Post Auchmar

After 1857 the economy in Upper Canada collapsed. One of those badly hit was Isaac Buchanan who had to sell Auchmar after several brushes with bankruptcy returning to live in the lower city. He lived at 95 James St. South where he passed away on October 1st 1883. The obituary in the Spectator of the next day was as extensive as Buchanan’s life and work. Auchmar itself stood vacant for several years.

By the time of Buchanan’s death Auchmar had passed into the hands of a Captain Trigg a military man from India we are told who was still occupying the home in 1897 when Mrs. Dick (Alma) Lauder pulled together a series of articles and pictures published by the Spectator under the title “Pen and Pencil sketches of Wentworth Landmarks”. The Captain described as a cultured English gentleman had made several repairs to the now 43 year old mansion and also made some changes to the usage of the rooms. The grand ball room had been changed by the Captain into a preaching room where he held services on numerous Sunday’s.

In 1900 Auchmar returned to the Buchanan family when Isaac’s fourth son James purchased the property. James was a successful banker in Pittsburg, Pa., USA. He funded the vestry-study and choir-room addition to the MacNab Street Presbyterian Church. He and several of his sisters including Elsie and Helen, lived at Auchmar until 1926, when it was sold to Alan V. Young. Helen Buchanan was the last surviving member of the family at her death in 1951.

Alan Vernon Young was a textile manufacturer. In 1915, he became president of the family business, the Hamilton Cotton Company, after both his parents were killed by the sinking of the ocean liner Lusitania. In 1928, Young took the company public and during the 1930’s depression manage to continue to operate. He was vice-president of the Landed Banking and Loan Company and director of Greening Wire and the Hamilton Gas and Fuel. In 1946, he purchased the Hamilton Street Railway for $1.4 million. He died in 1973.

The Young’s stayed in the home until the fall of 1943 when they rented it to the Royal Canadian Air Force for use as a rehabilitation centre. Next door to Auchmar was the Ontario Hospital who invited the recuperating airmen to use their almost new Recreation Hall which featured a gym, four bowling lanes in the basement, a billiard room, table tennis and a well used canteen. On the grounds an ice sheet suitable for curling, skating and hockey was provided in the winter, with lawn bowling, and tennis courts usable during the summer. On the grounds of Clairmont Park the RCAF carved out a nine hole golf course with the ninth green and 1st tee located a few feet away from the former Buchanan solarium on the north side of the home.

In 1945 with the war over at the invite of then Bishop Joseph Ryan the Hungarian Sisters of Social Service purchased the property, which they owned until 1999, for $32,500. The mansion and grounds were turned into a religious retreat called the Holy Spirit Centre. During the mid 60’s a chapel and dormitory were added to the north side of the house an extension many would like to see, go away.