From Farm, To Monastery

Early in the year I went for a hike along the Oak Ridges Moraine which passes through the property of the Marylake Augustinian Monastery.

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Although I had intended at some point to feature this area in a Thursday Doors post, I was holding out for a return visit, because on this property is purported to be the world’s largest rosary.   It is a 1.5 km path with giant versions of all 59 beads of the rosary for pilgrims to walk and pray.

Unfortunately, weather and opportunity have not come together to make this return visit happen, so I decided to proceed without it.

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On this multi-acre site are the old buildings of a farm dating back to around 1920.  Now they are just empty time capsules, but on this crisp winter day, they looked beautiful.

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This farm was the summer property of Henry Pellatt.  Now, I acknowledge that name means absolutely nothing to you.  Quite frankly, even the vast majority of Torontonians wouldn’t know the name Pellatt, even though he was a significant player in the city’s history.

Three months ago when I hiked past this farm, the name meant nothing to me either.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast weekend, while Norm Frampton was in Toronto, we visited a building together which is also attributed to Henry Pellatt.  There will be more on that building in a future post.

Stay tuned.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.

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79 comments

  1. Your photos of these buildings are beautiful, Joanne. What interesting architecture! Now I’m curious to hear the story of Henry Pellatt (not to be confused with the inventor of pallets).

    Jude

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  2. That is an impressive building!! I hope that you get a change to return for the rosary. The weather isn’t being very cooperative this year! 😉

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  3. This looks like a wonderful place to visit. I’ve never heard of a path that is a rosary, the Catholic churches around here push mazes as a way of connecting to the spirit. Your photos are gorgeous. I especially like that first one. Stunning.

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    • At the risk of leaping down a rabbit hole, I’m going to say that generally I have a huge chip on my shoulder when it comes to organized religion.
      I want to believe this giant rosary is unique and creative. I hope I’m not disappointed by overly high expectations!

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  4. the broken windows at the end really spoke to me – kind of reminded me how things wane, go out of fashion. And then thinking about how Pellatt likely built so much here to also become an afterthought (maybe not to historians or bloggers… 🙂 )
    and nice that you and Norm connected – woo hoo
    hope you have a great weekend

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    • You make a great point about our passions becoming an afterthought for the next generation. It’s really becoming obvious to me as our generation’s parents are aging, being moved into senior’s houses, and passing away. Their belongings, which meant something to them, are abandoned in second hand stores or garbage heaps.

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      • so true – and chilling to think of the garbage heaps.
        In 2002 we had two interesting yard sale experiences – and one comes to mind.
        This wealthy man in Los Gatos (wealthy suburb of San Jose, CA) had passed away and his children took what they wanted and had a company dissolve the rest.
        I wish i had taken photos of his many rare items – a collector who traveled – but never thought of preserving the scene – oh it was interesting. But my mother and I were just out for a running around day and saw the huge estate sale sign…

        and Joanne – he had little iron figures, wooden sets, real Hollywood clapboards, art of many kinds…
        and I wondered about the owner. now gone – and how he felt when he put up a new shelf – or stored another treasure.
        I also was starkly reminded (is starkly the right word..??) well I was reminded that when we die – someone else has to sort our items…. sobering and maybe helped me start thinking of a loose hand with possessions. Still never easy with some items…
        🙂

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        • Having gone through this with my own parents, I’m aware of the process. It’s sad when there are collections like this that were very meaningful to the owner, but their children/grandchildren don’t feel the same way. It’s completely changed how I look at all the *stuff* we tend to collect.

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  5. Like the others, I’m delighted that you’ve met up with Norm. And I do know who Henry Pellatt was but am keen to see your photographs of his other building.
    As for returning to take photos of the world’s largest rosary, yes please.
    Finally, the weather. Good grief, the weather. I’m waving the white flag of surrender.

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    • I had a lot of drama to deal with this week compliments of the weather. Those winds!! I too am waving the white flag of surrender.

      I wish I could say my Casa Loma pictures are as good as these ones – but hopefully I’ll still have a good story to tell 🙂

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    • I knew that Pellatt had retired to his summer place when he lost Casa Loma, but I didn’t make the connection between his farm and this property until I was looking through my photos looking for inspiration for a Thursday Door post 🙂

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    • Thanks – that photo really worked for me too. At first I was going to wait until they moved away to take my shot, and then I realized they added to the scene 🙂

      Sadly, these beautiful buildings don’t seem to be used at all. From what we could see, they were empty and most of the windows were broken. There are other buildings on the property we didn’t explore since they were off the hiking trail.
      … another reason to go back 🙂

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  6. Love the brick gates! the buildings look more farm like, but I could see a monastery in there (hope they will change/add the round tower, to make it less silo-like!). I’m not Catholic, but I saw a comment about the rosary – it was always explained to me like “prayer” – I figured, the beads were a great tangible thing to focus on points of prayer?

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  7. The gates to the monastery are beautiful, Joanne. And what an interesting farm building. It’s too bad that it’s a bit run down. I’m looking forward to learning more about Henry. 🙂

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    • I was attracted to those gates several years ago before I even knew about the farm or the monastery. It was a mystery to me why these random gates were there in the middle of nowhere. One mystery solved 🙂

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    • It does. I have been by here a few times over the past couple of years on various hikes, but the statue was new to me on this visit.
      This location appears to also go by the name of The Shrine of Our Lady of Grace.

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  8. A 1.5 km rosary eh? Showing off much? How very Catholic of them 😉
    What, Pellatt had another house?! Casa Loma wasn’t enough for this guy; he needed a summer estate too? Geez….
    Nice shots though. I do love the light in that 3rd shot, looking up at the door between the two towers.

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    • omg – I’m going to be giggling over that line for a long while “how very Catholic …” 🤣 LOVE IT! 🤣

      The Pellatt summer home was one of those details I learned about when I was researching Casa Loma before our visit (btw – I NEVER do pre-research, but you were special 🙂).
      When Pellatt lost Casa Loma, he ‘retired’ to his farm. I had no idea until I was putting together this post that his farm was this one I had already visited!

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  9. Now that is one interesting rosary to pray. Get your exercise physically and spiritually.
    How great that you and Norm were able to connect. As you know I am very keen to meet other bloggers. Xo

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    • Meeting other bloggers is the best!

      In spite of my good Catholic upbringing, I’ve never really understood the whole praying-rosary thing. I can only assume it’s some kind of mental sedative like meditating.

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      • I too grew up Catholic. I think it is likely a comforting ritual and the rosary beads almost like worry beads. I recall my Grandma rolling them with her fingertips and a soothing look on her face.

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  10. These buildings are way too beautiful to be abandoned. Just look at that lovely arched doorway (and yes the brickwork does need some serious attention, so hurry up someone!!) the blue sky, the red bricks and those characterful broken windows crying out for some TLC. Nice one Jo – please return and find out what the rosary path is all about.

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    • I just discovered that in addition to the rosary, there are many other buildings which are part of the monastery / retreat centre.
      I didn’t see any of them from the trail. This property must be MUCH larger than I originally thought.

      These old farm buildings are simply beautiful – even abandoned like this. There is just so much potential here!

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  11. Beautiful, albeit a bit sad doors today, Joanne. Ideally, there would be some future use planned for these buildings, at least enough to provide incentive to keep up with repairs. I love the stone. I really like the shot looking up at the sliding loft doors. I wish the doors were closed and the windows not broken, but it’s a very nice photo.

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  12. You have so piqued my interest about the rosary–I am looking forward to that post. The farm buildings…..gorgeous! The round buildings, the archway over the door..how did they get the bricks that way? So many questions!!

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    • You hit all my points too! This is one of those places that deserves a repeat visit – I want to walk that rosary (the fallen Catholic that I am).

      This is a lovely old farm and I’m rather disappointed to discover the buildings empty. This would make a gorgeous retreat or event centre. A major trail system runs right by the buildings with a lake a short walk away. Oh yes, I could envision a lot of ways to showcase this beauty!

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    • Thanks Janis. I didn’t make the connection between the 2 properties until yesterday when I was looking for a door to feature this week. I just love it when seemingly random events suddenly collide like that 🙂

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  13. Hi, Joanne – You have definitely piqued my curiosity about the ‘world’s largest rosary’ at Marylake.
    BTW – So cool that you and Norm finally had the chance to meet up!

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    • It was so cool to finally meet Norm and his wife. It shouldn’t have been so difficult for us to get together … but we’re already planning our next one 🙂

      I’m really curious about this rosary too. There will be a return trip!!

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  14. I know all about Sir Henry Pellatt. He invented a platform that shippers famously call the “pellatt”. Usually pellatts are made of wood, so they are called wooden pellatts. They are simple framework platforms, upon which piles of cargo are situated. Slots within the framework allow a forklift to pick up the pellatt and place it upon, for example, a flatbed truck.

    Beautiful shots, by the way. I especially like that red brick entryway.

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  15. Glad you got those broken windows. Such a mood. This is a beautiful place and I’m glad you shared it. Also glad you and Norm met up!

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    • Our meet-up was a long time coming. It started to feel like the Universe was conspiring to prevent it 😉
      I’ve been sitting on these photos for a while and I was glad to finally tell their story.

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    • Thanks 🙂
      I’m still very puzzled about the monastery ownership. I don’t understand why they are leaving the buildings vacant.
      … but I do appreciate their generosity in allowing the trail to traverse their property.

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