Ruthven Park’s History
Visit Ruthven Park, a unique historic estate overlooking the Canadian Heritage Grand River, and experience the mansion and the lifestyle of five generations of the Thompson family who lived here from the 1840s – 1990s.
This particular Thompson family was not related to the newspaper magnate or explorer, but they were an important family in their own right. With members serving in the military (see a slideshow of Major Andrew Thompson’s movements in WWI here), performing on TV and stage as actors, working as successful businessmen, and contributing to society as politicians, the family contributed to the formative years of Canada and to the building of our nation up until the 1990s. They were also active members of the Haldimand County community.
David Thompson moved to the area from Wainfleet, Ontario in the 1830s. His interest in moving here was two-fold. First, he wanted to invest in the Grand River Navigation Company with funds he earned while being a contractor on the building of the first Welland Canal in the 1820s. Secondly, he was interested in business. As a result of his move, David was instrumental in the laying out of the former 1200 acre town of Indiana. He eventually owned two sawmills, as well as a gristmill, carding mill, cooperage, and several stores. Overall, Indiana supported over 30 industries and was the largest industrial town in Haldimand County in the mid-nineteenth century.
David I was elected to the legislative assembly after the union of Upper and Lower Canada in 1841, and served as a reformer until his death in 1851.
The Greek Revival mansion that David had built between 1845 and 1847 is filled with furnishings and possessions owned by five successive generations of the family and passed to The Lower Grand River Land Trust Inc. largely intact in 1993 through the generosity of Marion Hartney. This collection of archival records, military artifacts, furnishings, paintings, decorative arts, tools, implements, books, clothing, gate columns, and lawn sculpture dating from David Thompson I relate the history of the Thompson family residence and contribute to the understanding of the site.
The estate was built in the English picturesque landscape model and has largely survived intact to the present day. The 1,500 acre property is now made up of Carolinian forests, active farm fields, wetlands, meadows, two cemeteries, nineteenth century buildings, and an island.
Visitors have the opportunity to explore this unique property year-round.
Winter Hours – October 10/17 to May 18/18
The Gate House: (office) open Monday to Friday 9 am to 5 pm
The Mansion: by appointment only for groups of 6+ people
Phone: (905) 772-0560
Toll-free: (877) 705-7275
243 Haldimand Hwy. #54,
Cayuga, ON N0A 1E0