Sir William Mackenzie was born in Kirkfield, Ontario in 1849. He was the eighth of nine children. Born in a log cabin with mud floors, he rose from total poverty to become one of the wealthiest men in the country. His accomplishments were many, including hydroelectric projects, street transportation systems and shipping lines. His influence was felt all over the world. Along with his partner Sir Donald Mann, Mackenzie was the only private individual to build and own a transcontinental railway. We know it today as the Canadian National Railway. He transformed early Toronto by electrifying the system of horse drawn trams to create the first streetcars. The TTC of today was born out of Mackenzie’s vision and enterprise.
The Kirkfield property was Sir William’s country estate from 1888 – 1923. He and Lady Mackenzie raised nine children here and at the turn of the 20th century the estate was nearly 1000 acres.
From 1927 to 1976 the property was owned by the Sisters of Saint Joseph based in Peterborough Ontario. The Sisters created St. Margaret’s School and Convent here. We’re fortunate enough to still have students who attended here visit us in the summer months and share their stories of the early years here from the 30s thru 60s.