Notice of Proposed Amendment to Designation By-law 1988-077

Thu, 03 Oct 2019

On June 12, 2017, Oakville Town Council resolved to amend Heritage Designation By-law 1988-077, “A by-law to designate certain property as a property of historical and architectural value and interest (114 Balsam Drive)” for the following property under Section 30.1 of the Ontario Heritage Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. O.18, as amended:

Balsam Lawn
114 Balsam Drive, Oakville, Ontario

Purpose and Effect of Proposed Amendment

The proposed amendment of By-law 1988-077, “A by-law to designate certain property as a property of historical and architectural value and interest (114 Balsam Drive)” is to clarify the statement explaining the property’s cultural heritage value or interest and the description of the property’s heritage attributes, to correct the legal description of the property and to revise the language of the by-law to make it consistent with the requirements of the Ontario Heritage Act.

The following is the Statement of Cultural Heritage Value or Interest to be added:

Historical Value or Associative Value

Balsam Lawn has cultural heritage value for its historical associations with William Wass, a well-known local businessman. His many roles included: auctioneer, estate agent, stockbroker, notary public, accountant, acting magistrate, and farmer. In 1860, Wass and his wife Mary purchased the original 100 acre farm property, bounded by what is now Lakeshore Road, Allan Street, Macdonald Road, and Chartwell Road. Several years after building a 1 ½ storey farmhouse known as ‘Sunny Bank’, William quit farming and relocated the house farther north on the farm. They sold portions of the farm to fund the construction of the current house in 1878. The property remained in the Wass family through daughter Rebecca, a wellknown business woman and philanthropist who remained in the house until her death in 1925.

The property is also associated with Cortlandt Freer and his wife Alice who lived on the property from the 1920s to the 1950s. A retired bank manager, Cortlandt had a dahlia farm on the property and named many of his varieties after local Oakville citizens. He maintained beautiful gardens around the house and named the property ‘Balsam Lawn’ for the large collection of balsam trees which, among pine and spruce trees, completely enveloped the property, making it barely visible from Lakeshore Road.

Design Value or Physical Value

The property is considered to have heritage value for its 1878 two-storey frame house built by master builder William Lee. While the house is decorated in the Italianate style, its symmetrical façade and low-sloped gable roof are remnants of the earlier Georgian period. The more intricate details indicative of the Italianate style include the paired cornice brackets with drop pendants, bay windows with bracketed cornice, arched windows, and elaborate hooded door surround. Unique to the era and the architectural style, Wass chose to build a frame house with clapboard siding rather than the more common brick being used at the time.

These architectural features have heritage value as excellent surviving examples of their kind and as a testament to the builder’s craftsmanship and skills. The building is also significant as it is representative of William Wass himself — the design flaunted his financial success while retaining an air of propriety and solemnity.

Contextual Value

The property has contextual heritage value as a landmark home within the neighbourhood and along Lakeshore Road. The property is physically and historically linked to its surroundings and is a recognizable feature along the historically significant Lakeshore Road.

Prior to European settlement of this area, the lands were used by the ancestors of the Mississaugas of the Credit. The property is contextually significant as a reminder of not only the development of the area by Oakville’s early residents like William Wass, but also of the land’s association with Indigenous peoples for centuries prior to European settlement.

Description of Heritage Attributes

Key features of the property which embody the cultural heritage value of the Balsam Lawn house include the following attributes, as they relate to the north, east, south, and west exterior elevations of the two-storey frame house:

  • The orientation of the house to Lakeshore Road;
  • The two-storey T-shape form of the building with low pitched gable roof;
  • The horizontal wood cladding including associated wood corner trim;
  • Decorative wood cornice with paired brackets and drop pendants, wood soffits, and wood fascia;
  • The fenestration of the windows on the east, south and west walls;
  • Projecting bay windows on the east, south and west elevations, including their shape and dimensions and all associated wood panels, trim, brackets, fascia, and soffits;
  • All of the historic 1/1 and 2/2 wood arched windows, including all associated wood sills, wood hood moulds, wood trim, and operable wood louvered shutters; and
  • The front entrance, including arched hooded door surround with decorative wood elements and large scrolled brackets, wood semi-circular transom window with etched glass, wood panelled door with oval window, and large operable wood louvered shutters.

The designation does not include the following elements of the house: the one-storey enclosed porch on the east side of the house and the one-storey enclosed porch on the west side of the house.

The following is the amended Legal Description:

In the Town of Oakville in the Regional Municipality of Halton, the property description is as follows:

Balsam Lawn
114 Balsam Drive

Any objection to this notice of proposed amendment must be filed no later than November 4, 2019. Objections should be directed to the Town Clerk, 1225 Trafalgar Road, Oakville, Ontario L6H 0H3.

Any inquiries may be directed to Carolyn Van Sligtenhorst, heritage planner at 905-845-6601, ext. 3875 (TTY 905-338-4200), or by email at

The last date to file a notice of objection is November 4, 2019.