Modern Mississauga and Heritage Mississauga have come together to present an ongoing series called “Way Back Wednesday.”
We’ll share information about the history of Mississauga here and answer your questions.
Today’s topic is the Centenary Anniversary of Mississauga's Riverwood
2019 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Parker-Chappell House, also known as Riverwood. The story of Riverwood, the house, connects with the Parker family. William Ruston Percival “Percy” Parker, a Toronto lawyer, was born July 5, 1872 in Brantford, Ontario. His wife, Ida Margaret Kerr, was born in 1878, and both came from affluent families. Ida and Percy had had three children: an infant daughter, who died in June 1901, Ruston (born 1906), and Margaret (“Maggie”, born 1908). Ida’s younger sister was Estelle Muriel Kerr, a respected painter and critic.
Percy Parker bought the property that is now Riverwood, here in historic Mississauga, in 1913 as a summer retreat for his family. Ida named the property “Riverwood” after the Credit River and surrounding woods. In 1913 it was a difficult chore to reach the property. Burnhamthorpe Road was an unpaved rural route, locally referred to as the “Back Line” or “Rogers Road”, and did not yet cross the river.
The property was located on a high plateau overlooking the Credit River Valley. The Parkers first rebuilt an earlier stone house on the property (known as the MacEwan House today). The Parkers spent parts of six summers at this cottage until the “big house” was built in 1919.
After the First World War armistice, Percy hired the architectural firm of Mathers and Haldenby of Toronto to design a grand country house in an “Arts and Crafts” style, considered quite fashionable at the time. The house was finished in July 1919 and used primarily as a summer home until 1927 when the Parkers sold their Toronto home in Rosedale and moved permanently to Riverwood.
The Riverwood estate was featured in the Canadian Homes and Gardens magazine in May of 1929. Ida was well known in society for her grand social parties, for which the main room of Riverwood was purposefully designed. One of the family’s frequent guests at Riverwood was politician William Lyon Mackenzie King. King is known to have visited the property on at least three occasions, in 1921, 1925 and 1929. According to family memory, a bedroom was set aside for King in the house.
After the death of Percy Parker in 1936, Ida Parker gradually sold pieces of Riverwood until the main house sat on only a few acres. When she found the house to be too much to maintain, Ida Parker sold the property to Grace and Hyliard (Hyl) Chappell in 1954. Today Riverwood comprises 150 acres and is co-owned by the City of Mississauga and the Credit Valley Conservation (CVC), and is home to The Riverwood Conservancy.
In honour of the 100th Anniversary of Riverwood, on Saturday, October 5 the 18th annual “Haunted Mississauga” heritage tour will bring the stories and people of Riverwood, featuring actors portraying people from the past in a highly entertaining, improvisational evening of live history! One night only, tours begin at 7pm and space is limited: https://heritagemississauga.com/haunted-mississauga/