Ruthven Park is a Greek Revival mansion overlooking the Grand River a short drive from Cayuga, Ontario. It is open to the public. There is a small fee to enter the museum or you can visit the grounds free of charge.
David Thompson was born 4 February 1793, in Stamford, Upper Canada. David Thompson was 19 years old when the War of 1812 broke out. After enlisting he became Sergeant in the 2nd Regiment of the Lincoln Militia. He fought at Queenston, Beaver Dams, Chippewa, Lundy's Lane, Fort Erie as well as participating in the taking of Fort Niagara, Black Rock and Buffalo.
After the war of 1812, David Thompson settled in Wainfleet, an area in the southern Niagara region bounded on one side by Lake Erie and on the east side by the Welland River. Here Thompson worked as a contractor for William Hamilton Merritt during the construction of the First Welland Canal.
When Cayuga North Township was opened for settlement in 1831, he was among the first settlers, securing Lots 1 and 2 on the Grand River at the first rapids. Thompson had intentions of investing in the Grand River Navigation Company. Eventually he would become the Director and own 25% shares in the company.
In 1834 he built a saw mill, followed by a gristmill in 1836. David Thompson was instrumental in the development of the community known as Indiana. In 1845 Thompson purchased 431 acres from the Crown and began construction of a Greek Revival mansion, located just south of Indiana on top of the bluffs. It was located high enough so that Mr. Thompson had a clear view of the activities taking place on the Grand River below. Five generations of his family would continue to live at this estate which became known as Ruthven.
Today Ruthven sits on 1500 acres of lush Carolinian forest. Presently the site is owned by The Lower Grand River Land Trust Inc., a non-government, not-for-profit volunteer-based organization. Visitors can explore the grounds year round. Except for a few old houses and a cemetery the once thriving village of Indiana is no longer visible.
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