A STEP BACK IN TIME TO THE YEAR 1845
A time when settlement was in its infancy along the Grand River, colourful
steamships scows and large flat bottomed boats were carrying passengers
logs and commodities on the waterway system. One of these settlements was
the Irish village of Indiana that was beginning to develop into a thriving
community. Here is where David Thompson started his familys economic and
political dynasty, building a grist mill, lumber mill, distillery and
general store. As a reflection of his prosperity, Ruthven Mansion was
built on a plateau overlooking the Grand River. It remains today a symbol
of a bygone era.
The Mansion is a fine example of Classical Greek Revival Architecture. It
is truly a masculine building reflecting the Victorian era for which it
was built. The complex contains the Mansion consisting of 3 floors, 36
rooms, The barracks, Coach House, and several outbuildings. The Gatehouse
stands guard at the Park entrance. The Mansion and its contents have
remained virtually untouched, aside from general maintenance updates over
the years. The Double drawing room is a magnificent example of Greek
Revival, boasting two identical Italian black marble fireplaces. The
dining room was functional, yet formal and adjoins a parlor through etched
glass doors. Another feature of the main floor, is a unique oval
staircase, winding up three floors to a skylight on the roof. The back
wing of the Mansion was built in the 1860s and contains a modern kitchen
and living area.
Five generations of the Thompsons, a proud family of Scottish descent,
have owned Ruthven Park since it was built in 1845. The dynasty began with
David I, who was born to James and Margaret Thompson in 1793. David fought
during the War of 1812. He accumulated wealth working as a contractor on
the Welland Canal, leading him to Indiana, on the Grand River where he
became a fascinating link in the Grand River Navigation Companys
tumultuous story. He was elected the first member of parliament for the
County of Haldimand in the United provinces, which led the way for two
more generations of Thompson men being elected to Parliament. Come join us
for more history of The Thompson family, from David Ils rise in politics
in Ottawa, his son Andrew "The Colonels" military career, the lives of
the Colonels sons Andrew and Walter, to the final generation Walters
sons, Drew and David.
One of the first things you will notice about
Ruthven Park is its quiet serenity. The Park consists of nine hundred
acres of Carolinian Forest, which forms part of the North Cayuga Slough
Forest and wetlands. Six hundred additional acres are being actively
cultivated by local farmers. There have been over four hundred different
plant species identified by naturalists including ten provincially
endangered plants. Bird Banding studies are currently under way. Ruthven
Park is open for hiking on
special event days. Throughout the generations the grounds of Ruthven have
played a part in the Thompson familys history. The family enjoyed all
aspects of the outdoors: leisurely strolls, tennis, fishing the Grand,
swimming, horseback riding, gardening and many hours of entertaining.
Ruthven was also a working farm with livestock, orchard, and cash crops.
It is also believed that throughout the 1840s to 1870s militia were
boarded and trained at Ruthven.
THE LOWER GRAND RIVER LAND TRUST
The Lower Grand River Land Trust Inc., is a non-profit community based
charitable organization dedicated to protecting the unique natural,
cultural and agricultural features of the Grand River Watershed as it
courses through Brant County and the Towns of Haldimand and Dunnville.
Join us in preserving this landscape for your families and future
As a non profit organization, the
LGRLT can offer you opportunities to assist in preserving the Lower Grand
River. The key to success has been the commitment of our enthusiastic
volunteers who donate their time and energy to protect this unique area.
Special events, grants and donations fund our activities. Your gift, be it
talents, a piece of property, membership or bequests will ensure that your
family and future generations will he able to enjoy and appreciate the
natural beauty and history of this region.
Ruthven Parks trails run through a part of the
Carolinian Canada life zoneone of the most habitat-rich and species-rich
areas in Canada.
Grand Valley Trail This historic trail was used by early settlers as a migration route
from Rock Point to Brantford. The Ruthven portion of the trail consists of
2 km. of slough forest. The trail in total is 255 km. long and extends
from Rock Point to Alton (Orangeville).
This easily accessible trail runs for a short distance down Mill Street in
the former town of Indiana. Watch for birds and animals in their natural
habitat of woods and open fields and discover their social behaviour,
physical characteristics and eating habitats.
This trail has steep grades to and from the river. Views of the mansion
can be seen through the "vista" openings in the slope forest. A corridor,
covered with trees, shrubs and tall grasses to buffer erosion, litter and
agricultural by-products, is located between the trail and the river. The
corridor also provides flood protection and valuable aquatic and wildlife
Carolinian Woodland Trail
This seasonal stream provides habitat and an upland corridor for many
types of wildlife and a variety of plant life.
Butterfly Meadow Trail
This trail bisects the butterfly meadow and provides intimate contact with
regional meadow habitat including wildflowers, birds, butterflies and
Please stay on the trails to minimize damage to
the sensitive plants and animal communities in the area.
Leave flowers for others to enjoy. Take
Wear proper footwear and be safety conscious.
Children should be accompanied by an adult.
Use of motorized vehicles is prohibited.
Pets must be on a leash (and please scoop).
Trails close at sunset.
Enjoy these self-guided trails at your own risk!
If you enjoy walking the trails, please volunteer to help maintain them! Note: After walking through natural areas, inspect yourself for
ticks, and if warranted, take the necessary steps to remove (especially
On-going Conservation Ruthven Park is a "work in progress" so you are likely to witness
activities being carried out on the buildings and the landscape. Why not
plan a return visit to see our progress?
Bird Banding The "piggery" is now used as one of three field stations of the
Haldimand Bird Observatory, one of twelve Canadian migration monitoring
network organizations. Over the course of a year, approximately
3,000-3,500 birds, including 85 different species, are banded by
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