Rouge Valley Conservation Centre

Rouge Valley Conservation Centre


Pearse House History

To donate to the Rouge Valley Conservation Centre click on the button below:

The James Pearse Jr. House (1893)

By Murray Johnston

The Pearse family built their home on the banks of the Rouge River in 1869 (original structure); their underlying purpose was to provide shelter and comfort. This period, and also the later reconstruction period of 1893, of which the architectural features of the gable lines, unique brick veneer and interior boarding remain, are characterized by housing being built to meet the basic needs of the family.

The Pearse family was an integral part of the community, operating one of the many sawmills, which existed at that time on the Rouge. Through these efforts and the relationships they developed with their neighbouring families, the Pearse family was an influential participant in shaping the community. The Pearse family remained committed to their location and activity as demonstrated by the rebuilding of their early 1869 home in 1893 upon the exact same site.

We know the Pearse family rebuilt their home in 1893. As mentioned, they used the exact same site and did so partly to take advantage of the existing foundation. Additionally, beams and timbers were reused to capture a saving in material and labour. The interior boarding show varied lengths and widths of lumber. We recall that the Pearse family operated a sawmill, and therefore used the “odd cut” lumber for their own home, so they must have decided not to waste material, which probably could not be easily sold.

The family of James Pearse Jr. and Amelia (Stainton) Pearse, circa 1902. From left to right, Reuben, possibly Mary, Amelia, George, James (Asa), possibly Rosa Burke (later Mrs. Asa Pearse), James (builder of the Pearse house) and Homer. Taken on the north side of the house, this early photograph clearly shows the unusual pattern brick treatment.

The Pearse House, a Rouge Valley landmark. Well known to the many visitors of the Metro Toronto Zoo, this classic Ontario Farmhouse, with it’s colourful brickwork hidden beneath a coat of whitish paint, is the key to a fascinating chapter in the Rouge Valley’s history.

Click here to see photos of the Pearse House’s transformation into the Rouge Valley Conservation Centre.