Historic gem to be designed in coming years
The City-owned MacMillan Farm property is a hidden jewel of Ward 4 and the City of Vaughan plans to polish this gem into an urban agricultural parkland with many features for Vaughan citizens. This property is currently occupied and closed for public use, however, a Master Plan study for the property is planned to be undertaken in future years. The City proposes to create a sustainable green space that provides cultural, recreational and educational opportunities for residents and visitors.
Located on the east side of Dufferin Street and south of Major Mackenzie Drive east, the property is 24.7 acres (10 ha.) in size and is surrounded by 135 acres (56 ha.) of Nature Conservancy of Canada lands. It was previously owned by the MacMillan family and was purchased by Vaughan in 2011. The City plans to maintain and protect the two historical houses while creating opportunities that promote active living and healthy physical, social and educational development of all ages.
The design will incorporate themes of nature, food, agriculture, heritage, tourism and education and the goal is to enhance awareness and the appreciation of the environment.
Property designs will combine parklands and urban agricultural elements together. This could include:
- Picnic shelters and picnic tables
- Junior and senior children’s playgrounds
- City-led summer camp programs
- Urban garden plots
- Community compost exchange
A landmark in Vaughan’s history, the MacMillan Farm property is a site of early settlement in the City. Two historical houses remain on the property – the William Cook and the Valentine Keffer Houses.
If approved, the future of the land will create opportunities for partnerships with organization associated with urban farming while maintaining the land’s natural heritage and character. The City wants the MacMillan Farm to become an inviting green space for all Vaughan residents to appreciate and enjoy.
The MacMillan Farm History
The property was originally owned by William Cook, an early immigrant from England in 1831 that played an important role in the development of the area. Cook served as the community’s deputy reeve and was on the town Council from 1861-63.
William Cook built a two-storey house for his family in 1847. Descendants of Cook lived on the property until 1936 when it was purchased by Robert and Lyn MacMillan to be used as a country retreat. Lyn MacMillan was the daughter of Lloyd George, Prime Minister of England from 1916-22. The MacMillan family donated a large portion of their land to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and it is now known as the MacMillan Nature Preserve.
As for the Keffer house, it was once owned by Valentine Keffer, a descendent of Michael Keffer, one of the founders of the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church. The main block of the house was built around 1843 with additions added between 1865 and 1872. The MacMillans relocated the house from the historic Village of Maple to the property in 1878, where it was used as a guest cottage.
The William Cook House and the Valentine Keffer House are now protected under the Ontario Heritage Act (OHA).
If you are interested in knowing more about the MacMillan Farm property, please contact the City of Vaughan’s Parks Development department.
Take a look at the pictures I captured of the wonderful MacMillian Farm: