Plaqued Houses and Buildings
21 Regency Court - King's Castle
"King's Castle" is an Oakville landmark
Property Details:
This property was originally part of the 200 acre Lot 16, Concession 2, South of Dundas Street which ran up the west side of Sixth Line from the Lower Middle Road (now the QEW) to the Upper Middle Road. It was acquired by Patent from the Crown by King’s College (which became the University of Toronto) in 1828. It’s probably easiest to paraphrase from David and Suzanne Peacock’s book, Old Oakville, as they did an amazing amount of research when writing the book. The book is available from the Society.

Barbara Chisholm, a younger sister of Oakville’s founder, William Chisholm, married George King who died of illness during the War of 1812. Before her death in 1817, at the age of 24, her two sons, William and James, were made wards of her brother, William. William MacKenzie King, who was born in 1811, left Oakville as a young man and in the course of a chequered career sailed to the far corners of the world. He survived two shipwrecks and ended up in the southern US in time for the California gold rush of 1848. He did well during the gold rush and returned to Oakville to settle down, establish himself and become a gentleman farmer.

In January of 1858 Robert Kerr Chisholm, a son of Oakville’s founder and builder of the Erchless Estate, bought the south half of the 200-acre lot 16 from the University of Toronto for $700. On the same day he sold it to William MacKenzie King for $2400. In July, King took out a mortgage for about $5000 from another cousin, George King Chisholm. King was a subscriber to Tremaine’s Map of Halton County, Canada West and was therefore entitled to have a portrait of his house on the border of the map. Although construction had only just begun, he commissioned the illustration which appears on the map, dated 1858.

The new house was sited close to a grouping of older brick buildings that had earlier served as post house and station for changing horses on the run between Toronto and Hamilton. The buildings comprised a tack room and rudimentary tavern. They were connected by a long brick wall against which was a lean-to which provided shelter for horses and became part of the kitchen tail.

King chose the name Solitude for his new home, but it has always been known as King’s Castle. His plans for the property and his life as a country gentleman farmer fell through in 1859 and he was required to sell it back to R.K. Chisholm. A month later R.K. Chisholm sold it to one of his brothers, Thomas C. Chisholm. King’s other venture, the Oakville Advertiser newspaper, a reform newspaper he published, continued for a brief time. Shopkeeper John A. Williams related that King’s aunt, Mrs. Barnett Griggs, left him a hotel on Navy Street, the Frontier House. The Collector’s Roll of 1866 confirms that Mrs Griggs owned the hotel and that King was living there as a tenant. Registry documents show that he never owned it. In 1877 he was a tenant in the house on the northwest corner of Forsyth and Rebecca Streets owned by Henry Gulledge. King died in 1879 at the age of 68 after a difficult life. John Williams described him as no credit, no money, no hope.

In 1871 T.C. Chisholm sold the property to Richard Postans who, for 15 years, cultivated grapes on the property. His name appears in the 1877 Halton Atlas.

In 1897 Sara McCausland purchased the six acres that remained of the 100. Her husband, Robert McCausland, operated the family business in Toronto which was responsible for designing and crafting some of the finest stained glass and leaded windows in the area. Most of the old churches in Town have windows by McCausland and the company still operates. In 1902 the house was advertised in a publication called the Garden of Canada.

Harry Ryrie, son of Toronto jeweler James Ryrie, purchased it in 1908 and in 1910 it was sold to William T. Merry, a manufacturer of printing inks in Toronto. Tales of life in King’s Castle appear in son Herb Merry’s books.

Since then it has changed hands many times, survived a fire in the original tack room and tavern and became the first property in Oakville to be designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act. There have been many changes to the house over the years; the old post house recorded on a provincial map of 1833 is gone as is any hint of the old aboriginal trail that ran across the northeast corner of the property and the property is now surrounded by 20th century housing which it will probably outlast.

The Society is delighted to place a plaque on this Oakville landmark.
Click to Enlarge
King's Castle - 21 Regency CourtKing's Castle - 21 Regency Court
21 Regency Court plaque21 Regency Court plaque
King's Castle in the Halton AtlasKing's Castle in the Halton Atlas
King's Castle - 1957King's Castle - 1957
William KingWilliam King