Sunday 11 June 2017

Erland Lee House

Last week, I had an opportunity to visit a place which has long been on my list.  Erland Lee House is now a museum and is a National Historic Site of Canada.  It is run by the Federated Women's Institutes of Ontario.  The reason for this is because this house was the birthplace of the Women's Institute.

The house sits on the Niagara Escarpment, which looks out across Lake Ontario.  This photo doesn't do it justice, as the view across the road is mostly obscured by vegetation.

A plaque commemorates the fact that the first Women's Institute started in this home when the constitution was drawn up in 1897.  The W.I. is now a worldwide organization.

This white and green Gothic Revival house did not look like it does today.  The Lees were United Empire Loyalists, with strong British connections, who left the United States in 1792 and settled in Canada, which was still governed by Great Britain.  Many United Empire Loyalists fled the United States prior to the War of 1812 (American Revolution), also settling in Canada. 

James Lee brought his Loyalist family to Saltfleet Township in what was then known as Upper Canada.  The Lee home was constructed in 1808 by James and Hannah Lee's eldest son, John after receiving land from his wife's family.  The original house was a log cabin of one room, with a sleeping loft above.

This plaque is adjacent to the front door, which is not in use today - in its day, it was only used to admit important visitors, such as the church minister.

The current home dates from 1873 when it was enlarged and a second floor was added.  Six generations of the Lee family lived in the home from 1808 until 1971.

My visit included a personal guided tour, which lasted far longer than I had anticipated (about 90 minutes).  Poor Mr Candytuft was waiting in the garden (his choice) and thought that I had been abducted!  It seems that all of the museum staff had stopped by to chat to him and told him that the volunteer guide could 'talk for Canada'!

The day was hot - the first of the summer, but with little breeze, I wasn't able to get a good photograph of the flags outside - from the left - Ontario flag, Women's Institute flag and the Canadian flag - unofficially known as the Maple Leaf.

As this was a long visit, with lots of photographs, I'm going to end this post and show you the interior of the house in a separate one.


  1. How wonderful. I vaguely knew that the WI started in Canada but didn;t know much more than that, I've learnt a lot from your post and look forward to seeing the inside of that lovely house:)

  2. Wow...what a fun outing! How wonderful to see where the WI began! The house is lovely!! Look forward to a tour of the interior--nice that they allowed photos. And don't YOU look lovely too, i you summer dress! So nice to see you. :)

  3. Rosie - thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I will be posting about the interior of the house with lots of photos.

  4. Tracy - it was a very interesting visit, if a little long! The personal guided tour took an hour and a half. It is a wonder Mr Candytuft is still speaking to me.