Compiled by Beth Marley (Howard)
In 1835, Lt.-Col. Duncan Cameron, C.B., bought Lot 12, Concession 1, on the east side of Yonge Street, about a quarter mile north of York Mills Road. According to information in the book Pioneering in North York by Patricia W. Hart (General Publishing Company, 1968), Lot 12 was 200 acres, typically 20 chains (1,320 feet; about a quarter mile) from south to north, and a mile and a quarter west to east (from Yonge Street to Bayview Avenue). His frontage on Old Yonge Street would have been from where the road now curves northeast just north of the churchyard, to where it turns northwest at meeting Upper Canada Drive.
The two-storey stucco-on-brick home Cameron built facing Old Yonge Street (just north of The Links Road) contained 28 rooms, seven fireplaces, and wine cellars, and was called Lindally after his family home in Scotland.
Duncan Cameron of Camisky and Lindally (near Fort William), Scotland, was born in 1775. According to 79th Highlanders (Queen’s Own Cameron) records, he was appointed lieutenant in November 1796; captain in April 1804; major in October 1812; and lieutenant-colonel in April 1814. He served with the 79th Highlanders in Holland and was present at the battle of Egmont-op-Zee (1799); accompanied the regiment to Egypt in 1801 and was present at the battle of Alexandria (receiving a Gold medal from Sultan Selim III). He was at the bombardment of Copenhagen in 1807, and served continuously throughout the Peninsular War (1808-14). In the Napoleonic War he was made a lieutenant-colonel for his conduct at the battle of Toulouse (1814) and was severely wounded at the battle of Quatre Bras (June 16, 1815), for which battle he was made a Companion of the Bath. He retired on June 3, 1819.
Lt.-Col. Duncan Cameron married Katharine Baillie, daughter of the late General Mackay Hugh Baillie of Rosehall, Scotland, in Edinburgh on July 16, 1816. (The Edinburgh Annual Register, vol. 9). According to the website Descendants of David Baillie, 1st of Dochfour, they had eight children (but in her book 150 Years at St. John’s, York Mills, General Publishing Limited, 1966, Audrey Graham says nine), these were as follows:
In 1835, “Lt.-Col. Duncan Cameron, C.B., a Peninsular War veteran who had been second in command of the 79th Foot, or Cameron Highlanders during the conflict, and was later commanding officer of the regiment.... brought his wife and nine children to York County where at York Mills he built the twenty-eight roomed house on Old Yonge Street several hundred yards north of the church,” writes Graham (150 Years at St. John’s, York Mills). “The substantial mansion [Lindally, built in 1836]... was to become in later years the clubhouse of St. Andrew’s Golf Club.”
The Camerons played a role in the 1837 rebellion. When rebels called at Lindally demanding firearms, “their hopes were dashed when they learned that the Colonel had loaned his collection for a clan gathering in Montreal. His nineteen-year-old son, Archibald, attempted to ride into town to warn the Governor, but was stopped near Montgomery’s Tavern” (150 Years at St. John’s, York Mills). Patricia Hart mentions in Pioneering in North York that the year after the rebellion, the Colonel was “given command of the North York Militia [and] held his drill parade on the flat ground behind Anderson’s Tavern [the Miller Tavern] in the valley.”
Lt.-Col. Cameron died in October 1842 and was buried in the family plot in St. John’s churchyard, “the Rev. T.H.M. Bartlett and the Rev. Alexander Sanson officiating. Twelve Highlanders of the 93rd Regiment, then stationed in Toronto, were the pall-bearers, and the haunting lament of the bagpipes marked the occasion as one that was long remembered in the parish.
“Mrs. Cameron and the family continued to play an important role in the activities of St. John’s. Archibald Cameron, the elder son who was now twenty-five years of age, was later to serve as churchwarden in 1849 and 1851” (150 Years at St. John’s, York Mills).
The ceremony of laying the cornerstone of the “New Church of St. John, York Mills” (that is, the current church, built of white burnt brick made from blue clay discovered in the area, and designed by the architect John G. Howard) was held on May 30, 1843. “Mrs. Cameron, widow of Lt.-Col. Duncan Cameron C.B., opened her home for the reception afterwards, and among the distinguished guests were the Hon. Mr. Chief Justice Robinson, the Hon. Mr. Vice-Chancellor Jameson, the Hon. and Rev. A. Cavendish, and the Rev. George Mortimer, Rector of Thornhill. These, together with a large assembly of people, congregation and friends, enjoyed the hospitality of Lindally the Cameron’s spacious home, named after the family estate in Lochaber, Scotland" (150 Years at St. John’s, York Mills).
According to Graham, Mrs. Cameron and her daughters made the cushions for the kneelers on either side of the Holy Table, and she suggests that Mrs. Cameron was the “lady donor” mentioned in a letter from Rev. Sanson to John G. Howard, regarding the architect’s plans for the Holy Table, pulpit and lectern. “I will recommend it to the lady donor, and knowing her consideration, am sure she will allow me to pay [the contractor] the Six Pounds.” Mrs. Cameron died in 1865.
It seems that the entire Cameron property was purchased sometime in the 1870s by Thos. Botham (his name is not in the 1870-71 directory, but he is the property owner on the 1878 map).
In 1925 and 1926, “The St. Andrew’s Estate and Golf Course purchased most of the old Cameron farm on the east side of Old Yonge St.” writes Patricia Hart in Pioneering in North York. “St. Andrew’s College authorities [had] planned to move to York Mills from Rosedale, but changed their minds, and moved to Aurora. Instead, St. Andrew’s golf course, designed by [golf architect] Stanley Thompson, was built.” (Thompson also designed the courses at Banff Springs, Jasper, Bigwin Inn, The Briars and St. George’s, among many others.) The original 18 hole layout was later expanded to a 27 hole course. “Many provincial and Canadian championship tournaments were held there through the years. The clubhouse, originally Duncan Cameron’s residence, was recently torn down for apartments and a new subdivision.”
The driveway into the golf course from Old Yonge Street (clearly seen in the 1940 photo) became The Links Road.