In 200 years, the Bovaird House property has seen many changes. From acres of rural farmland to massive urban sprawl, Brampton has grown from a village to a thriving city.
Peter Renwick Chisolm and FamilyInitially a large acreage, the property was granted to Mr. John Silverthorn of Great Britain in 1819. The land was farmed, and a rough log cabin constructed. Silverthorn returned to England after only a few years.
He sold the property to Mr. Peter Chisholm Sr., a successful baker and farmer from new York City in 1821. After the Land Grant was registered, Chisolm rented the property to a neighbour, returned to New York and came back around 1831 with his family.
Around 1852, Chisholm Sr. and his family constructed the home that stands today. It is an excellent example of a Georgian-style Canadian farmhouse, with its symmetrical design, and nine bay window frontage. The large farm kitchen and “summer kitchen” were added to the back of the house approximately 10 years later. Peter Chisholm’s pioneer spirit can be seen in the unique bake ovens and pantries he incorporated into the home.
The house passed down to Peter Chisholm Sr.’s eldest son (Peter Renwick Chisholm) who in turn passed the house and grounds on to his three children. Peter Renwick Chisholm’s children never lived in the house, but rented it to local families during the early 1900s.
In 1929, Mr. James Bovaird purchased the property. With eleven children of their own, he and his wife did not occupy the house, but continued to rent it out, using the grounds for breeding world-class thoroughbred horses.
Bovaird House passed down to James’ son, William Bovaird, after whom Brampton’s major street, BovairdWilliam and Mosie Bovaird Drive is named. William also raised horses; he was the Reeve of Chinguacousy Township throughout the 1940s, and a respected Roads Superintendent for 20 years. He and his beloved wife, Mossie (who had been a local schoolteacher) were the first Bovairds to actually live in the farmhouse. They updated the home, introducing 20th century conveniences such as electricity, indoor plumbing, and a furnace.
William and Mossie Bovaird lived at Bovaird House from the 1940s until the 1980s. During that time, the surrounding area underwent substantial urban development. The couple became determined to preserve their home and property as historical landmarks for future generations to enjoy. With no children of their own, William and Mossie formed a “surviving member” agreement, whereby the home would eventually be donated to the City of Brampton.
In 1985, following William’s death, Mossie Bovaird sold the house and its surrounding property to the City for the token sum of two dollars. Worth several millions of dollars, this was an astonishingly generous bequest to Brampton and its residents. (Mrs. Bovaird never cashed the cheque, and it remains, framed, on display at Bovaird House.)
The official dedication of Historic Bovaird House took place on June 27, 1990. Since then, the site has been maintained by “The Friends of Historic Bovaird House,” a volunteer committee responsible for the restoration of the home. Initially left a bare and empty farmhouse, volunteers have lovingly restored Bovaird House to its original appearance, circa 1850 – 1900. A visit to the home reveals hundreds of authentic and fascinating period artifacts, including: furniture, costumes, china and silverware, books, tools, pictures, toys, linens, looms, domestic items, and even a one-horse open sleigh (jingle bells included!)
The present-day Historic Bovaird House operates as a local museum and nostalgic venue for many seasonal events. It is operated completely by volunteers who give tours, organize fund-raising, and continue to furnish the house with antique items, and maintain the property with the help of your donations.
We think William and Mossie Bovaird would be proud!
Please plan a visit to Historic Bovaird House soon to enjoy this extraordinary Brampton legacy in person!
The House is open Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 12:00 – 4:00 pm from Mid-February to mid-December.
Check our website for ongoing Special Events.
Click on Volunteers if you’re interested in joining us.