Aerial Photographs of the Holyrood Estate Property, 1950s
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- Two aerial photographs taken by Roy Lessels in the early 1950's of the Holyrood Estate property, focussing on the caretaker's cottage to the east of the main house. You can see a subdivision is quite close to the old estate apple orchard (Spy apples) by the cottage. Holyrood estate was off the Lakeshore Road West, at the foot of Dorval Drive by St. Jude's Cemetery. The house address was 55 Holyrood Dr. It was sold to developers in 1954.
Roy has written, "Holyrood was approximately 17 acres with a long water frontage footage. Entering the property through the two front entrance pillars, you drove through the bush (app.7 acres) to the main house and grounds (app. 5 acres). The grounds keepers cottage was on (app. 5 acres) of field and orchard behind St. Jude's Cemetery. In the years to follow, Dad planted many pine, spruce and cedars in the orchard and fields. when we left the cottage in 1954, the area was heavily treed."
Gordon Lefebvre, owner of the property, was Vice-President of the General Motors Pontiac Division, in Pontiac Michigan. His wife, Kathleen, was an Oakville girl. Her sister was the wife of local doctor, and first Chief of Staff of the Oakville-Trafalgar Memorial Hospital, Dr. E.P. Soanes (affectionately known as "Soapy"). The January 10, 1929 Acton Free Press newspaper, on page 1, column 4, noted that the Lefebvres purchased Holyrood for $60,000.
The estate property to the west of Holyrood was that of the Hindmarsh family of the Toronto Star newspaper. Harvey Skoog's farm was another neighbour in the early days, Roy remembers picking strawberries there. Their house was on the northwest corner of Dorval Drive and Lakeshore Road west, with the barn a short distance behind the house. Daughter Thelma Skoog was a teacher at the old Central School. St. Jude's Cemetery is on this farm property now. The Brady sisters also lived nearby, sharing their "right hand man", Andy (Andrew) Jackson, with Harvey Skoogs. Andy's brother, John Jackson, also worked for Harvey Skoogs and was comfortable enough with the Lessels that he would often let himself into the cottage before work mornings and get the fire going for Alice Lessels. (It was heated by a coal and wood furnace that sat in the living room as there was no basement.) Roy walked past the Brady house on his way to Westwood school. The Brady house was on the southwest corner of Brookfield Road and Lakeshore extending down to the lake, possibly a single story stucco residence, with a barn on the property. All the families had apple trees but the Brady's crop was raspberries. The Fearman property separated the Brady's from the Skoogs strawberry patch on Lakeshore Road.
Roy remembers the great toboggan hill on the southeast corner of Brookfield and Lakeshore. He thinks it was town property at the time but it was known as Brady's toboggan hill. He says, "I spent a lot of fun time on that hill as [did] a good many of the kids in the neighbourhood."
- Information and photographs of Holyrood house, the Lefebvre family and the history of the property in the Trafalgar Township Historical Society digital collection were shared by Mr. Roy Lessels in May 2016. Roy's father was the head grounds keeper for the estate from 1929 to 1945, in the employ of Gordon Lefebvre, and again from 1955-1969 for David Knapp. The images with notes remain the property of Mr. Lessels.
The "Groups of Related Records" link will take you to the other records, maps of the property and photographs of the estate people in Mr. Lessels photo album. In particular, compare these aerial photographs to the property maps of the estate in the collection.
- Roy's photo album note: I took these two photographs (photographe) during the 1950s from a plane owned by Ted Squires and Milton Farrow. Ted was flying the plane during my picture taking. J.R.& L.
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Trafalgar Township Historical Society
Trafalgar Township Historical Society Sponsor: Jeff Knoll, Local & Regional Councillor for Oakville Ward 5 – Town of Oakville/Regional Municipality of Halton