March 23rd, 2018
A Close Tie to the Canadian Railway at Fallingbrook

A Close Tie to the Canadian Railway at Fallingbrook

If you travel east from Victoria Park Ave. you quickly arrive at Stop 2, Fallingbrook Road.

Here on the south side of Kingston you mostly see practical bungalows of a 1940s or 50s vintage. But one home stands out with its mansard roof, cedar shakes, a frame of exposed Tudor-style beams and foundation of limestone. This house was built more than a century ago as the gatehouse of a grand estate, whose owner named it Fallingbrook.

The owner was Sir Donald Mann, a self-made Canadian railway baron, who built Fallingbrook as a stately Tudor castle in 1907. The current Kingston Road gatehouse captures the style of Mann's baronial marvel. His Fallingbrook estate was situated to the south of Kingston on the forested escarpment above a secluded ravine that is still visible across from Courcelette Public School.

The Making of a Rail Baron

The Fallingbrook estate home featured rare antiques, fine art, Chippendale furniture and European tapestries. The landscaping reflected the dramatic northern settings where Mann had made his fortune. He was a railway engineer, who parleyed his concessions building portions of the Canadian Pacific railway into a business empire.

Starting in 1895 Mann partnered with William Mackenzie to build the Canadian Northern Railway. They had come together as a team working on Canada's first transcontinental line, the CPR. After the last spike was driven in 1885, they won contracts building branch lines that they aggressively linked into a network. Canadian Northern was to become Canada's second transcontinental line when it was completed in 1915. For their great business successes they were both knighted in 1911.

End of a Golden Era

The First World War changed the business climate in Canada, and Mann and Mackenzie were slow to adapt. They lost control of Canadian Northern in 1917 – it has since become CN. Sir Donald Mann's grand Fallingbrook estate burned to the ground over eleven hours on January 26, 1930. After fire was discovered by his servant, Mann at seventy years of age, wet and covered in ice, frantically directed the fire brigades from Scarborough and Toronto's Main Street fire hall to no avail. The home was so far from water mains that the pumps failed as the glorious estate house burned to the ground. Portions of its foundation are still visible in the rear of properties on Lynndale Road.

The Creation of Victoria Park

Sir Donald Mann chose the name Fallingbrook for his estate after a more modest home called "Falling Brook," which was built in 1844 on the same ravine by its first European owner, the Reverend Charles Winstanley. Rev. Winstanley, a retired Anglican curate in poor health, had served the Wigginton parish in Oxfordshire, England, but died in 1847.

After the pastor's death, the Falling Brook home passed to Mrs. Winstanley, while the estate's western 50 acres passed through sons, Edward and Orlando Winstanley, to Mr. Peter Paterson. Paterson built an estate home, Blantyre Park, on his property, and leased the lake frontage to the Victoria Park Company.

They built the namesake, turn-of-the-century amusement park on what is now the grounds of the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant. Paterson's Blantyre Park estate later became a Roman Catholic boys' vocational school, the forerunner of Neil McNeil High School.

Sir Donald Mann

Born 1853 - Acton, ON; died 1934 - Toronto, ON.
After first trying his hand at farming, Donald Mann worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway in Manitoba as well as in British Columbia's Rocky Mountains. There he met William Mackenzie, with whom he would purchase the Lake Manitoba Railway & Canal Company. Subsequent expansion of the company's routes led to the creation of the Canadian Northern Railway. Donald Mann was master planner for the company that built Canada's third transcontinental railway. After Canadian Northern was absorbed in the merger that resulted in the creation of Canadian National Railways, Mann turned his attention to the mining sector.
Donald Mann and partner William Mackenzie oversaw construction of Canada's third transcontinental railway. He was a managing director of the Canadian Northern Railway during excavation of the world's first railway tunnel wired with electricity: the Mount Royal Tunnel in Montréal, Québec.

Sir William Mackenzie

Born 1849 - Kirkfield, ON; died 1923 - Toronto, ON.
William Mackenzie was a railway entrepreneur best known for his partnership with Donald Mann in the purchase of the Lake Manitoba Railway & Canal Company, later to become the Canadian Northern Railway. His role in the business was to secure financing. In 1915, their railway became the third to complete a route across Canada from east to west. The Canadian Northern Railway was one of several companies that were merged to form Canadian National Railways, now known as CN.
William Mackenzie and partner Donald Mann oversaw construction of Canada's third transcontinental railway. He was a managing director of the Canadian Northern Railway during excavation of the world's first railway tunnel wired with electricity: the Mount Royal Tunnel in Montréal, Québec.

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