A BRIEF HISTORY: CLARKSON VILLAGE
Clarkson was named after Warren Clarkson, a United Empire Loyalist who, along with others (Thomas Merigold and Lewis Bradley, for example) arrived here in c.1808 from New Brunswick. They settled in a portion of the Old Survey which became known as “Merigold’s Point”.
The Clarkson family operated the general store and post office for many years and their old homestead, built 1819, still stands on Clarkson Road. Today, people can experience a glimpse of different periods in Clarkson ‘s history by visiting the Bradley House, c.1830, The Anchorage, c.1839, or Benares, 1857, all historic properties which are open to the public.
In 1856, Captain Edward Sutherland (1794-1885) moved to Clarkson with his seven children. A widower, he purchased “Bush’s Inn,” a former inn and coach house that was the halfway point between Hamilton, Ontario and Toronto (this building, a private residence, still stands on Clarkson Road South). Here, he is said to have introduced both strawberry and raspberry cultivation to the area. Clarkson eventually became the “Strawberry Capital of Ontario,” and commercial fruit farming expanded in the area through the rest of the 19th and into the early 20th century. In 1915, a sign was erected at the Clarkson railway station declaring “Through this station passes more strawberries than any other station in Ontario.” The Sutherlands later became connected by marriage to the Harrises of Benares (see “Sites of Interest” below).
Sites of Interest
Clarkson is home to both of the City of Mississauga’s historic museums: Bradley Museum and Benares House.
The Bradley Museum provides a window into the everyday life of early settlers in Ontario, and hosts Sunday teas, rotating exhibits, and special events. The museum grounds include the original farmhouse built in 1830 by Lewis and Elizabeth Bradley, a United Loyalist couple who lived in the house with their seven children. The Anchorage, a Regency-style cottage built in 1837, was moved from its original location on the shores of Lake Ontario to the Bradley grounds in 1978. The Anchorage was the retirement home of Royal Navy Officer John Skynner (1762-1846), and remained derelict after being moved to the museum grounds until sufficient funds for its rehabilitation were raised in 1991. In December of 2007 the Log Cabin was opened at Bradley after extensive fundriaising efforts which saw the cabin moved from its location in Port Credit and repaired to its former glory. The Log Cabin is a popular choice for meetings and provides a popular overnight program for Girl Guides and Boy Scouts.
Benares House, located on the border between Clarkson and the neighbouring community of Lorne Park, was inhabited by four generations of the Harris and Sayers families. Rumored to be the inspiration for Canadian author Mazo de la Roche’s famous “Whiteoak Chronicles” (or “Jalna series”) novels, the Benares estate and most of its contents were donated to the Ontario Heritage Foundation by the great-grandchildren of Captain Harris. The site was fully restored and opened to the public in 1995. Benares now houses an interpretive gallery and hosts special events. Within the Clarkson/Lorne Park community, there are numerous streets dedicated to Ms. Roche, namely “Jalna Ave.” and “Mazo Cres.”, located in Lorne Parke and Clarkson, respectively.
In addition to discovering these historic sites, visitors may also explore Rattray Marsh. This ecologically sensitive wetland is the last remaining lakefront marsh between Burlington, Ontario and Toronto, and provides superb opportunities for bird watching while strolling along boardwalks and well-maintained trails. Amazingly abundant displays of white trilliums, the floral emblem and provincial flower of Ontario, may be seen in late April and early May.
Come and explore the beautiful village of Clarkson Ontario.