Original farmland now bears a park named in honour of the Bradley-Craig family

(The Bradley-Craig family were commemorated on Thursday, September 7 at the official naming ceremony for the Bradley-Craig Park. Welcoming the family and friends were l-r: Councillor Glen Gower, Brian Craig, Norma Craig, Mayor Mark Sutcliffe. Photos: Stittsville Central)

It was a typical hot farming day when everyone was gathered and the ceremony took place on Thursday, September 7 to officially commemorate the Bradley-Craig family with a park named in their honour. The park is located on the land that had been farmed by the family since 1824. On hand to celebrate the naming were members of the family and friends who were welcomed by Mayor Mark Sutcliffe and Councillor Glen Gower. Norma Craig, the last descendant of the Bradley family and son Brian, the guest speaker, were once again on the land where they both grew up in their different eras. Also in attendance was Marguerite Evans, a Bradley descendant, who initiated the process to have the park named in honour of the family.

(Family in attendance at the commemorative park naming with Mayor Sutcliffe and Councillor Gower were: Marguerite Evans, Brian Craig, Norma Craig and Lorna McCarthy.)

What was once known as the ‘big field’, shared guest speaker Brian Craig, ran from the back of the barn to almost Fernbank Road and now has a section officially named in the Bradley-Craig family’s name – the Bradley-Craig Park. In his speech, Brian reminisced of days on the farm and how proud his parents were of their heritage and all they had accomplished. It was a bittersweet day for the family when the farm was sold.

The park has a fitting farm theme with a tractor to climb aboard, farm themed signage on the play structures, a picnic shelter, a basketball court and a splash pool. Located on Craneshill Road, it is a impressive park for families to explore and imagine life on a farm.

A plaque at the park site was unveiled, reflecting on the history of the family and farm:
From 1824-2006, five generations of the Bradley-Craig family played a vital role in the region by building community, providing land for a school, serving in municipal government, and in the military.

The family improved mixed farming technology, techniques, the land, and crop yield, pioneered field tile drainage, started a dairy, bred award winning animals, and provided employment. The large “bank” barn remains a Stittsville icon.

When travellers drive down Hazeldean Road, the historic pioneer craftmanship of the red bank barn is a remarkable landmark for all to see. A designated heritage property, the barn and house are fond memories for those who grew up in the area and newcomers who have become to love our ‘big red barn’. It also prompts one to recall the influence that the Bradley-Craig families had in our community – from the ever-familiar NOR-L Swiss sign hung proudly on the farmgate in recognition of the award-winning Brown Swiss cattle raised by Eldon Craig and often seen in the fields; the introduction of new farming technology for milking the cows; establishment of the Springwell Dairy; sponsorship of hockey and broomball teams; provision of employment for locals; a home for the hired man; school land; military service; health care service providers; and their service to the municipality in politics. The Bradley-Craig family has always generously given back to their community.

September 7 was a day to officially name a park, but there was much more to the special ceremony, it was the local history and philanthropy of the Bradley-Craig families that was recognized and remembered by those who attended and is now preserved in a park name on the land that they once farmed.

A bit of history – The farm, at one time 120-acres, dates back to a land grant given to John Colbert for the property located at Concession XI, Lot 29W, now known as 590 Hazeldean Road. John and William Colbert, along with their families were part of the Talbot Party Emigration in 1818 coming to Canada, and settling in the Goulbourn area.

In October, 1821, two brothers, Joshua and Jacob Bradley, petitioned for land when they arrived in Upper Canada from County Wexford, Ireland. In 1824, the brothers received their Crown land in Goulbourn Township. Joshua received his land from John Colbert, Sr., taking over what is today the location of the farmhouse and barn of the Bradley-Craig farm. Jacob received the west part of Lot 18 on Concession XI (Hazeldean Road). The farmstead remained in the same family from 1824 until 2006 when it was sold to a developer by Eldon and Norma (nee Bradley) Craig.

The barn was constructed in 1873 and in 2010, was designated heritage by the City under the Ontario Heritage Act and is on the City’s Heritage Watch List. The farm was recently re-categorized as a medium risk property. The Gothic Revival style farmhouse was built during the 1870s. The farmhouse is a red brick, two-and-a-half-storey home with gingerbread trim along the eaves, decorative woodwork highlighting the front verandah, and a rare blue and purple glass transom window over the front door. As farmers in the former Goulbourn Township became more affluent, they constructed more elaborate and prominent houses that is evidenced in the Bradley-Craig house.

(The aerial shot of the Bradley-Craig farm in 2009)

3 thoughts on “Original farmland now bears a park named in honour of the Bradley-Craig family”

  1. It indeed was a wonderful event to be able to commemorate the Bradley/Craig family’s many contributions to the community and to officially unveil the park sign in their honour! Even the weather cooperated. To have Norma and Brian Craig as well as extended family in attendance made the event even more significant.
    The Bradley/Craig farm was considered to be a “model farm” and the rich, well-drained soil was some of the best in the township, if not, the entire county. The heritage-designated red bank barn, built by John Cummings after the great fire of 1870 involved the community coming together in a barn-building “bee.” The barn is a magnificent structure, functionally designed, and featuring great architecture.

  2. Back in the 1980s, former Gourlbourn Township minutes show an increasing goal of the Stittsville community and its council was to take a leadership role to preserve its heritage properties, agricultural, environmental, wetland, and mineral resources in order “to contribute to improving the quality of life experienced by … residents.” In 1995 then Mayor Paul Bradley and council created new by-laws “to preserve areas, sites, buildings, or structures of historical, architectural or archaeological merit.” Stittsville’s 1993 Philosophy of Development emphasized it is “older buildings that represent the rural nature of its heritage.”
    When the Bradley/Craig farmstead received its heritage designation in 2010, Jay Baltz, former chair of the Ottawa Built Heritage Advisory Committee, argued that the cost of preserving the barn “is small relative to the overall benefit.”
    David Flemming, Heritage Ottawa, pointed out in 2010, “intensification is a reason to include the barn in the designation, as the neighbourhood will be home to thousands of people, many of whom will have no appreciation of the City’s agricultural or rural heritage.”
    Back in a 1983 Harvard Business Review, Jonathan King and Robert E. Johnson (University of Michigan professors of architecture) stated: “prudent executives find the rationale for rehabilitation of abandoned buildings particularly appealing…more can be gained, at less cost.” “A number of successful conversions demonstrate that …drawbacks can be overcome if…the principal actors have the imagination to grasp the opportunities.” Moreover, “Quality of the work environment has also been considerably enhanced in the remodeled building.”

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