Called ‘Eastridge’, the stone dwelling at 31 Cross Street was built sometime between 1846 and 1851 by John Mair Thorton. The original property was purchased from an English immigrant named W.H. Dixon.
John M. Thorton owned and operated two drug stores in Dundas with his partner Robert W. Elliot, including the drug store located on the south west corner of King Street and Miller’s Lane. The Dundas drug store operated unil 1910.
Additionally, Thorton was a school trustee, postmaster from 1863 to 1876 and mayor of Dundas from 1862 to 1867. He was the president of the Upper Canada Bible Society, director of the Gas Company, Justice of the Peace for Dundas, and a director of the Desjardins Canal Company. His career came to a speedy hault, however, in 1877 when he was caught embezzling money from the Post Office. Thorton fled to the United States after the allegations became public.
In 1869 the home was owned by James Leslie but was soon sold to William (Mc) Gill in 1871. During this period, however, John Thorton continued to be a resident of the building. William Gill sold the home in 1878 to Alexander S. Wink, a barrister. Wink was in partnership with Osler, Wink and Gwyn, Barristers and Attorneys of Dundas. When the company dissolved, Wink entered into partnership with Wyld of Dundas.
At some point, Peter Woods purchased the property and rented it out to John Abraham Fisher who stayed there for nine years. Fisher was a paper manufacturer and junior partner of John Fisher and Sons (also known as the Gore Paper Mill). Additionally, John Fisher served as town councillor for two years and as Town Reeve.
In 1887, Fisher rented the home to Helen Harvey and her son John. After they moved out, Eastridge remained vacant for three years. Finally, in 1891, Robinson Pirie occupied the home until 1893. After Pirie left, the house was occupied by Harrison Ralph and his wife Melissa Ralph until 1929.
Dr. Alexander Fraser Pirie took ownership of the house in 1928. The property was renovated over the course of several years as Dr. Pirie and his wife still spent most of their time in Costa Rica. Their children, Jean and Bert Pirie, lived in the house during this time to oversee the renovations. Once the house was finished, Dr. and Mrs. Pirie lived in the property a few months out of the year as they were split between several different homes. In later years, the house became a central point for the Pirie and Bertram family events, such as weddings and christenings. After Dr. Pirie’s death in 1942, Mrs. Pirie continued to live there until her death in 1965.
The main part of the house consists of a large living room, reception room, a dining room, and a den with built-in bookcases. The front part of the house on the second storey consisted of a wide central hall with bedrooms in each of the four corners. Between each set of bedrooms was a closet. While the original closets were nothing more than long dark tunnels, they soon developed into large walk-in closets with jack-and-jill ensuites. In later editions of the house, a fifth bedroom was added near the front of the house for Dr. Pirie and Mrs. Pirie’s youngest daughter, but it later changed to an upstairs den area.