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Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Cawthra-Elliot Estate consists of a two-and-a-half storey brick dwelling in the Georgian tradition surrounded by former gardens and a woodlot and located just south of the Queen Elizabeth Way and east of Cawthra Road.
The estate is recognized by the City of Mississauga for its historical, architectural and contextual value in Bylaw 549-92. The surrounding woodlot is a provincially recognized and protected site due to the presence of an endangered species: the Jefferson Salamander.
The historical value of the Cawthra-Elliot Estate lies in its association with the Cawthras, one of the most powerful and wealthiest families in nineteenth century York (present day Toronto). The estate was built in 1926 for Grace Cawthra-Elliot and her husband, Colonel Harry Cawthra-Elliot. It is situated on a portion of the original 200-acre Crown grant offered to Joseph Cawthra in 1808, a Loyalist and Grace’s great-grandfather. The Cawthra family was important to the development of York. Grace's uncle, William Cawthra, was reportedly the wealthiest man in Ontario at the time of his death in 1880. The Cawthras grew in prominence through their business and financial empire in York, yet always retained farmland in Mississauga that was eventually passed down to Grace Cawthra-Elliot. Grace was proud of her Loyalist roots, and sought to design and build a traditional English countryside estate that would reflect her family's eighteenth century origins of Yorkshire, England. She referred to her estate as “Cawthra-Lotten”, because Joseph Cawthra received Lot 10, on which the house stands, as part of his 200- acre land grant. Grace lived at the Cawthra-Elliot Estate from 1926 until her death in 1974, at which point it was purchased by the City of Mississauga. It is now used for Civic purposes and the grounds are open for passive park use.
The Cawthra-Elliot residence is a fine example of the post-World War I Georgian Revivalist style, complete with five-bay front façade, a central Neo-classical door case flanked by pilasters supporting an entablature with sidelights, cornice returns and quarter-round gable windows. The exterior finish is stucco over solid brick. Renowned architect W. L. Somerville, who believed that a perfect Canadian home must descend directly from the cottages of England, designed this typical, traditional Georgian home to meet the needs of Grace Cawthra-Elliot.
The contextual significance of the Cawthra-Elliot Estate resides in the relationships between buildings, remains, woodlot and landscapes within the estate. The grounds at the Cawthra-Elliot Estate are an excellent example of early landscape architecture and garden design. Grace hired a prominent landscape architect, Edwin Kay, to design the surrounding landscape with a sense of classicism, incorporating simplicity, proportion and symmetry. Two main formal gardens dominated the site in an axial layout north and south. At the southern end of the gardens was a rectangular pool or pond edged with stone walls. Other features included a walled garden that is unique in this part of Ontario, formal walks and beds adjacent to the house, a rock garden, a greenhouse, a Lover’s Lane, a Perambulator Walk, a screened in summer house and an orchard. Although the house is the focal point of the estate, the house and landscaping are meant to work together and not to overpower one another. Many of the original landscape features have declined, and the surrounding Cawthra woodlot continues to reclaim the land.
Sources: City of Mississauaga Bylaw 549-92; Cawthra-Elliot Estate Heritage Structure Report, City of Mississauga (August 1, 1984); City of Mississauga File CS.08-CAWTHRA ROAD 1507
Character defining elements that reflect the architectural value of the Estate as a fine example of the Georgian Revivalist style include:
- rectangular composition with symmetrical window and door arrangements and a decorative emphasis on the entranceways
- two storey, gable roofed construction, with a two storey east-wing extension
- five bay front facade
- central hall plan
- twelve-over-twelve double hung sash windows with plain stone lintels and stone lugsills
- quarter round gable end windows with radiating muntins
- two internal chimneys in the main structure, one external on the east wing
Character defining elements that reflect the contextual value of the Estate as an excellent example of early landscape architecture and garden design include:
- landscape features such as the pond, network of pathways and a seating area or 'brick gazebo' in the north garden
- remains of the gardens including the walled garden and a concrete pad where the greenhouse stood
- relationship between the house, the road and the woodlot
- the surrounding woodlot
Local Governments (ON)
Ontario Heritage Act
Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)
1974/01/01 to 1974/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
- Peopling the Land
- People and the Environment
Function - Category and Type
- Nature Element
- Civic Space
Architect / Designer
William L. Somerville
Location of Supporting Documentation
Community Services, Planning and Heritage Section, City of Mississauga
Cross-Reference to Collection