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Stickwood Walker house a heritage tribute to founding family

In this week's Remember This?, History Hound Richard MacLeod highlights the story of an historic property in the news this week

An historic property in the news this week is the Stickwood Walker farm, located on Mulock Drive, just east of Leslie Street on the south side.

This one-and-a-half storey Gothic Revival house is constructed of grey/white brick and rests on a stone rubble foundation. Over the years, it has had a number of names; the William Stickwood House, Fernbank Farms and the Stickwood Walker House. The William Stickwood House was built in 1885 as an upgrade to the original 1830 Bogart family home that stood on the site.

It should be noted the Stickwood family was important in the development of Newmarket as the only local manufacturer of bricks. You can read more about the Stickwood Brickyard here..

Briefly, Issac Stickwood, his wife and family came to America from Cambridgeshire, England by ship in the spring of 1857, landing in New York. They came to Toronto by way of Albany, New York.

He spent two years working at the Davisville Brick Yard and then moved to Newmarket, where he purchased the Srigley Street property for his business in the original downtown core of Newmarket. This brickyard supplied construction material for many buildings in Newmarket and the surrounding area in the 19th century.

He made his first kiln of bricks in 1860 and continued until 1871, when he turned over the business to his eldest son, William, born in 1847, who carried on the business until 1886.

The brickyard was subsequently taken over in 1890 by a younger brother, Charles Stickwood, who carried on the business until the autumn of 1917 when the decision was made to close the brickyard due to the scarcity of hardwood for firing the kilns; and probably due to increased competition from the coke-fired kilns in Toronto.

William purchased the Stickwood farm at Bogarttown in 1885, where his granddaughter, Mrs. William Walker (Frances Stickwood), lived until the Town of Newmarket purchased the property in 2003.

On June 15, 1998, the William Stickwood House was designated by the Town for its heritage value. It was also added to the designated register of Canada on Jan. 18, 2008.

When Stickwood purchased the site, it had a one-storey wooden structure that still remains next to the 1885 structure that he built. This wooden tail-wing, which extends east of the main portion of the residence, was constructed for the previous owners of the farm, the Bogarts, founders of Bogarttown.

The building is an excellent example of a Gothic Revival farmhouse, with a four-bay façade and “T”-shaped floor plan in which the tail-wing extends to the south. All the windows are two-over-two double hung sash with arched brick toppers and louvered shutters. The roof of the house is cross-gabled and above the front windows there is a central gable. The principal entrance on the southwest side is sheltered by a single-storey enclosed veranda. One large chimney also adorns the farmhouse, on the east elevation.

All of these are the character-defining elements that illustrate the heritage value of the Stickwood Walker house, which remains a monument to the Stickwood family and their importance in the development of Newmarket.

You may remember that the barn, which was located on the property when the Town purchased it, was destroyed by fire. A fund was established by Ernie Crossland to replace the barn, the idea being that a similar barn, bought in situ, and moved to the Fernbank site would be a heritage must.  

Another barn of the same vintage, on the site, would provide an opportunity for our farming heritage to be explored. Unfortunately, the restoration never took place as sadly Mr. Crossland passed, and the project was dropped.    

When it initially purchased the property, the Town considered developing this facility as part of a larger development surrounding the historic Fernbank Farm site. It built the Magna Centre recreation facility, which, with its stone walls and folded metal roof, is a modern vestige of the agricultural history of the site.

The site is connected to local trails and rainwater feeds a naturalized stormwater management pond immediately to the west. The Magna Centre, which was opened on Aug. 10, 2005, has four ice surfaces, an eight-lane 25-metre recreational/competition pool with viewing gallery, gymnasium and multi-purpose rooms.

Currently, there are plans to lease the property to a daycare, Denison Child Care Services, which intends to construct an adjacent building on the property. There would be meeting space within the restored farmhouse for local non-profits. At the Heritage Newmarket Committee meeting, they indicated that the farmhouse’s exterior is being protected and all care is being taken to preserve this gem for posterity.

I trust that this short article has provided you with some background on the property and that when they refer to the Stickwood Walker property, you will have a little knowledge of the subject. 

Sources: The History of Newmarket by Ethel Trewhella; Stories of Newmarket by Terrence Carter; The Newmarket Era, Conversations with Paul Millard and Athol Hart, Heritage Newmarket, Town of Newmarket heritage designation By-law 1998-59, June 15, 1998 and Heritage Newmarket file: 896 Mulock Drive, Heritage Committee Meeting 4 June 2019, Bogarttown: An Early Village in Upper Canada by Malcolm Watts, Municipal Registry of Designated Properties under the Heritage Act compiled by Heritage Newmarket Advisory Committee.

******** brings you this weekly feature about our town's history in partnership with Richard MacLeod, the History Hound, a local historian for more than 40 years. He conducts heritage lectures and walking tours of local interest, as well as leads local oral history interviews. You can contact the History Hound at [email protected].