboard on a stone foundation; and,
- shuttered, 6-over-6 sash windows, some with original hand-blown panes.

Key architectural value is also embodied in the unique French-Canadian chimney arrangement on the lateral gable roof:
- two brick chimneys, one on either side of the ridge at opposite ends of the roof, worked independently to warm separate halves of the house.

Key elements that express the building’s locational value include:
- prominent siting on a large corner lot at the easterly entrance to the historic former town of Sandwich; and
- the building’s proximity to other significant heritage properties including the Duff-Baby House, 1798 and Mackenzie Hall, 1855.




Recognition Authority

Local Governments (ON)

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type


Commerce / Commercial Services
Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Single Dwelling


Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Office of Heritage Planner, City of Windsor

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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