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The Harrison-Holborn House, Queensville

As you are driving up the picturesque Leslie Street to Keswick, have you ever noticed a house that looks like both a log cabin and a grand house stuck together? If you have and have been curious about it, we are going to give you some background on this unique structure, known as the Harrison-Holborn House!

When East Gwillimbury was being surveyed in the 1800’s, the area on which the house currently stands (Lot 25, Concession 3) was originally part of a Clergy Reserve. Usually about one out of every seven lots would be designated in this way to generate income for the Crown. Later, on January 18th, 1824, Hiram Harrison (his occupation designated as ‘yeoman’) registered a claim on the two-hundred-acre tract of land in return for debts being paid. He built a single-story log cabin on the property, with a dirt floor and a primitive sloped roof. The property changed hands five more times; this house was transferred with the property each time, making it the oldest log cabin still standing in the area.

When George Holborn purchased the part of the lot on which the house stood on March 6, 1847, the house had been improved with the addition of a second half-story, a stone foundation, and a wood floor. This sort of house was too modest for George, so in about 1855 he constructed a full two-story Gothic style house, attached as a sort of façade to the front of the log building. This house “was built in the classic Gothic style, with steep gables and contrasting brick details.”[1]

George Holborn died in 1881, leaving the west half of lot 25, concession 3 to his son, George Holborn Jr. The property stayed in the Holborn family until it was sold by Walker Holborn, who was a hardware merchant from Sutton to Norman Lee Eves in 1917. From this date until 1991, the house has changed hands thirteen times.

Fortunately, many of the heritage features of this building have survived relatively unchanged! Some of them include the original trim moulding, plaster walls and exposed cedar logs; the Gothic part of the house retains the original sloped roof, narrow top, and curved brickwork around the window. The only change in the house happened in the 1940’s, when the open porch was closed in to create a sun-room.[2] The house is currently owned by Bruce Newland.

Fig. 1: A line drawing of the Harrison-Holborn house, showing a rear view of the building. From the East Gwillimbury Historical Society Publication.

Keep your eyes peeled for this stylish house the next time you drive up to Keswick on the Queensway!

[1] Waddell, C. & Waddell, C. (1994) “The Harrison-Holborn House”. In TimeLines: A Publication of the East Gwillimbury Historical Society, Vol. 2, no. 2 (December). [2] Community (2011, September 15). “East Gwillimbury shows off its heritage homes”. Newmarket Era. Retrieved from

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