Cruickston Park

Cruickston Park Lane, North Dumfries near Cambridge, Ontario

Rebuilt in 1858 for the English-born Matthew Wilks (1816-1899), of New York City, and his American wife, Eliza Astor Langdon (1818-1896), grand-daughter of John Jacob Astor. Wilks was born to British parents and not quite fitting in with the New York set he was on the look out for a summer home in British Canada. Having seen the Cruickston estate advertised for sale in the New York papers, he immediately bought the mansion designed by the celebrated architect Detlef Lienau along with its 200-acres. He transformed the mansion into the house seen today and he also enlarged the estate to its present size of 966-acres. Whether coincidental or not, Cruickston Park bears a distinct similarity to Bulstrode Park in England. Though Cruickston is smaller and less elaborate, unusually it is the North American house that predates the English house....

This house is best associated with...

Matthew Wilks

Matthew Wilks, of Cruikston Park, Gait, Ontario; and, New York City


Eliza (Langdon) Wilks

Mrs Eliza Astor (Langdon) Wilks


Katherine Langdon Wilks

Miss K.L. Wilks, of Cruickston Park, Ontario; died unmarried


Matthew Wilks Keefer

Matthew Wilks Keefer, of Cruikston Park, near Cambridge, Ontario


It became well-known for producing prize-winning horses under the ownership of his daughter, Katherine Langdon Wilks. After Miss Wilks died in 1948, her nephew, Matthew Wilks Keefer, modernized the farm and it became known for breeding prize Hereford cattle. In 1968, he willed the estate to the University of Guelph who took possession on his death five years later (1973). In 1996, the university sold the manor and 53 of its surrounding acres to a young couple from Cambridge, Jan Chaplin and Mark Fretwurst, who went on to acquire the other 913-acres four years later. Their ambition is to preserve the estate for future generations. The Tudor-style manor house is a popular movie location, seen in Cold Creek Manor, RED & the Frankie Drake Mysteries etc. 

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Contributed by Mark Meredith on 10/12/2019 and last updated on 31/10/2020.
Image Credit: Instagram/@cbcfrankiedrake; The Past of Cruikston Park, by Rachel Morgan Redshaw, Historical Researcher of the North Dumfries Municipal Heritage Committee; Step inside a restored Elizabethan manor with 30 ft ceilings... and a baby goat! CBC, May 28, 2018


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