The house at 192 Governor’s Road was built around 1865 by John Forsyth, who purchased the land from the Overfield family in 1862. Forsyth named the home “Ballindalloch” after his ancestral family home in Scotland.
Forsyth was a graduate apprentice of the Gartshore Foundry in Dundas and had a successful career as a manufacturer of agricultural and household machinery. John Forsyth became a partner in The Wentworth Agricultural Works in 1855. The name of the factory changed to the Vulcan Works in 1861 when they developed the first successful screw making machinery in Canada. At the time, Vulcan Works was one of roughly five factories in the world capable of manufacturing screws using machinery. Forsyth established his own factory in 1865 and carried farm machinery, stoves and sewing machines. Forsyth made many successful improvements to agricultural equipment before selling his business in 1876 and moving to Hamilton and later London, Ontario where he became a factory inspector for the Underwriter’s Association.
In 1872, John Forsyth sold Ballindalloch to James Somerville, who renamed the house “Uplands”. James Somerville was a prominent figure in Dundas during this time, owning the successful newspaper, The Dundas True Banner and was Mayor of Dundas in 1874. Somerville enjoyed a successful political career as a Member of Parliament for North Brant and Wentworth North from 1882 until 1900. He was a well-known advocate for transparency and accountability in the press as well as government and repeatedly attempted to have public accessibility to government access codified into law. Somerville was also a staunch opponent of Sir John A. Macdonald and the Conservative Party and he opposed the Franchise Bill of 1885, Macdonald’s high tariffs and ideals of a government closed off from its electorate. Somerville died in 1916 and his wife Jeanette died shortly thereafter, and the house was sold.
The house was constructed in the Italianate Revival style. Ballindalloch is the only house in Dundas modeled in this style and one of only a few in the Hamilton region. The Italianate revival style, sometimes referred to as a ‘Tuscan Villa’ was much more common in the United States during this time period. Italianate architectural style is based on an asymmetrical building façade which features wide roof overhangs, a gently pitched roof, ornamental brackets, a cupola, tall narrow windows and a verandah.
The property is surrounded by an ornate iron fence. The front of the home is divided into three sections and the right side at one and a half storeys, is taller than the others. The door is off-centre which was traditional in the Italianate style, but highly irregular for houses in Dundas during the time period.
The windows are tall and slender and all feature decoratively carved wooden lintels and stone lugsills. Carved brackets are located below the overhang of the eaves and provide more interest to the brick home.
The home was adorned on the interior as well featuring ornate crown mouldings which differ in each room, large walk-in closets which were also atypical, and two main-floor fireplaces which have Italianate style rounded mantels.
In 1977, Ballindalloch was granted Heritage Conservancy status.
Thanks to the students of McMaster University Department of History for their help with this project.