Even before we ever laid eyes on the Drake Devonshire site and began a loving restoration of this historic building, The Drake had always brought a touch of country living to Toronto’s urban Drake Hotel setting. Our attraction to the County is really simple; how could we resist internationally acclaimed vineyards, amazing beaches, a robust winter season plus noteworthy artwork and resident artists? It’s also easy to explain our initial attraction to the magical Devonshire property. The space had the combination of good bones, historic architecture and its origins as an iron foundry. We’re thrilled to be smack in the centre of a wonderful town, with an uninterrupted view of Lake Ontario. We also love our neighbours, an impassioned local community.
From its industrial beginnings as an iron foundry to grander aspirations as the estate for one of Wellington's most prominent citizens, if the walls of our historic, lovingly restored Inn could talk, we're sure they'd tell a tale or two.
The Wellington Iron Foundry is built on the lakeside site of the Devonshire
Former traveling silverware salesman W.P. Niles, owner of W.P. Niles Seed Company, who later built the Wellington Electric Light and Power Company, which brought electricity to the village of Wellington, takes over the foundry, a plain brick building, and combines it with another building to create his home. Niles added many beautiful, period features including the solid oak staircase in the main hall, unique fireplaces, heavy pocket doors and the stained glass windows that remain today.
Upon W.P. Niles’ death, the house passed to a nephew of his wife – a man named Clinton – and from then on was known as Clinton Lodge. The Clintons began taking in tourists to stay in their spacious home during the summer season. During their time in the house they also raised purebred collie dogs and mink. The home had several residents after the Clintons, which was subsequently purchased by the Knox family and converted into the Clinton Lodge retirement residence.
The home and business was sold to Earl Greatrix
The home is purchased by Bill and Joyce Singleton and continues to operate as a beloved local nursing home.
The home is renamed Thistle Lodge. Thistle Lodge is sold to Larry and Karen Arbuckle of Oakville, Ontario, and renovated into the Devonshire Inn.
Kathy Kennedy and her husband David Littman buy the Devonshire and continue to operate it as a bed and breakfast called the Devonshire Inn on the Lake.
The Inn is sold to Drake Hotel Properties and renamed the Drake Devonshire Inn.
The Drake Devonshire reopens and hosts guests for an extended preview of a significant restoration process that includes the addition of the Dining Room, Deck, Pavilion, guest rooms, the Glass Box, and preservation of the main building – the Niles home – as well as many original features.
Drake Devonshire Inn celebrates its Grand Opening and first summer season after finishing touches are completed throughout the fall and winter.
Thanks to the Wellington town Archivist, our history is documented in Marion Campbell’s “From Foundry to Home” in the winter 1977 issue of County Magazine #6 + Steve Campbell’s “Wellington’s Devonshire Inn” in County Magazine.