Historic Ireland House in Burlington at Oakridge Farm is very special for one key reason – almost all of its contents on display are original. With approximately 90% having been previously used by the Ireland family, the furniture, décor and daily items make Ireland House a rarity in North America.
This is one of the reasons why it’s a must-visit in Burlington.
Our visit happened on a very rainy day as part of the #VisitBurlON media and blogger tour of Burlington. My husband Frank, and I were both invited to experience some of the key visitor attractions in the city we live in. After all, there’s always a reason to have a “staycation” and an indoor tour of one of the oldest homes in the region is perfect for a rainy day.
Built in 1837 with a few additions over the subsequent 178 years, it housed several generations of the Ireland family before being sold in the 1980s to the City of Burlington. It’s been preserved as a museum, showcasing rural life in the township of Nelson (as the area was called back then) and the region.
Touring Ireland House, you learn how household technology has changed in the past 180 years. You see how people prepared foods, bathed, warmed their homes, slept, clothed themselves, entertained and generally sustained themselves. Everybody had a role to play – from children to elders.
The tour takes you through various time periods and how cooking changed – from the basement kitchen with a fireplace to the 1920s kitchen. The tour guide will show you some of the original items used to make food including the butter churn.
Although the Ireland’s were not extremely wealthy, they were well-off enough to be considered successful farmers. From the elegant sitting room and library to the dining room with a piano and stylish dining table, the Irelands were able to entertain guests fashionably.
When not entertaining family and friends, the Ireland family ran their farm, producing much of what they needed. As our tour guide pointed out, in many occasions, the children in the family were the ones doing most of the menial work (like taking out the “gazunder” – aka the chamber pot).
Resting after a hard day’s work
The second floor of the Ireland House was reserved for sleeping quarters. You get to see the master bedroom and the children’s rooms. Only one pipe from the stove on the main floor heated the second floor. To keep warm on a cold night, you had to heat up the bed with a heating pan and then snuggle up under the thick comforter.
There are several activities for kids that Ireland House puts on for kids – it’s a great spot for birthday parties, where kids learn how to cook using the old fireplace.
Visiting Ireland House:
2168 Guelph Line
Tuesday – Friday: 10:00am-4:30pm
Last tour leaves at 4:00 pm
Evenings and other times by appointment
Cost: Adult: $ 4.50; Senior / Student: $ 4.00; Child (5-12 years): $ 2.25; Child (Under 5 years): Free
Have you visited Ireland House in Burlington? What was your favourite part of visiting this home?