Visiting Ajax, Ontario: Rural Gothic Revival architecture, at Post Hill House
Gracious lines of a Victorian dwelling
This rather pleasing house at 132 Kingston Road West is the sole surviving example in Ontario's Town of Ajax of Rural Gothic Revival.
19th century background
'Rural' it certainly was in what is now Ajax: previously, the town of Pickering was more extensive — both eastward and westward — than it is today. But in the mid-19th century, the site on which Post Hill House stands was both geographically and psychologically distant from Downtown Toronto.
History of the house
So when Post Hill House was built in 1855, it was, as now, close to Kingston Road, then a significant — though sometimes challenging — rural artery eastwards from Ontario's capital, but it was essentially a gracious dwelling in a rural setting. The house was built by George Washington Post II — hence the word 'Post' in the house's name — with the apparent assistance of a brother with architectural knowledge.
Post and his wife had a niece, Olive Nash Avery, who inherited the house, but after her death at the end of the 19th century the house was sold to Thomas Field, who moved his family here from a farm on Duffin's Creek. The house remained in the possession of the Field family for nearly a century.
Name of the house
It is sometimes referred to by the name of this family also: Post Hill Field House.
However, the commemorative plaque erected in 1993 refers to it simply by the older name, which also bears historic reference to the original owner.
'Doors Open Ajax'
Although Post Hill House is not a regular museum, the public have been allowed to visit the house. This occurred in connection with the Town of Ajax's 'Doors Open Ajax' event in September 2010, over which the Town's Mayor Parish presided.
The idea of this initiative was for local people and visitors to have the opportunity to become better acquainted with various of the local area's more familiar and distinguished landmarks, and thus Post Hill House was chosen to participate.
Also worth visiting
McKay House, Ajax (distance: 2.2 kilometres) this structure, dating from 1854, is the only 2 story fieldstone house still in existence in Ajax. It is sometimes known also as Charnacy, named for the original owner's Scottish birthplace.
Pickering Museum Village , Greenwood (distance: approx. 9.5 kilometres), situated on the banks of Duffins Creek , contains various of interesting, heritage buildings, including a Temperance Hotel, a General Store, a number of barns, a blacksmith's and woodworking shop, Redman House, a Bible Christian Chapel, and a Gift Shop.
Parkwood, Oshawa (distance: 20.1 kilometres); this remarkable, stately home is open to the public. Once the home of founder of General Motors of Canada, Colonel Sam McLaughlin, its spacious grounds and distinct, pillared portico are a local landmark.
How to get there: Air Canada, flies to Toronto Pearson Airport, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. (Distance from Toronto Pearson Airport to Ajax: 55.8 kilometres). GO Train operates a service between Union Station, Toronto and Ajax. Highway 401 gives easy road access to Ajax. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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