Exploring Country Heritage Park

Clark-McCleary House, rear elevation

Photo: Clark-McCleary House, rear elevation


Kiki Aravopoulos

Buildings and architecture, Community

Published Date: Feb 15, 2007

In March 2006, the Ontario Heritage Trust acquired a cultural conservation easement on Country Heritage Park. Located in Milton, this designed heritage attraction was created to preserve representative forms of rural and agricultural history. With just over 70 structures on the site, the park tells the story of 175 years of rural life and food production in Ontario. Country Heritage Park is a significant property. Forty three heritage resources are protected on site – 39 built structures and four cultural landscapes – the most ever protected in Ontario by a single conservation easement.

Set against the backdrop of the Niagara Escarpment, a world biosphere reserve, Country Heritage Park is also adjacent to the Kelso Conservation Area. The buildings are spread out over 80 acres (32.4 hectares) of pastoral land linked through winding gravel roads and footpaths. The structures protected include: barns, homesteads, steam engines, windmills, a town hall and a church. The site also boasts a rich collection of farm equipment, antique tractors and rural life artifacts.

The buildings range from simple rustic structures to modern and more elaborate designs. The oldest structure at the park is the modest Clark-McCleary House – a first-generation pioneer log cabin built around 1830. The Snelgrove Newman Barn’s loose log assembly is typical of simple pioneer structures, while the large steel-framed Wachter-Riley Barn is representative of the prefabricated barns common during the 1930s.

None of the heritage resources were built on site. They were moved to the park from their original locations across southern Ontario and arranged as artifacts in a museum-style display by the Ontario Agricultural Museum. Some are clustered to depict streetscapes reminiscent of Ontario’s once-common villages and hamlets. The four re-created cultural landscapes also help the visitor understand the character of the historic agricultural traditions.

The Lucas House landscape – featuring three barns, a drive shed, outhouse and various animal sheds spread out over a gently sloping topography and boasting scenic views of the escarpment – is the most complete and picturesque of the protected farmsteads. In the centre of the complex is Lucas House, built circa 1832. Its symmetrical elevations, double-hung windows and large veranda with gingerbread fretwork and decorative wood columns make it one of the most elaborate structures on the site. It represents the second stage of historic, post-European contact farms in southern Ontario and has been meticulously restored to its mid-19th-century appearance.

Country Heritage Park is a unique experience. It tells the complete story of farm life in Ontario from the beginning of the 19th century to the modern day. This large, diverse and authentic collection of rural and agricultural heritage resources is unmatched in Ontario and rivals any in North America.

Take a step back in time by exploring Country Heritage Park. For more information, visit