Lawton Park

Lawton Boulevard, Toronto, Ontario

Built 1847, for Lt.-Colonel Arthur Carthew (1799-1879) J.P., Deputy Collector of Customs at Toronto, in preparation for marrying his fiancée. Tragically, she was killed while inspecting the works and Carthew disposed of it the following year to John Fisken (1818-1890) who then oversaw its completion. The house stood at the northwest corner of Heath Street West & Yonge and was demolished in 1935.

This house is best associated with...

Arthur Carthew

Lt.-Colonel Arthur Carthew J.P., Deputy Collector of Customs, Toronto

1799-1879

John Fisken

John Fisken, of Toronto

1818-1890

John Jackson Palmer

John J. Palmer, President of the Toronto Type Foundry

1851-1928

In 1847, Colonel Carthew purchased 6-acres from the Deer Park estate belonging to Captain Charles Wallace Heath (1818-1957). That year, he started to build a villa for himself and his fiancée. He managed to salvage the solid black walnut interior panelling from Hazelburne which he retrofitted seamlessly into their new home. But, tragically, while inspecting the progress of the works, an accident occurred on site and Carthew's fiancée was killed.

Heartbroken, Carthew never lived at the house they had named Lawton Park and in 1848 he promptly sold the land with its unfinished house to John Fisken (1818-1890), a wealthy dry goods merchant who co-founded the Imperial Bank with William Ramsay (b.1835), who would later neighbour him just to the west of Lawton before retiring to Bowland. Lawton was completed by 1850 and the Fiskens retained the name, but during their time it was also sometimes locally referred to as "the Fisken house".

At the time, the house was envied for its secluded position and landscaped gardens. The large gates at entrance to the property on what was then old Yonge Street (now Lawton Boulevard) was guarded a par of lodge houses. On the grounds were stables, a carriage house, dovecote, winery, a root house (where vegetables were stored throughout winter) and potting sheds. From the 1870s, the Fiskens allowed their gardens to be used by neighbouring Christ Church for picnics, teas and other fund-raising events.

Neither Carthew nor Fisken had held back on its construction: Lawton's brick walls were 18-inches thick and the stone foundation walls measured 30-inches. Internally, the solid wooden doors were each 2-inches thick. Being a typical early Victorian villa, the reception rooms on the ground floor were large and airy with floor-to-ceiling windows surrounded by a spacious verandah. The servants quarters were above the north wing where the kitchen was also placed.  

In 1904, their children having all grown up, the widowed Mrs Fisken sold Lawton Park for $25,390 to John J. Palmer (1851-1928), President of the Toronto Type Foundry and owner of the Mutual Street Ice Rink. Palmer hired the well-regarded local architect Vaux Chadwick (1868-1941) to design and add a new 45-foot by 35-foot ballroom. It featured a deep mahogany-beamed ceiling and large mahogany-trimmed mantel. In addition, a conservatory was adjoined to the south side of the house.

Palmer renamed his home Huntly Lodge for his father-in-law’s birthplace: Huntly in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. His father-in-law was William Mellis Christie (1829-1900), of Christie Mansion, the largest manufacturer of biscuits in Canada.

In 1935, Lawton Park succumbed to urban development when it was demolished to make way for the apartment houses on Lawton Boulevard that stand in its place today.

Styles

Contributed by Mark Meredith on 10/12/2018 and last updated on 17/03/2019.
Images of Lawton Park Courtesy of the Toronto Public Library; The Estates of Old Toronto (1997) by Liz Lundell; Opportunity Road: Yonge Street 1860-1939, by F.R. Berchem; Lost Rivers - Lawton Park; Fisken's Simcoe Terrace - http://torontohistory.net/fiskens-simcoe-terrace.html

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