The William Herdman & Mary Moffatt house, built about 1864.


(Photo November 2005.)

This one-and-a-half-storey stone farmhouse was built in the mid-1860s for William Maxwell Herdman and Mary Moffat, to replace the original one-and-a-half-storey log house listed in the 1861 census. (The veranda on three sides may have been added later.)

The Herdman family (later Hurdman). See also the link at top of page for more information.

William Maxwell Herdman was the second son of Henry Herdman (1789-1880), and Elizabeth Maxwell (1787-1875), the widow of Robert Farris, (all from Ireland). Their children were: Henry Jr. (1816-1907) and Elizabeth (1816-1908), (twins), William M. (1819-1881), Susan (1820-1900), James (1824-1908), Charles (1826-?), and Thomas M. (1829-1906).

In 1818 Henry Herdman senior and his wife settled on 400 acres on Klock road between Cook and Pink roads (lots 20 and 21 range 5, Hull township), about 3 miles or 5 km west of here. They also owned lot 27 range 5, close to Terry-Fox road.

In 1844 Henry Herdman Sr. bought lot 3, range 3, Eardley township, 200 acres, for £350. In 1845 a log house was built (#1620 route 148) and the two oldest sons, Henry Jr. and William lived there with Henry’s twin Elizabeth as housekeeper, until she married in 1846. Then Susan took over as housekeeper until William married Mary Moffatt (1828-1891) about 1853. (The Moffatts lived on a farm near the junction of Montagne and Vanier.) Henry Jr. continued to live with his married brother until 1858 when he too married.

In 1851 Henry Sr. had sold the south half of the farm (#1583, lot 3C) to Henry Jr., including a house and barn for £325, and the north half (#1620, lot 3A) to William. In 1853 they may have switched halves as there is a deed for the sale of the north half by William to Henry Jr. for £300, and William ended up with the south half, as recorded in the 1861 census.

William Maxwell Herdman and Mary Moffat’s children were:

Isabella (1854-?), Elizabeth (1855-1911), Alexander M. (their only son, who died at 11 months, 1857-1858), Margaret Jane (1859-1943), Mary Emma (1863-1945), Wilhelmina and Florence.

After William died in 1881, and his wife Mary in 1891, Margaret Jane and Mary Emma inherited the farm and house. Mary Emma married John Williams, the hired hand, in 1906, when she was 43 years old. He died in 1964 so it is likely he was much younger than her. John Williams was given the “usufruct” of the property during his lifetime, but on his death it passed to the grandson of Wilhelmina, who had married Benjamin Godwin.

From the time that John Williams retired from farming, perhaps up to about 1973, the farm was rented to the Richards brothers.

In May 1973, Alex Olmsted, (Duncan Alexander Olmsted, a descendant of Gideon Olmsted who arrived with Philemon Wright), a farmer, living at 136 Eardley road in Aylmer, bought the farm for $40,000 from Eric Godwin (William Herdman’s great grandson). Renovation work took two years, including installing electric wiring and indoor plumbing for the first time. In the 1980s Alex’s daughter Betty and her husband Charles Rose were living here.

An information sheet produced for a house tour in 1980 states that “Stoneleigh” was the first stone house on Eardley road (but the similar-style Richard Cruice house was built in the early 1850s on the corner of Eardley road and Denise-Friend in Aylmer). It is likely that the Michael Foran stone house (#1561 route 148) and James Hurdman stone house (#1622) were all built in the mid 1860s, after the census year of 1861, when there were no stone houses in Eardley township. The stone probably came from a local quarry, such as that at the junction of Pink and Klock (now Lafarge quarry), which is just south of Herdman woods, where the sons grew up. It is not known when the name Stoneleigh Farm was first used — there is no other mention of it.

The extension at the rear, the summer kitchen, was constructed at the same time as the house, of the same stone, but not “dressed.” In 1973 it contained an original dry sink and water pump, with a cistern for rainwater in the basement below, which is still there, but dry. The room above the summer kitchen was accessible from a small back staircase, and was the hired hand’s quarters.

The renovation in the mid 1970s involved installing a modern kitchen and bathroom. Doors, windows and mouldings were stripped to reveal the original red pine. The pine floor boards had been covered with linoleum which preserved them. The lathe and plaster walls required major repair. The original interior door latches are interesting.

The house is designed on the centre hall plan. The roof is covered with “fishtail” steel shingles (in 2011). The house was designed to be heated with several wood stoves, and stove pipes led into one of three chimneys within the thick exterior stone walls. The living room was originally two rooms, as was the kitchen and dining room. The fireplace surround in the living room was built in the 1970s from stone found on the property, perhaps left over from the original construction. The windows in the living room, kitchen and dining-room have many of the original glass panes, and the original fixed storm windows, which today help reduce the noise from the highway.

The staircase and newel post were carefully stripped to reveal carved detail. (It has been suggested that the internal carpentry on the house was done by Alexander Lusk.) In the basement, log beams support the floors above. The floor joists are quite far apart.

Alex Olmsted died 31 Dec. 1987, leaving his property to his four daughters (his wife had died in 1986). The farm and farmhouse were sold to Jamie and Mo Laidlaw on 5 August 1988.

Photo March 1989: the veranda and wood trim is a mustard colour. The lean-to does not match the house in colour (cedar siding) or style (windows).

Renovations by the Laidlaws, since 1988:

Bathroom and kitchen renovated 1990.

The windows upstairs and in the summer kitchen were replaced with insulating double pane windows in 1991. (These windows were not original, had metal-framed storm windows.)

The hired hand’s room was renovated in 1991-2. Several inches of insulation was added to the walls and ceiling, the back staircase was removed, an entrance from the main staircase was made (the stone from this wall became the retaining wall around the garden on the river side of the house), and a small bathroom with shower and toilet was added.

Photo March 1991: The stone wall between the hired hand’s room and the rest of the house was removed to allow access from the main staircase.

A small entrance lobby was built in 1991-2 on the north (driveway) side of the house, replacing an open porch that covered the door into the summer kitchen. The entrance to the basement was improved at the same time.

In 1993 an arbor was built over the concrete patio on the west (river) side of the house and sunroom. This concrete patio was originally the floor of a shed used for separating milk, taken down by the previous owners as it blocked the view of the river.

Photo August 1993. Arbor covers concrete patio. The retaining wall around garden is built from stone removed to make hire hand’s room accessible from main house.


In September 1999 the stonework was repointed which reduced drafts considerably. (Work carried out by Johnny Leach).

The lean-to “sunroom” on the south side of the house was renovated in 2000, with grey siding to match the limestone, and new windows more in keeping with those in the main house.

The front door with glass panes (facing the highway) was installed in 2007 following an energy audit in 2006, to allow more light into the hall and prevent drafts and leaks. An airtight fireplace insert and slate hearth in the living room were installed in 2006-7.

Photo March 2006: the energy audit. Blowing air out of the house to find out where the air is coming in. This is the entrance on the north (driveway) side, added in 1992.


Note the decorative trim, “gingerbread,” on the veranda.

There’s also a post-and-beam frame barn (garages etc) dating from about 1880. Enormous sliding doors hang from runners.

Photo October 2004. The end of the post and beam barn next to the house.

On the other side of the highway are several barns that are being restored, including a post-and-beam-frame horse stable built in 1860, a post-and-beam building of white-pine probably constructed in the 1880s, connecting the other two barns, and a cedar-log barn built in the 1840s.


1844 deed of sale of lot 3, range 3, “Township of Eardley, Province of Canada,” to Henry Herdman.

1851 deeds of sale of north and south halves of lot 3, range 3, “Township of Eardley, County of Ottawa, District of Montreal, Province of Lower Canada from Henry Herdman the Elder to Henry Herdman the younger and William Maxwell Herdman”.

1853 deed of sale.

1861 census and agricultural census for District one, Eardley township.

1943 will of Margaret Jane Hurdman.

1945 will of Mary Emma Hurdman (Mrs John Williams).

1973 deed of sale of lots 3C and 4F, range 3, Eardley township.

1980 information sheet for house tour (about 1970s renovations).


1583 route 148, Breckenridge