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Article: Historic Cottage Welcomes Community After 200 Years

Historic Cottage Welcomes Community After 200 Years
Cruickston Park

Historic Cottage Welcomes Community After 200 Years

The ‘Stone Cottage’ wasn’t always made of stone. It started as a quaint wooden, four-bedroom house replete with central staircase, living room, parlour and gingerbread detailing.  

It was designed by Detlief Lenaux at the same time he was overseeing the redesign of the manor which began in 1871.  Family folklore says it was built to house the Wilks family temporarily while they waited for their principal home to be completed: A process that took two years. 

Oddly the cottage didn’t appear to have been built with a kitchen so it is likely the family relied on the lean-two kitchen attached to the Trapper’s Cabin and its inhabitants for meal preparation, since the cabin is located


Left: The Stone Cottage c. 1970’s. Right: Lilo and Trina Keefer

A Source of Family History

Once the Wilks family moved into the manor in 1873, The Stone Cottage became the home of the farm manager and his family.  When Catherine Wilks inherited a life tenancy of the Cruickston estate from her father near the turn of the Century, ‘The Stone Cottage’ was expanded with the addition of a large kitchen, bedroom, pantry, basement and wrap-around porch.  It was only at this time the stone was added.

During Aunt Kate’s tenure, The Stone Cottage was used as a guest house and entertainment center for the Wilks’ extended family and friends.  Matthew Wilks Keefer, Aunt Kate’s nephew and heir to the property, visited Cruickston Park routinely from England with his two sisters where they all lived full-time. Coincident with the year of Aunt Kate’s passing in 1949, the Keefer siblings moved permanently to Cruickston Park and the Misses Keefers took up residence at The Stone Cottage (followed by Mrs. Margaret Keefer’s son, Biff Hamilton).


Independency Over Union

As the Wilks’ family was affluent, it was not unusual for women-of-means to avoid marriage in order to avoid laws that automatically transferred a woman’s wealth to her husband. Aunt Kate and the Misses Keefers were three such women. They chose a life of independence.

 Today The Stone Cottage remains an elegant home within a beautiful setting, reminiscent of wood, stone and generations that had gone before.


Historic Impact

In addition to its rich family history stemming from the Trapper's Cabin, it's important to highlight that this site also holds significant historical importance to Ontario as the first-ever built infrastructure in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. As the inaugural structure erected in the region, its existence serves as a tangible testament to the area's early development and pioneering spirit. 

Opening our Doors after 200 Years 

After two centuries, we are thrilled to extend a warm invitation to our community to rediscover and relish the beauty of this remarkable building. Through meticulous restoration efforts, we have carefully preserved its historical essence while infusing it with modern luxuries, creating an unforgettable experience that seamlessly blends the past with the present. 

Book your cottage experience here.