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Pickles and packing part of the lore behind Newmarket's newest heritage house

HIstory Hound Richard MacLeod provides highlights of the once prominent local family, as well as a primer on heritage designation, following council's initial decision to designate the Charles Denne House

The future of the Charles Denne/Bosworth House is in the news this week with a move by the Town of Newmarket to designate the property as historic —  a move that the owner resisted. At yesterday’s  committee of the whole meeting, council voted to proceed with the designation — a decision that needs to be finalized at a council meeting.

The name Denne was prominent in Newmarket for more than three-quarters of a century. Vincent Denne, the patriarch, came here in 1854, and operated a butcher shop for 16 years on Main Street (where Sport & Cycle Shop was once located) until it was destroyed in the fire of 1870. 

Denne then went into the milling business, renting first the Lukes mill on Huron Street (Davis Drive), then the Red Mill in Holland Landing. 

Charles Denne, son of Vincent, operated a packing company, servicing the country with a wagon and team of horses, buying butter and eggs and meat by the carcass. The eggs were packed, and the meat was cured here in the Newmarket plant, then shipped by rail car to distant centres like New York. 

An article from the Newmarket Era in 1901 tells us that the Denne packing house shipped eggs to the Old Country and handled 75 tons of pickles a year. The Denne Pickle Factory, which is part of Newmarket lore, was just west of Main and north of Huron, with huge vats of cucumbers curing. The building was later moved to Huron Street at the corner of Vincent Street, named after Vincent Denne. 

Other prominent family members included William, who operated a feed store where the Bank of Montreal was located on Main, and who could forget Evelyn Denne who taught in the Newmarket school system for what seemed forever.

The Denne family members were great patrons of Newmarket. The beautiful chapel erected in 1931 that at one time crowned the high land at the centre of the cemetery, was a memorial to the late Charles Denne who had been a moving force in bringing the cemetery to its attractive state.

The tablet interpreting the inspiration of this memorial was placed to the left of the east door of the chapel.

In my article on Newmarket’s street names, I wrote about how Charles Denne had been honoured with a street named after him, Denne Boulevard, in recognition of his many contributions to community life. There is also a Denne Park in town. 

Denne Bosworth,  a subsequent owner of the Charles Denne House, has a street ― Bosworth Court — named after him for his work in the town’s administration.

There is also a Denne Public School just off London Road.

For information about heritage designation under the provincial mandate, you may want to read my column of July 2019 (45 Newmarket properties officially designated as heritage), which outlines the designation process and explaining how the town, under the auspices of the Ontario Heritage Act, determines which properties should be designated and the steps that must be taken.  

The criteria for designation under clause 29 (1a) of the Ontario Heritage states a property may be designated if it meets one or more of the following criteria as to whether it is of cultural heritage value or interest.

1. The property has design value or physical value because it,

  • is a rare, unique, representative, or early example of a style, type, expression, material or construction method;
  • displays a high degree of craftsmanship or artistic merit or;
  • demonstrates a high degree of technical or scientific achievement.

 2. The property has historical value or associative value because it,

  • had direct associations with a theme, event, belief, person, activity, organization, or institution that is significant to a community; 
  • yields, or had the potential to yield, information that constitutes to an understanding of a community or culture or;
  • demonstrates or reflects the work or ideas of an architect, artist, builder, designer, or theorist who is significant to a community.

3.  The property has contextual value because it,

  • 1. is important in defining, maintaining, or supporting the character of the area;
  • 2. is physically, functionally, visually, or historically linked to its surroundings or;
  • 3. is a landmark under 0. Reg. 9/06, s. 1 (2).

Within Newmarket, 45 properties are currently designated under the act, along with about 100 properties within the Main Street heritage conservation district. 

This bylaw describes the specific heritage attributes that give the property its heritage value (design/physical, contextual/natural, historical/associative). It is designed to protect those identified heritage attributes through the requirement for permits before any work can begin. 

It also allows council to prevent demolition of a building on a designated property. A property owner can always appeal council’s decision to the LPAT.  It is also intended to ensure that designated properties are being maintained (the property standards bylaw).

Designation does not prevent the redevelopment of a property if it is done within the designation criteria as documented.

The Town of Newmarket maintains two lists, one containing properties that have already been designated and a second one for properties of interest. The Charles Denne House sits on this second list.

The town’s consultants, Archaeological Research Associates Ltd., determined the property conforms to several of the criteria above and recommended designation, which councillors accepted yesterday. 

When the property is designated, it will be placed on the municipal register, the official listing of Newmarket Heritage Properties, and the property will also be placed on the provincial register, called the Ontario Heritage Trust.

The property is officially known as the Charles Denne House, although many of us know it as the Denne Bosworth House. Located at 415 Davis Dr., its legal address is Plan #78, Lots 17 and 18.  It was constructed in 1904 and added to the town’s heritage register in 1987 by LACAC.  The property is currently plaqued.   

While properties that are designated generally have a plaque, the existence of a plaque on a property does not mean a property has been designated. This is the case for the Charles Denne House.

When it was added to the registry, it was described as a two-storey red brick residence on a cut limestone foundation with a slated, two-gable roof. It has two-storey bays on street facades with limestone lintels and wrap-around verandas. This type of design was once prevalent in town but has slowly disappeared.

It’s good news that this piece of our heritage — which appears to be in good shape, having been renovated recently — will not be put in jeopardy. 

Sources: The History of Newmarket by Ethel Trewhella; The Newmarket Era. The Town of Newmarket’s planning department, Heritage Ontario


Newmarket resident Richard MacLeod, the History Hound, has been a local historian for more than 40 years. He writes a weekly feature about our town's history in partnership with Newmarket Today, conducts heritage lectures and walking tours of local interest, and leads local oral history interviews.

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About the Author: Richard MacLeod

Newmarket resident Richard MacLeod — the History Hound — has been a local historian for more than 40 years
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