John Guardhouse Era, 1860 – 1878

John Gardhouse Era  1860-1878

General Store built by John Gardhouse circa 1875.
Hannah Gardhouse
  • In 1860, John Gardhouse bought the grist mill, the store, the house and all other mill-related property from Edward Lawson 1. In some documents, Gardhuse is written ‘Guardhouse’
  • John was 32, married to Harriet Bell and together they had three children.  Another five followed
  • The 1861 census records described him as a miller and a merchant 2
  • By 1870, the mill was producing 125 barrels of flour a day in addition to doing custom business.  Full flour barrels weighing 196 pounds each were transported by horse-drawn wagons or ‘teamed’, 10 barrels to a wagon, through the freight network that John Gardhouse created to serve the mill and service his store 3
  • Through this network, Gardhouse effectively controlled most of the incoming and outgoing freight needs of the Bolton community
  • All of this changed with the arrival of the Toronto Grey & Bruce Railway in December 1870.  By 1871, regular train service was scheduled twice daily to Toronto 4The original railway track bed formed what is now Ellwood Drive
  • This was a period of significant growth and prosperity, spawned by the productivity of the surrounding Albion Township agricultural sector
  • John organized a leasehold arrangement with station master Bryan Dowling for a grain elevator which was built on the railway lands in the vicinity of the railway station
  • Along with his multiple business ventures, John also served on the newly incorporated Village Council in 1873
  • In 1875, he contracted George Watson, a local contractor and builder, to first construct a magnificent brick general store on the east side of Queen Street.  The store was adjacent to the former frame store, just below Mill Street, which Gardhouse had operated since 1860
  • In 1876, John again contracted George Watson to build a large brick home along what is now King Street East, backing onto the Humber River 5
  • But tragedy struck with John Gardhouse’s sudden death in 1878 at the age of 50.  He left his wife Hannah and their large family 6
  • Hannah was left to cope with the pressures of multiple businesses until 1881 when she was able to sell the mill to Andrew McFall and the general store to James Clarke 7


And the buildings?

  • The 1875 Gardhouse Store still stands at 49 Queen St North.  It was re-bricked in white brick in the 1960s, what was thankfully a short-lived trend.  The large storefront is modern
  • The mill owner’s home at 83 King Street East is the heritage designated Gardhouse-Goodfellow House.  It replaced the large frame house built by James Bolton Jr.

  1. Abstract Index to Deeds, Albion Township, reels A&B, Region of Peel Archives at PAMA
  2. Census Records 1861, Albion Township
  4. Thomas McIlwraith, History of the TG&B Railway,
  5. Town of Caledon Heritage Designation Report for 83 King Street East, compiled by Heather G. Broadbent
  6.  Peel County Death certificate #011115
  7. Abstract Index to Deeds, ibid.