Stoneleigh (225 Waterloo Avenue), has a rich history associated with some of Guelph’s finest citizens and skilled trades. We are proud to be stewards of its heritage.
One of the features that sold us on the house was the plasterwork. Between 1973 and 2017, it was home to George Hewson and his family. Hewson was a skilled, award-winning plasterer, whose work is found throughout the home. Crown mouldings, medallions, coved ceilings and even the shape of the lathe & plaster walls, is a credit to his skill. He was obviously proud of his work, as he signed and dated much of it, as any artist would do.
As we continue to peel back the layers, the beauty and craftsmanship within Stoneleigh continues to reveal itself. Let’s take a journey back in time …
As he entered the newly-founded town of Guelph, its founder — John Galt — envisioned a grand allee from the west. He ordered the construction of the Huron Road by the Canada Company to open up colonization. Access to Guelph early in its fledgling years was through Hespeler, before York Road (to the east) and the Dundas Road (to the south) were later constructed. Read more about the opening of the Huron Road.
Galt described Waterloo Avenue thusly:
“I desired the woodmen to open one of the projected streets, and they effected a clearing, greater than the avenue in Kensington Gardens, the trees much larger, in an hour and ten minutes.”
Waterloo Avenue was later described as, “a glade, opened through the forest, about seven miles in length, upwards of one hundred and thirty feet in width, forming an avenue, with trees on each side far exceeding in height the most stupendous in England. The high road to the town lay along the middle of this Babylonian approach, which was cut so wide to admit the sun and air, and was intended to be fenced of the usual breadth, the price of the land contiguous to be such as to defray the expense of the clearing. In America, the timber felled in inland places is burnt off, and the wrecks of the forest in this ” arborous vast ” underwent the process. But the imagination forbears when it would attempt to depict the magnificent effect of the golden sun shining through the colossal vista of smoke and flames ;—the woodmen dimly seen moving in ” the palpable obscure “, with their axes glancing along in the distance. A Yankee post-boy who once drove me to Guelph, on emerging from the dark and savage wood, looked behind in astonishment as we entered the opening, and clapping his hands with delight, exclaimed ” What an Almighty place !”
Fast forward. Guelph is blessed with plentiful dolomite limestone for building material (and groundwater), part of a larger geological system known as the “Guelph Formation”. The easily-quarried quality and quantity to local limestone resulted in numerous quarries being developed adjacent to Waterloo Avenue, the largest being the Guelph Limestone (also known as DoLime) quarry outside the city limits. In the 1850s, the land where Stoneleigh was built was part of Guelph Township (the city boundary was Edinburgh Road) and owned by David Kennedy, a quarry owner and master stonemason. Kennedy was also the owner of Guelph Limestone.
As the city grew in the 1860s and 70s, the lots were subdivided and given a municipal address. The lot at 225 Waterloo Avenue is Plan 330, Lot 42. The registered owner was J.T. Cunningham in 1862.
In the 1877 map below, Cunningham is still registered as the owner, and there is no house on the lot.
In 1900, Richard Cunningham further divided his remaining lands by registering Plan 330, creating Lot 42 (Stoneleigh). The owner of Lot 42 at the time of subdivision was Duncan Cameron.