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Canadian History
Crieff in Ontario

On Wednesday, 9th November, 2005 I visited this community and was kindly furnished with some background information and access to the property to take some pictures.  Here is the history of the community...


Highland Scots settled in this area in the 1830’s and worked the property of Crieff Hills Community. They cleared the land, building log cabins and barns. When their families grew, they used the stone of the area to build solid stone houses. They borrowed the name "Crieff" from a town at the edge of the Highlands. They spoke Gaelic and for this reason brought their first minister — The Reverend Andrew Maclean, from Scotland as well. The first child born in the manse was John Bayne Maclean, who grew up to become a newspaperman. He founded "Maclean’s" magazine, "The Financial Post" and Maclean-Hunter publishers. He was known as Col. Maclean since he attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Canadian Militia.

In the 1920’s, Col. Maclean was responsible for having restoration and renovation work done on the church grounds and cemetery at the crossroads of Crieff. In recognition of his service, he was given the old manse and an acre of land in 1925, which he made into his country home. He gradually bought up 300 acres of adjacent farmland and made a working model farm with a dairy herd, pigs, grain fields, orchards and about 100 acres of re-forested land. His estate — Crieff Hills Farm, became known far and wide for its beautiful landscape and gardens.

When he died in 1950, he left 250 acres of the farm and its buildings to the Presbyterian Church in Canada, along with invested money, to be used "to maintain and develop the several properties at Crieff as a model and example to other communities". After 25 years of being rented out for farming and private residences, the property began to be developed into a retreat and conference center for the church under the Maclean Estate committee which was appointed by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. The founding Director was the Reverend Robert Spencer.

First, the 1940 stone cottage was renovated into the House of the Shepherd in 1975. It was so popular, the log cabin was made over into the House of the Prophet the next year. Interest in the community grew, so Matthew and Mark Lodges were built in 1977 and 1978. A large kitchen was also added to the former schoolhouse. Due to the gifts and skills of many people, Crieff Hills has renovated and added to the buildings over the years. As needs have been identified the Crieff Hills Community have tried to provide for them, as in the Hermitage, which was completely made over through the work of many hands, into a private retreat house. In 1982 the second addition was added to Maclean Hall, to be used as offices. The House of the Dove began to be used in 1983.

To meet the growing demand for programs and for use of the facilities, a fundraising campaign began in 1985 and the results were St. Luke’s Lodge and The Conference Hall in 1991. Robert Yeats House was built in 1995, with funds from the estate of Robert Yeats, a member of St. Andrew’s Church, Kitchener. Crieff Hills Community still has room to grow in facilities and programs to continue serving the church and society as a retreat and conference center.

A Couple of Brochures

Pictures of the Community

This place reminded me of Crieff in Scotland and the weather was dreich and typical of Scotland at this time of year :-)

And here is David who suggested this visit and took me around

Some additional information on families that settled in this area can be found at

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