Erland Lee (Museum) Home National Historic Site of Canada
Stoney Creek, Ontario
© Erland Lee (Museum) House / Maison Musée Erland Lee
552 Ridge Road, Stoney Creek, Ontario
Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
1808 to 1808
1897 to 1897
1973 to 1974
1860 to 1860
1873 to 1873
Event, Person, Organization:
Erland Lee (Museum) Home
Erland Lee Museum
Research Report Number:
2002 OB-01, 2002 OB-01A
Existing plaque: 552 Ridge Road, Stoney Creek, Ontario
This 19th-century farmhouse is the birthplace of Women's Institutes ( WI), an organization that played a vital role in thousands of small communities. Inspired by domestic science reformer Adelaide Hoodless, and supported by her husband Erland, Janet Lee drafted the constitution of the Stoney Creek Women's Institute here in 1897. From these roots emerged a movement that spread throughout Canada and the world. In meeting halls across the country, the WI brought women together to learn diverse skills and to promote civic reform, helping them break the grinding isolation of rural life.
Description of Historic Place
The Erland Lee (Museum) Home National Historic Site of Canada is set in a rural landscape in the town of Stoney Creek, Ontario. It is an ornamented Gothic Revival style farmhouse in which the constitution of the highly successful Women’s Institute was written. One-and-a-half-storeys high, with board and batten siding and distinctive gingerbread trim, the home is situated amongst lawns and gardens. Official recognition refers to the building on its legal lot.
The Erland Lee (Museum) Home was designated a national historic site of Canada in 2002 because: it is the site of the drafting of the constitution of the first Women’s Institute and the home of the organizations’ co-founders and leaders, Janet and Erland Lee; it is widely recognized and valued as the birthplace of an important national and international movement for rural and farm women; it is a well-preserved and interpreted home that speaks to the legacy of the Stoney Creek Women’s Institute.
The Erland Lee (Museum) Home, built as a log home in 1808, was altered and enlarged in 1860 and 1873 by Abram Lee, the father of Erland Lee, and today retains its appearance from the 1890s. It is associated with the founding of the first Women’s Institute as the home of Janet Chisholme Lee and her husband Erland Lee, who together organized the founding meeting, drafted the constitution, formalized provincial government support, and set an excellent example in Stoney Creek.
The house has become a potent, widely recognized symbol of Women’s Institutes both in Canada and internationally. Home of the “Mother Institute”, it is the site most intimately associated with the development of an important farm women’s organization, with its focus on family, and improvement of self and surroundings. The house itself is typical of many so-called “Ontario cottages” with their one-and-a-half-storey, rectangular massing, three-bay façade with centre door, central gable breaking a front-sloping pitched roof, and centre-stair interior plan. Its decorative elaboration speaks to the “improving” objectives of the movement.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 2002.
The key elements that contribute to the heritage character of this site include: the location of the site in Stoney Creek; the setting of the house amongst lawns, gardens, trees and outbuildings; the one-and-a-half-storey massing under a pitched roof with projecting central gable; elements of the house electing its state during the tenure of Erland and Janet Lee, including the board-and-batten clad exterior, distinctive gingerbread trim, the 1970s placement, design and surviving materials of doors and windows including the bay windows flanking the main entrance with its double door; the remaining elements that are typical of its evolution from a log cabin into a comfortable, late nineteenth-century middle class home, including the surviving evidence of the 1870s interior plan, the 1860 full basement with cistern, and surviving interior finishes; outbuildings surviving from the 19th century, including the 1870s drive-shed in its original placement on the lot, original massing and materials.