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Elsie Perrin Williams and Windermere

Elsie Perrin Williams Estate in London, Ontario.

In November of 2017 I was lucky enough to notice that the Elsie Perrin Williams estate called Windermere in northwest London was going to be open to the public and many of the rooms furnished temporarily as they would have been in her time. Immediately I put it on my calendar and my husband and I had a lovely tour there shortly afterwards.

We first noticed this unusual name when we attended university in London. Both of us wondered if this woman’s name meant she was related to my husband’s mother whose name was Jane Perrin Williams. By the time we made the connection Jane had passed away; we were not able to ask her about the similarities. We do know, however, that Jane was related to an owner of the Grand Trunk Railway and the Williams Fly Spray people but we’ve never delved into those intriguing fragments of knowledge. I suppose it is conceivable that the two were related just because of the circles those business owners would have traveled in.

On our visit to the estate we learned more about Elsie and her husband, Hadley, and the person who stayed with Elsie until she, too, died, and to whom Elsie gave a sizable bequest. The website gives a clear account of some of the history. The property was left to the city of London along with enough money to maintain it but some shenanigans on the part of London politicians meant that the money was siphoned off for the building of the new public library in downtown London. The Williams estate fell into disrepair after the death of its caretaker.

The large room where wedding receptions today are held.
Here is a shot of me in the kitchen where the preparation of food was well displayed.

My husband’s family history has another chapter to it which I learned when he received a small inheritance from his mother’s grandfather. The family owned apartment buildings in New York City which gradually fell into disrepair as over the years crooked lawyers sucked as much money out of the estate as they could. My husband’s uncle was high up in Chesebrough-Ponds and took frequent trips to New York where he succeeded in wresting the properties away from the unscrupulous lawyers and the small inheritance was divided up. The family story is that these buildings were tenement dwellings by the time the lawyers were ousted but I don’t know details.

And still today we wonder if Elsie Perrin Williams was any relation. Perhaps one day when we find a few hours of leisure time we’ll look into this. Meanwhile Elsie’s estate is there to look at and to book for occasions. If you want to read more about the estate and the people here is a link to an article about the book, Elsie’s Estate, written by Susan Bentley.

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