John McKenzie House and Parkview Neighbourhood Garden. Image courtesy Shen Liu.The John McKenzie House, a three-storey brick structure, located north of Sheppard Avenue, just east of Yonge Street, has a long and rich history. It was constructed in 1913 as the second Willowdale home of a pioneer family. The house is located on lot 18, concession 1, East Yonge Street, on property deeded to Jacob Cummer in 1801. In 1884, a portion of the original property was sold to Philip McKenzie (John's father) who was an English immigrant trained as a carpenter and casket maker.

Philip and his wife, Sarah Thompson, of Whitchurch Township, moved originally into the old Cummer farmhouse, a one and one-half storey brick Georgian style dwelling. This house, built about 1840, was located between Parkview and Norton Avenues and faced west to Yonge Street. When Philip McKenzie died, John ran the farm and specialized in Holstein cattle until the local economy for farmers began to deteriorate. John then decided to subdivide the farm, and in 1912, registered the "Empress Subdivision" that was to become the heart of modern east Willowdale as the area was transformed from a rural village to a suburban community.

In 1913, John and his wife, Eva, chose a large lot on the rise of land just east of Yonge Street on Parkview Avenue as the site for their new home. From their farm, they retained the 1907 brick milk house, and built a stable in 1915 and a coach house in 1918. The OHS has restored all four buildings and the interior of the coach house has been renovated for adaptive use as a community program and exhibit area.Black and white photo of John McKenzie House, taken circa 1919

Built in a style which has been described as Queen Anne Revival, Arts and Crafts, and Edwardian, this red brick house contains 12 rooms and 3 bathrooms. The front of the house is profiled by a grand L-shaped, wrap-around verandah with stylized Doric columns. A large attached coach house was converted to accommodate automobiles and has a recreation room above. Significant interior features include the centre hall plan, a vestibule door and sidelights with bevelled leaded glass, a large leaded art glass window which lights the landing of the main staircase, two sunrooms, panelled doors and wainscotting, strip hardwood flooring and radiators.

The Ontario Historical Society is committed to restoring and maintaining this property, and has a long term partnership with the City of Toronto - the house, milk house, stable and coach house have been designated under the Ontario Heritage Act for their provincially significant historical and architectural features. 

 2013 marked the 100th Anniversary of the construction of John McKenzie House!
The OHS published a special edition of the OHS Bulletin, featuring new and re-published content about the restoration of the house: 
Adjacent to the John McKenzie House is the volunteer-run communal organic market garden.  Learn more about the Parkview Neighbourhood Garden.


34 Parkview Avenue
Willowdale, Ontario, M2N 3Y2

P. 416-226-9011 | F. 416-226-2740

Toll-free: 1-866-955-2755
E.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Make a donation in
support of the
Ontario Historical