The Auchmar Estate

Auchmar was built in 1854 on land that Buchanan had purchased two years previously. Its name was taken from the Auchmar estate on Loch Lomond, Scotland, which Buchanan’s family had owned. Over the years the magnificent house was visited by such notables as Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir Allan MacNab, Pope John Paul II (when he was Cardinal) and the Prince of Wales during an 1860 Royal visit. Auchmar still stands on 10 acres of an eighty-six acre spread that Buchanan called Clairmont Park. It was considered an elegant example of gothic revival architecture with its arched windows, eleven chimneys, gables, and French doors.

  • 1882 construction began on Auchmar and became the home of Isaac Buchanan.
  • After Buchanan’s death Auchmar was sold to Captain Trigge.
  • In 1900 James Buchanan, son of Isaac Buchanan, purchased Auchmar and was the owner until 1926.
  • In 1926 Auchmar was purchased  by A.Y. Young
  • In 1943 the Young Family rented Auchmar to the Royal Canadian Air Force and was converted to a convalescent hospital for WW11 veterans. It has been reported that the Young family had planned to move back into Auchmar after the war, but when they saw the surgical scrub-down it had been subjected to they changed their minds.
  • In 1945 the Hungarian Sisters of Social Service purchased Auchmar for $32,500.
  • It is reported that in 1949 the City of Hamilton bought a large portion of the Auchmar land from King George VI for $1.  As a result, the Auchmar estate is now comprised of nine acres compared to an original 190.
  • July 1997 Alexandra Langs and Jane O’Fynn, members of the Hamilton Garden Club,  requested a meeting with Diane Dent,  then Chair, Municipal Heritage Committee (LACAC) to discuss their request to work with the Garden Club and to preserve Auchmar.
  • September 1998, the Garden Club president Brenda Yates, sent a letter to the the City of Hamilton requesting that Auchmar be preserved and remain in public ownership.

Summer 1999, Ward 8 Councillor Frank D’Amico, met and toured Auchmar with Monica Buchanan Starkey (great granddaughter or great niece of Isaac Buchanan), Jane O’Flynn, Hamiton Garden Club, Hank Wroblewski, City of Hamilton employee and Diane Dent to discuss preservation.

  • About 1999 Auchmar was purchased by DeSantis Homes for approximately 2 million dollars.
  • In 1999 following a meeting between Mr. DeSantis and Diane Dent a swap between Auchmar and serviced city lands on the east mountain was discussed. The following morning the lawyer to Mr. DeSantis and Councillor William McCulloch met to confirm interest in that swap.
  • 1999, the City of Hamilton took ownership of the Auchmar Estate.
  • 1999, the entire nine (9) acre Auchmar estate was designated by Hamilton City Council under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act. That same year, the Ontario Heritage Foundation (now the Ontario Heritage Trust) placed a binding provincial easement on Auchmar.
  • 2000, the Auchmar Millenium Fund Organization was founded by Dr. Richard and Mrs. Eileen Butson.  Funds from subscribers were used to erect a plaque to commemorate the life of Isaac Buchanan, his contribution to Hamilton and to celebrate the construction of Auchmar.
  • From 2000 until the present, the Friends of Auchmar and an interim board of directors have organized meetings with MP David Sweet, MPP Andrea Horvath, and then MPP Sophia Aggelonitis to confirm government interest in and support for the preservation of Auchmar. Meetings have also taken place with Tim McCabe, Anna Bradford, Neil Everson, several councilors, city staff , the Ontario Heritage Trust and interested citizens to discuss preservation issues and to provide tours of  the Auchmar Manor House and the grounds. (These groups provide an example of how private and public interests can achieve great results with cooperation and compromise and thus serve the public interest.)
  • 2008, Heritage Hamilton Foundation under the direction of Dr. and Mrs. Grant Head, founders of and current directors of HHF proposed the creation of the Auchmar Challenge Fund which offers a $25,000. 00 matching grant.
  • April 2012.Approval from Tm McCabe for HHF to proceed was received in writing.
  •  June 2012, The Friends of Auchmar was officially established and a board of directors elected. A membership drive is now in place and a website soon to be unveiled.

At this meeting and throughout this process, Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead has expressed support and interest in the preservation of the Auchmar Estate and in keeping the entire property in public ownership.

  • July 2012 – Terry Whitehead confirmed at City Council the announcement he made at a public meeting of the Friends that he would donate $25,000 from his ward budget to the rehabilitation of Auchmar.
  • October 2012 – the Ontario Historical Society approved The Friends of Auchmar Incorporation and By-Laws…

October 30, The Friends of Auchmar, held the first Annual General Meeting. The guest speaker was Carolyn Samko, Senior Project Manager, Heritage Facilities and Capital Planning, Tourism & Culture Division of Economic Development.