The Early Years
Violet and Stewart Bennett bought Scotsdale Farm in
1938, and it was through their bequest to the Ontario Heritage Trust in 1982
that the Farm is preserved for future generations to enjoy. Situated on the
edge of the Niagara escarpment and accessible from Trafalgar Road, the
Farm is about eight km. north of the Georgetown area and 1.6 km. south of
The Early Years
Originally there were several entrances into
the main farm: the entrance into the Front Bush, now closed to vehicle traffic,
led into what is now a section of the Bennett Heritage Trail. A short distance
from this now closed front entrance on the crest of Blue Mountain Hill
was a huge stone at Scotsdale’s peak. At one time, on a clear day,
and before the pines on the hill below obscured the view, the blue of Lake
Ontario, nearly sixty kilometers (40 miles) away, could be seen while standing
on this stone. “Blue
The most used entrance during the early years was
the cinder road laid along the north edge of Scotsdale’s front field
facing the seventh line. Traces of this service road, which led to the
farm manager’s house, still remain. Although it is now gone, the first welcome,
for many decades, was a fine American elm which stood in the middle of
this gently rolling field.
The principal entrance now borders the south side
of this same field and leads more directly to the main house.
The American Elm (Photo by Mary Carey)
The Main House, 2010
(Photo by Janice Treciokas)
In the 1940’s, Scotsdale expanded from the original 1938 purchase of the
pioneer Cooke family homestead to include several other properties:
On the eighth line, the 100-acre Wylie
Place and the Shortill farm immediately south of it.
On the seventh line, the Brennan farm
located on the northeast corner of the sideroad above Silvercreek and on the
opposite side of the road, the (Miller) house and barn.
The Riddell bush property, which lay
between the Brennan Farm and the main farm, is now home to a section of the
The Harding Price Farm directly across
from Scotsdale’s front field on the seventh line was purchased in 1952. The purchase of these properties helped
accommodate the expanding farm operation and provided homes for the families of
the men who worked on the farm.
In 1943 Mr. Bennett hired Maurice Baker as herdsman
and shortly afterwards Mr. Baker became manager of Scotsdale. He was
instrumental in developing the purebred Shorthorn herd that won premier prizes
at the Royal Winter Fair and at the Chicago International Livestock Show.
Emerson Clarke followed as manager in 1961 and continued to develop the
renowned herd. Mr. Clarke retained the herd at the Farm after 1982.
The Early Years (development of the
After the war, Mr. Bennett
decided to purchase some purebred Shorthorn heifers in calf from Scotland. It was not a very safe passage for them
dodging mines in the Atlantic left from the war, but they all arrived safely.
From the several dozen cattle that Ontario shorthorn breeder, John Miller, had
brought to North America, Mrs. Bennett was given the courtesy of choosing the
last one of the twelve that Scotsdale would buy.
She chose Princess Deirdre, already in calf. Deirdre was the dam (mother) of Aspiration, the Bennett’s first grand
champion Shorthorn bull at the Royal Winter Fair in 1947.
Aspiration, with Maurice Baker at the halter
The original heritage
barn is in the background
Bronze of Aspiration. (Photo by Emma Rath)
(Photo by Mr. Bennett)
Mr. Bennett commissioned
noted artist and sculptor, Jacobine Jones, to do a bronze of
the prize-winning bull. Mr. Baker’s son, Grant Baker, who was five years old at
the time, watched Ms. Jones as she made the plaster cast of Aspiration on site
in the barnyard. Of the two bronzes made of Aspiration, one of them now belongs to Grant.
By the early 1950’s, both of
the preeminent breeding bulls, Aspiration, who was born at the Farm, and
Mayflower Ransom, purchased earlier from the Ontario Agricultural College had
become impotent. Artificial insemination was still not a well-established
practice at that time, so Mr. Bennett and Mr. Baker went to Scotland in 1952
and Mr. Bennett was persuaded by Mr. Baker to buy Calrossie Prefect at the
Perth sale. Mr. Bennett made the final
bid paying 6100 guineas for the
bull…quite a sum in those days. Some would say astronomical! A measure of
inbreeding followed in the expanding herd and Scotsdale continued to rack up
prizes at the Royal Winter Fair all
through the fifties
Mary Bennett Baker with Scotsdale Flower Victoria Calrossie Prefect:
Date: July 9, 1952, Photo taken by D. McElhinney. Photo taken by Strohmeyer & Carpenter
Compliments of Cockshutt Farm Equipment Ltd., Brantford, Ontario.
White Plains, New York
The white door seen in the photograph (left above)
is the south door of The New Barn, which
housed the breeding bulls. Inside, it assumed gallery proportions as a showcase
for the livestock. A wide corridor of impeccable cement was flanked on either
side by the livestock pens housing the bulls. With their massive heads and
their huge lumbering balls grazing the fresh straw, they were a formidable
Grand Champion Shorthorn Bulls of the Fifties
The two photographs (below) by Jim Rose were taken in the show ring at
the Royal Winter Fair
Mr. Bennett with
the trophy for Scotsdale Jupiter in 1956 Scotsdale wins Premier Breeder and Exhibitor in
Mr. Bennett holding the trophy. Scotsdale Jupiter,
the 1957 champion.
Mr. Bennett became
president of the Royal Winter Fair in 1953, after having served as vice
president for two years.
An article appeared in the
Financial Post in March of that year profiling Mr. Bennett.
Baker’s Scrapbook (copy of Post
Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto is the largest fair of its kind in
the world. This coming November it
celebrates its 25th birthday.
Actually the Royal has been going longer than that, but during the war
it was suspended when the RCAF took over its buildings on the Canadian National
In the midst of all the planning is
farmer-industrialist Stewart Gordon Bennett who this week became president of
the Royal, after two years as a vice-president
Bennett also heads Beardmore & Co., which is one of Canada’s oldest leather
firms. It’s been operating since
1844. In addition, he is a director of
Dominion Stores, Chartered Trust, Phoenix Assurance, Canadian Bronze and
several other companies.
40 miles away from his downtown Toronto office on dignified Victorian Front St.
he’s a farmer.
it’s as a farmer that he heads the Royal.
15 years, Mr. Farmer Bennett has lived on his 600 rolling, wooded acres at
Georgetown. There he has developed a
prize-winning Shorthorn herd. Those
cattle are a pretty aristocratic bunch, and wear ribbons from the Royal and
Chicago. And when they come up for sale
they wear price tags like $2,550, and $4,800 and $5,700. Proud ones, they are.
the cattle on the Bennett farm take a backseat to the master of the bullpen—the
$20,000 1952 Supreme Grand Champion Bull which Bennett brought back from the
famous Shorthorn sale in Perth, Scotland.
was born in Toronto, 60 years ago. His
father was in the lumber business, at different times had mills throughout
parts of northern Ontario.
graduated from University of Toronto in engineering, then headed for Oxford to
study political economy.
was just nicely in England in 1914 when Europe’s political economy blew
up. And he joined the Royal
Engineers. At war’s end he came home to
Canada, a captain with an M.C. and a mention in dispatches. For six years he taught engineering at his
old alma mater, and in 1925 joined Beardmore’s.
has seen much of the world on business and pleasure trips; Australia, New
Zealand, Cuba, South America, Mexico, U.K. and Western Europe.
addition to his business and farming interests, he’s on the board of the
Toronto Art Gallery, and is chairman of the tariff committee of the Canadian
Manufacturers’ Association. He is an
Anglican, and a member of the York, Toronto, Toronto Gold, and University
from Evelyn Baker’s Scrapbook
photograph above would have been taken prior to the 1952 Perth sale where Mr. Bennett famously bought Calrossie
Prefect for 6100 guineas
Heifer Class winner at the
CNE is young Grant Baker of Scotsdale
Farms near Ballinafad, who
is presented with a trophy from the
Ontario Shorthorn Club by
Reford Gardhouse of Aberfeldy Farms,
The horses were a passion for Mr. Bennett and he bought the purebred
Arabians, Mihrima and Sahara, in Britain. Mihrima’s foal, Senob, was the first
horse born at the farm. Senob was known as Bones, which is Senob spelled
The Arabian horses with Mr.Bennett and Grant Baker at the halter. Betty Trott at the
halter with Bones.
Janice Baker and
Mary Ann Maxwell astride the horses
Arabians were purchased, the Bennetts had two Clydesdale horses, and in a taped
segment that has been transcribed, Mr. Baker recounts one occasion that lends
some flavour to the early years.
“I remember once I took them over to O. D. Vaughn’s
(Fallbrook Farm) (on the side road past
the eighth line, nearer to the ninth) …and hitched them up; we had all the
harnesses, the brass polished, the colours, the high tops and the bridge
That time Mr. and Mrs. Bennett had a guest out who
used to work with Walt Disney; and she'd had quite a good job. Well, I had the
horses out hitched and everything shining and she came down just before we were
about to go and looked at them and then she said "Who wouldn't be a
horse's ass if you could look like that."
The pond is a beautiful feature of Scotsdale. It is fed by Snow’s
creek from the north end of the property below the manager’s house. The pond was
created by a dam built just beyond the New Barn on the northeast side of the
cinder road. The dam was built to prevent flooding in the lower fields as the
flow tracks east and south. Below the dam there was a small bridge that the
various implements and trucks could cross to access the back bush and
fields. After the original bridge
collapsed, the Ontario Heritage Trust built a much sturdier one to replace
it. In the early years Alex Mitchell
snow ploughed the roads and kept them clear through the back bush to the eighth
line. The Adams children from the Shortill property and the Gates children from
Farm were able to walk through this back bush road to reach Blue
Mountain School on the seventh line. This walking route saved them a much
longer roundabout trek.
The wishing well, right at the edge of the pond opposite the New Barn,
is built of fieldstone and covered with a shingle roof. It has always been a favourite subject for
photographers. On the near side,
weeping willows, as they grew larger, draped their branches into the
water. In the black and white photo
below, (left), the dam is just visible beyond the water. In the early years,
Mr. Bennett stocked the pond with trout and the photo below (right) shows Grant
holding his catch with Mary beside him.
Mr. And Mrs. Bennett always had a series of Scottie dogs as their companions.
The dogs lived with them in the main house. Some were invariably called Hamish.
Bess was a favourite name for the female dogs.
Bess was also the name of their border collie, an invaluable outdoor dog
for herding the cattle. Scott, the male border collie, was her companion.
Scott (photo by Vytas Treciokas)
Mary And Scott ( photo by Vytas Treciokas)
Once, one of the Scotties, who had become blind, fled into the snows
of winter. It took a full morning and a full team of men to find him.
Finally, in the southernmost reaches of the farm nearer the side road
the eighth line, he was found alive sheltering under a snow bank
An unmarked hill corner of the south field opposite the main house and
just below the entrance to the front bush is where the dogs are
Some photographs from the early years
A 1940’s Easter Egg Hunt
Pamela (holding the reins) and Elizabeth
Bennett, nieces of Mr. Bennett.
was their home during the war years. Janice Baker is seated, left
A Summer Outing
A 1940’s Easter Egg
Skiing at Scotsdale. Mrs. Bennett,
center. Girls and Horses
Skiing at Scotsdale
left: Janice Baker, Mrs. Bennett, Mary Ann Maxwell
From left: Mary Baker,
Betty Trott, Barbara Adams
for this website include:
Reminiscences of Scotsdale by
Maurice and Evelyn Baker.
transcribed tape recordings)
of Shorthorn History” by Grant McEwan.
Financial Post, March of 1953
Baker Family photograph album
Ontario Heritage Trust
thanks to my sister, Mary Carey, and my brother,
Grant Baker, for their support in creating