It’s been around since 1834. The Harris family gave it to the city of London over 100 years later in 1960, and it’s in pristine condition. It’s the Eldon House.
The Eldon House is the oldest residence in London. Now a museum, the house offers self-guided or guided tours of the property. The Rideout street home first dwellers were John and Amelia Harris.
John was a member of the Navy in the early 1800’s, which led to him coming from England to Canada during the War of 1812. He then later met his future wife Amelia while he was surveying The Great Lakes after his exit from the Navy.
John had a 29 year career in London politics, being appointed Treasurer of the London District in 1821. Together John and Amelia had eight children, six girls and two boys.
Milly Harris was the last member of the family to live in the home. After her death in 1959 the home and its contents were donated to the city by her niece and nephews.
Like the shell casing from the Battle of Vimy Ridge on the left, the museum is full of original items that have been kept in fantastic condition throughout the years.
This includes items that are considered in today’s time immoral, such as items crafted with ivory.
The two floor home has 4 bedrooms where the family slept over the century. The kitchen was part of an addition to the home in 1877, and features a beckoning bell- set up through the ground floor to call on the parlour maid. The kitchen has seen many renovations and restorations over the years as time moved on.
Cathy Luke is a historical interpreter of over 20 years at Eldon House. Formerly a history teacher at a private girl school in Montreal, she provides tours and information about the family, the home, and the contents inside it.
“This is very much a house people can certainly be proud of it’s a tourist attraction an education attraction.”
The family were travellers and it shows in their home.
“It’s a house of collections. The Harris’ travelled and collected things from all over the world.”
The house boasts a plethora of war medals gathered throughout the years, as well as diaries kept by the family. One standout people notice is a grandfather clock in the corner of the room that demands attention.
The Harris family roots have been connected to England, India, Australia and Toronto. The name has dwindled down to the final few remaining men in the long line, as the women married and took their spouses last name.
Eldon House is open to the public during business hours and admission is by donation.
This tiny slice of London history is important to understand, because it perfectly captures the passage of time. When you walk in through the front door, it’s a portal to the year 1834.