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Visiting Eldon House, London, Ontario: Dating from 1834, Fine Architectural Heritage Named for a Reactionary Jurist

Updated on April 30, 2020
Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
Eldon House is a museum featuring 19th century period mansion and gardens.
Eldon House is a museum featuring 19th century period mansion and gardens. | Source

A sedate, historic property

[This visit occurred a number of years ago.]

With its gardens, Eldon House (1), London, Ontario, is a fine piece of architectural and historical heritage. Its first owner, Royal Navy Captain John Harris, so admired a jurist with a reactionary reputation — Lord Chancellor, The 1st Earl of Eldon who opposed the 1832 Reform Bill — that he named his family property for him.

The house subsequently remained a family property until 1959, when it was turned over to to the City of London, which made it a museum. Today, for Londoners the property is a prized, very significant visitor attraction.

John Harris had a quite satisfactory military career, from the standpoint of being regarded as 'safe' by the British authorities in Upper Canada, as Ontario was formerly called; and tended to move in Loyalist circles; his wife Amelia Ryerse was from a prominent Loyalist family. He served as Treasurer of the London District. Harris's evident persuasion and mindset — the preservation of privilege on the basis of Loyalism — were not unusual in early 19th century Upper Canada; it may be said, also, that if such a mindset had not been transcended by those in authority, the measure of conciliation inherent in the creation of the United Province of Canada in 1841 and in Confederation in 1867 would never have occurred vis-a-vis Lower Canada / Canada East / Quebec.

The gardens of Eldon House are now named for the Harris family.

Features of the Regency / Georgian building include two main storeys, with further attic windows, entrance pillars, a typical Colonial veranda and a conspicuous fanlight window at the entrance topped by a small pediment. This fanlight window forms the pattern basis of a logo used by the museum. An extension to Eldon House was created in 1877.

Although Eldon House was certainly not the first house in London, it is currently the oldest house to have survived, giving it its historical importance.

The gardens have been preserved and restored according to expert advice from the Universities of Western Ontario and Guelph, with a view to representing their 19th century state. Originally the plot extended to 45,000 square metres (2), since reduced. The format includes multiple lawns, a terraced walk and a rock garden. At various times of the year flowers include climbing rose, chrysanthemum, dahlia, iris, hyacinth, and very many others.

Eldon House is situated at 481 Ridout Street, London, Ontario.

April 30, 2020


(1) See also:

(2) The original idea was for the property to extend to the banks of the Thames River.

Some sourcing: Wikipedia

Also worth seeing

In London itself, other buildings of note and visitor attractions include: St Paul's Cathedral, The Armouries and the Middlesex County Court building, the Fanshawe Pioneer Village, and many others.


How to get there: Air Canada flies to London International Airport, from Toronto Pearson Airport, from where there are wide North American and other connections. Car rental is available at London International Airport. VIA Rail serves London , connecting with Windsor and Toronto, and other cities. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Contact is advised with appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada

Map location of London, Ontario
Map location of London, Ontario | Source

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