Date: Saturday, September 19, 2015
Time: 10 am-4 pm
Location: McKinnon-Eakin House, c. 1835, 145 Main Street, Unionville (Markham), Ontario
Every year, Doors Open Ontario attracts large crowds across the province. From April to October, residents and visitors are invited to discover Ontario’s heritage treasures, some of which have never been open to the public. Since the program was launched in 2002, nearly six million visits have been made to heritage sites participating in this initiative.
Doors Open Markham once again embraced and celebrated Markham’s past by featuring local heritage properties that have been around for generations.
As the proud owner of one of Unionville’s oldest remaining buildings, the McKinnon-Eakin House, circa 1835, Minken Employment Lawyers was honoured to open its doors for nearly 200 visitors.
The first Doors Open Day (La Journée Portes Ouvertes) took place in France in 1984. The idea soon spread to neighbouring countries, including the Netherlands, Sweden, the Republic of Ireland, Belgium and Scotland. In 1991, these events were united as European Heritage Days at the initiative of the Council of Europe. In 2003, all 48 signatory states of the European Cultural Convention participated in European Heritage Days.
In 2000, the City of Toronto launched the first Doors Open event in North America. In 2002, the then-named Ontario Heritage Foundation launched Doors Open Ontario, the first province-wide event of its kind in Canada. The Doors Open concept continues to spread across North America with events now being held in Newfoundland, Alberta, Massachusetts, Western New York State, New York and Denver.
Neil McKinnon, a Scottish immigrant, was the original inhabitant of this property. In 1839, he was involved in the construction of a sawmill on the Bruce Creek in association with Ira White, a millwright from New York State that had come to Markham Township in the 1820s. The land where 145 Main Street stands was leased from King’s College, which later became the University of Toronto.
In 1854, William Eakin, a carriage maker from the hamlet of Cashel, purchased the land from King’s College. William and his brother, George, established a carriage factory opposite their residence. George Eakin changed careers after a while to become a merchant. He was appointed post master, serving the community from 1864 to 1875, and Township Clerk and Treasurer from 1860 to 1874. William Eakin built the Unionville Planning Mill in 1873, and was elected Township Reeve in 1873 and from 1879 to 1882. For a period of time, George Eakin resided in the house with William Eakin and his family, and since he served as Secretary-Treasurer to the Township Council, the windows were barred and doors padlocked to protect the municipal funds held there. The house also served as a lock-up jail. Carved initials of prisoners are still inscribed on one of the supporting beams in the basement.
The McKinnon-Eakin House is a well-preserved example of a Georgian Tradition, one and a half storey cottage. It is the 2nd oldest house in Unionville and the 17th oldest house in Ontario. It is one of the few built in the simple Georgian vernacular style. The house has a balanced three bay front with a central doorcase that features a four-panelled door, a multi-paned transom light, and a Classic Revival surround with robust flat pilasters and entablature. The windows retain their original wood, six over six double hung sash, moulded surrounds and projecting sills. Ground floor windows are larger than those lighting the half storey. The gable roof has a medium pitch, with wide eaves and cornice returns. In 2012 Ron Minken, a 5th generation Canadian, recognized the beauty of the McKinnon-Eakin House and acquired it for a law firm that he had founded in 1990. In 2013 and 2014 he did a complete restoration and renovation of this Historical Monument. Minken Employment Lawyers are proud to have moved into the Mckinnon-Eakin House, circa 1835, in 2014 in celebration of their 25th year of law practice. Visitors are always welcomed.