Green Venture’s History
Green Venture was started in 1994 as a creation of the former Region of Hamilton-Wentworth. Originally designed as an umbrella group connecting small environmental organizations of the day, Green Venture became the Region’s, and later the City of Hamilton’s, lead agency to promote sustainable living ideas. Green Venture helped pioneer the use of Blue Boxes, Green Carts, rain barrels, and Energy Auditing in the Hamilton area in the 1990s and 2000s. Shifting from facilities in first Jackson Square, and later the old Federal Building, Green Venture broadened the awareness of the citizens of Hamilton about climate change and other issues.
After 2003, the organization, now known just as “Green Venture” following the amalgamation of the former municipalities of the region into the new City of Hamilton, secured the use of the Glen Manor property in the city’s east end.
This 1850s stone building was transformed into the EcoHouse and now serves as the organization’s offices and as a demonstration site for various green initiatives. A prototype community garden was established at the current EcoHouse in 2005-6 as a test run for developing community gardens across the city. Similarly, the organization led the way in new energy generation initiatives like the Ontario MicroFIT program in 2011.
Take a virtual peek inside EcoHouse…
History of EcoHouse (Glen Manor)
“EcoHouse” was not always called thus. The original name for the site was “Glen Manor”, named by English immigrants a century ago. Green Venture’s environmental demonstration house, and the farm it once dominated from its perch on the hillside, has a rich 200-year back story.
EcoHouse is also known as “Glen Manor” or “the Veevers Estate” after the last owners of the property. At one time Glen Manor farm included a stretch of land from Quigley Road to Greenhill Ave, from King Street to the base of the escarpment.
The Thatcher Family
Loyalist John Thatcher , his wife Mary along with their four sons and four daughters cleared the forest and developed 200 acres of land where Veevers Drive, Quigley and Ambrose Ave are today by the late 18th Century. Their farm was recorded in the 1791 survey map of Saltfleet Township ( Stoney Creek) by surveyor Augustus Jones. Thatcher died in 1836.
The Dean Family
In 1802 Samuel Dean (1779 – 1841), a blacksmith, married Ruth Howell, daughter of loyalist Garrett Howell of Jerseyville (Ancaster). They settled in Saltfleet (modern day Stoney Creek).
Samuel’s eldest son, James (1806 – 1870), married John Thatcher’s daughter Emily (1810 – 1840) in 1833 thereby assuming all operations of the Thatcher farm. The ownership resided with Emily until her early death at age 30. They had five sons. Note that the house was designed with five upper windows.
James remarried, to Barbara Knowles (1821 – 1882) in 1848. They had three more sons. (but added no more windows).
“Glen Manor” was the composite of several houses constructed between 1820 – 1851 by both families along with the help of the Pettit family whom constructed a similar house at Concession 1, known as “The EverGreens”. and also the “Stone Chuch” known today as St. Andrews in Grimsby.
The Pettits have left two inscriptions at the front step of the house to remind us of their contributions
EcoHouse can be seen on this 1875 map as the black dot in the middle of the James Dean farm.
The Gage Family
A 50 acre piece of the farm was sold from the estate in 1871 to John Gage, one of the descendants of the Gage family of Stoney Creek. Gage was a speculator and major landowner in Wentworth . He likely purchased the property as an income generator.
The remainder of the 150 acre piece was purchased by Gage in 1880. He conveyed the land to his son, John W Gage, in 1886.
John W Gage ran the general store at Bartonville in this era. Gage did not live in Glen Manor, but rented out the building between 1871 and 1912. Gage’s fine Bartonville home still stands. It is known today at Wear’s Flower Shop.
John W Gage, From Hamilton Biography
Also of interest: John Gage’s other son, Robert, lived at the modern site of Gage Park, which was eventually donated to the City of Hamilton.
The Glen Manor house and farm remained in John W Gage’s possession until his death in 1912. The farm was sold to Bertha Quigley (hence Quigley Rd.), who in turn sold the land to Canadian Quarries.
In 1922 Canadian Quarries sold the land to several speculators: Hamilton politician TJ Mahony (“Mr Good Roads”) and Hugh Bertram, a prominent Stoney Creek resident.
The Veevers Family
1942 Photo of Veevers Hay Field Operation – Courtesy E Bawden
The Veevers family, who began living on the property in the late 1920s, ran a fruit and dairy farm, raising a sizable herd of Holstein cattle, and up to the 1940s operated their own dairy. The farm was fully purchased from Bertram and Mahony in 1934 by the Veevers family.
After the dealth of Ambrose and Blanche Veevers in the 1940s and 1950s, farming activities were subsequently scaled down and only the two elder brothers, Ronald and Bertram, remained on the farm.
The two brothers sold off the family lands for development in the 1960s and 1970s and made extensive and sometimes undesirable renovations to the Glen Manor building.
1980s postcard image
The last 12 acres, including the farmhouse and 1.5 acre garden, was deeded to the City of Hamilton for public use. The two brothers retained the use of the house and garden until the death of the last surviving brother in 1993.
The former home, donated by the two brothers to the City of Hamilton in 1985, comprises an enlarged 1850s stone farmhouse and attractive 1.5 acre garden situated near the base of the escarpment just east of the Red Hill Creek Valley. The subdivision of the original 200-acre farm in the 1960s and early 1970s reduced the Veevers property to a total of 12 acres, including a separate 10.5 acre parcel of undeveloped escarpment land.
Up until the 1950s, the farmhouse stood in its original form atop a hill surrounded by rolling pastures, woodland and orchards. Landscaping around the house, largely completed in the 1950s and 1960s, created a parklike setting of special horticultural interest featuring lawns with alleys of trees, rose and tulip beds, and a rockery. Now enclosed by a high iron fence, this garden oasis effectively buffers the house from the engulfing 20th century suburban development, dominated by single-family homes to the north and east and high-rise apartments to the west.
Glendale Dairy, Circa 1940s
Today the Veevers Home stands as a vestige from the pioneer farming era, dating back to the early settlement of Saltfleet Township, when it was closely associated with two important pioneer families: the Deans and the Gages.
This 1½ storey house, built of rough-hewn stone quarried from the escarpment, is a relatively rare example of a pre-Confederation stone farmhouse in the Hamilton area and, in its original form, a very good example of its type. It has the fine masonrywork, wide horizontal proportions and restrained ornamentation characteristic of early settlers’ houses dating from the 1820s through the 1850s. The well-proportioned, symmetrical five-bay facade originally featured a wide doorway with a panelled wood door and sidelights, and a somewhat unusual row of low square, upper storey windows. As a result of extensive renovations undertaken in 1968, these square windows were replaced by higher and taller dormers and the doorway was modified. Despite these alterations and two modern additions, the house is in excellent condition and retains much of its original character, at least on the exterior.
One of Veevers and newly installed retaining wall, Late 1960’s – Veevers Personal Collection
Important to the preservation of 22 Veevers Drive are the original features of all four facades of the 1850s farmhouse, including the stone masonry walls, end chimneys, flat-arched lintels and solid stone sills, the denticulated returned eaves, and the original door and window openings. Excluded are the two-storey wing and garage added to the rear (south-east corner), the glass conservatory (rear), and the modern front door and dormer windows.
Ronald and Bertram, Late 1970s to early 1980s – From a Christmas Card sent to neighbour
Green Venture and EcoHouse
Green Venture was leased the property in 2001, following several years of vacancy. The environmental organization moved in in April 2002 and started to transform the interior of the building, while maintaining the exterior integrity of its heritage designation. Office renovations were completed in 2003 and environmental demonstrations are continually being added indoors and outdoors.