Friday, 3 October 2014

Parkwood & Philanthropy, Then and Now

When reviewing the giving legacy of the McLaughlin Family and their impact on philanthropy in Canadian history one is always in awe of their achievement, a generous achievement, which to date, has not been matched by any other Canadian in terms of donorship. 
One of the areas that the family was keen to support was that of child welfare and health issues. In fact many of the programs which have long been equated with the McLaughlin Family are programs that support or endorse the key elements of the well being of children: including the scouting and guiding movements; the Home & School Movement; the Boys and Girls Clubs; and the Intensive Care Unit of Sick Children's Hospital.
When one reflects on the causes supported, we can see both the influences of former school teacher, Adelaide McLaughlin, in terms of her support and interests, but also many of the foundations of small "l" liberalism in terms of community support and philanthropy which would have been part of their social circles in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The idea of  Parkwood and philanthropy continues to this day, but in most cases it is the Estate that is benefitting the philanthropic donations as opposed to dispersing them, as it once did pre-1972.  What many people forget in this post- Sam McLaughlin world is that Parkwood is a charity, yes, a charity. With a property as big & beautiful and historically important as Parkwood it should be no surprise that help is always needed—volunteers, sponsors, partners, heritage enthusiasts and, of course, donors. 
As a charity, we are always looking for opportunities to generate the dollars needed to preserve and present the Estate, best reflecting the stories and stewardship of the family.Canada offers perhaps the best website support to Canadian charities and is the most prominent, frequently- used portal for making secure donations on-line. Canada Helps handles any type of gift and tax receipting too, making it invaluable to small & medium organizations. The website was recently redesigned, and it now allows Parkwood to be presented more succinctly, even more visually. We have been able to add photographs, and links to historic McLaughlin home movies, to help showcase our special place in history and the comparative rarity of our historic resources—and ultimately present a compelling case for donor support.

Joint Fundraising Poster
Other opportunities present themselves for raising dollars, also. Modern philanthropic types have hosted events of their own donating their proceeds to a Parkwood project or joint fundraising opportunities emerge, like the one with Their Opportunity, whose mandate parallels much of the philanthropic spirit of Sam and Adelaide McLaughlin.

Their Opportunity makes it possible for children to participate in sports by removing financial barriers. In return, children are asked to pay the opportunity forward through volunteer service. We think this work resonates handsomely with Parkwood’s heritage preservation mission, which ensures public access to historic resources, education and enjoyment opportunities.

The wine & scotch tasting event marks the first collaborative fundraiser for both organizations. It will raise funds to support both charitable organizations and their public-benefit missions in our community, with some sampling of the fine Parkwood heritage resources, and the amazing stories these resources tell.



Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Mural Image and the Introduction of Mr. George W Beardmore

Recognise this image from Parkwood?  It's from the F. Challener mural on the north east side of the Billiard Room and captures HRH Edward, the Prince of Wales (in green frock coat), on a visit to Canada in 1924. The rest has always been a bit of a mystery, with minimal information available about the "hunt" and where in fact this image is suppose to be, described for many years as the Orillia Hunt Club. 
I like sleuthing, when I can, and decided I wanted to learn more about the Orillia Hunt Club and the "hunt" history in Canada. Guess what? I cannot locate any information on the Orillia Hunt Club, and am starting to think that no entity ever existed. This interpretive material, information we have inherited over the years, is proof of how here-say becomes fact, even with historians. On my own twitter account, I frequently read Tudor historians bemoaning how myth/legend become historic fact that is often repeated by generations of academics who never bother or have the time to research what they have come to know as a truth.

Imagine my delight when I began looking into hunt club histories in Ontario and I find this photo (r), with persons identified, the year and location in a book written for the sesquicentennial for the Toronto Hunt Club.
According to William M Gray, author, A History of the Toronto Hunt Club written in 1993, we have George W Beardmore (MFH), in scarlet, escorting HRH Prince of Wales at a meet in Aurora, October 1924. (MFH- Master of Foxhounds). At last we may have some information to go on about the occasion and who is in the mural image. I did double check and Edward did visit the Toronto area in 1924 and if you are knowledgeable on hunt seasons, the northern hemisphere hunt season begins in October and runs through March/April, dependent on weather (especially in Canada) and Beardmore held property, Beverly Farm, in Aurora.

Brief History of the Toronto Hunt Club
The Toronto Hunt Club has an extensive and interesting history. In 1895 land was purchased in Scarborough Heights (current Kingston road location) and architectural firm Darling and Pearson (architects of Parkwood) were commissioned to design and build the "new" club.Under the name of “The Toronto Hunt and Country Club”. The Club was first incorporated under the Provincial Letters Patent in May 1894. In 1905, it was re-incorporated under Dominion Charter as “The Toronto Hunt Limited” and finally in October 1930, it was again incorporated under Provincial Letters Patent as “The Toronto Hunt” and still operates under this Charter. In 1893, George Beardmore was elected president and held that position, as well as Master of the Fox Hounds until 1930. Polo, skeet shooting and eventually tennis were added to the pursuits of the club, but hunting with the hounds was the most popular at the club. There seems to have been a peak in terms of the hunt at the turn of the century, with a decline occurring with the introduction of the automobile and then WWI, but the hunt popularity was revived in the 1920s among society elite.

C. Churchill Mann & Billie Mann
While all this is occurring at the Scarborough "campus" of the Toronto Hunt, Beardmore is investing his own finances in a northern campus, at the then rural, Eglinton and Avenue Road location, of what becomes the Toronto and North Hunt in 1919. Beardmore instructs architects to design and create an elaborate horse facility, and houses a second pack of hounds, creating this clubhouse that many will recognise as one of the gems of Heritage Toronto today (above photo). In 1929 the Toronto and North Club is renamed the Eglinton Hunt, and is administered by Beardmore from 1929 - 1934.
The Eglinton Hunt becomes home to the first Canadian branch of the Pony Club.
As Toronto expanded, Beardmore was forced to move the hounds to his property in Aurora, Beverly Farm, and as the depression worsened, Lady Eaton provided many of the financial and property resources, neighbour to Beverly Farm, Eaton Hall, to support the hunt, through the end of the 1930s.

From 1949 to 1952, Eleanor (Billie) Mann ( nee McLaughlin) is Master of the Hunt of the Eglinton Hunt.

Introducing George W Beardmore 
Who is this George W Beardmore gent that was very influential in the club and is portrayed in the mural at Parkwood, and I know nothing of?
Beardmore came from a leather and shoe (tannery) empire, Beardmore & Co. Ltd., and is described by Gray as an "out-going, successful businessman, sportsman, and accomplished horseman".

His Toronto estate, Chudleigh, is now the Italian consulate, but stands in much of its grandeur, with the changes George W Beardmore saw it undergo through the nineteen teens and twenties.

The relationship between Beardmore and McLaughlin is unknown and may be strictly through sport. Sam and Adelaide McLaughlin were members of the Toronto Hunt, as were their daughters.  We know the successes of the McLaughlin family in terms of horses; jumpers, hunters and thoroughbreds and the legacy of Parkwood Stables.
Both the McLaughlin's and Beardmore's were in business with architects Darling and Pearson, but so were many of the "society set".
In terms of business accounts, Oshawa had its own renowned tannery, Robson Leather, and the McLaughlin Carriage Works, McLaughlin MotorCar Company and eventually General Motors seem to have done most of their tannery business dealings via this enterprise. 
The exact relationship between McLaughlin and Beardmore may be forever elusive, however, we now know what & whom the "hunt" image in the mural depicts, and an image, I believe, would have had a great importance to the McLaughlin family as it was painted onto their wall.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Curious Curator: Discovering Arthur Henry Hider

While researching some copyright questions on the artwork within the estate's collection for an upcoming location shoot at the mansion I fell upon the interesting story of Canadian painter Arthur Henry Hider.

AH Hider is one of the fab five, a group of painters identified as so, because they are considered the nations premier historical and illustrative artists. Do not worry, I had never heard of the fab five before, but this label intrigued me to learn more about Arthur. The fab five composed of Hider; JD Kelly, A Heming, CW Jeffreys and Owen Staples, emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and according to this quote from the web, "no artists, in Canadian history, have had the impact on the national psyche to compare with that of these fabulous top five painters of Canada's past."  (

AH Hider (1870-1952) worked as a painter and commercial illustrator. Working in illustration on product calendars for Gerlach Barklow in Joliet, Illinois in the early 20th century, Hider actually had his start in terms of fame, with his war art depicting the Canadians in the Boer War. He brought the actions of the first Canadian contingent engaged in an overseas war into the living rooms of the Home Front. His work was so well received and realistic, that the Toronto Lithographic Company released reprints for the public to purchase. Hider's talents continued to be in demand and with the outbreak of WWI he was commissioned to create the many war posters that we are familiar with today. Due to his popularity and success of his work, especially the commercial appeal, Hider was never what is recognised as a starving artist, having secured many contracts over the years, his art generated a living income.

Part of the success Hider saw is attributed to his painting with gouache; pigment and binding agent (and often an inert item like chalk to add to the dense consistency drying appeal), making it opaque as opposed to water colour. Gouache is the choice method of commercial artists for illustration like posters, labels, etc.


By 1900, it was widely accepted that no one in Canada could capture the likeness of a horse like Art Hider. Due to his success in painting horses, Arthur was able to not only secure many product label commissions, but also landed the contract to paint the winners at the original Woodbine racetrack in Toronto ( many knowing this as the former Greenwood Track). It is likely this contract that found him painting the Kings Plate Winners of Sam McLaughlin; 1934 Horomoter, 1946 Kingarvie and 1947 Moldy.

These paintings of the Parkwood Stables champions, adorn the walls of the Parkwood Conservatory within the recreation wing.

According to any of the histories and biographies of Hider that I have come across this last week, his legacy has not been the ad work, catalogues or horses, although viewing of Ebay or ephemera auctions will attest to his ad work popularity, but his footnote on Canadian pop culture is his work depicting history.  Or more so, his legacy is that he has captured Canadian historical events in gouache. In an idyllic notation from, the following quote references this legacy, "for countless generations of Canadian school children, Hider's pictures captured the romance of Canadian history, and remained the favourite images they long remembered into the twilight of old age."

Another discovery among the Parkwood collection and one that opened the door into the life, times and legacy of the fab five of Canadian Art and more so of Arthur Hider that I wanted to share with you.

No one really knows where a copyright question from the film industry will lead.