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Item Name



Duff-Baby House / Maison Duff-Baby

Title (Fre)

Maison Duff-Baby




Faded black and white photograph of the three-storey Duff-Baby House; the house has a wide covered porch running the length of the house and nine steps leading up to it; there are six trellises in front and lattice work both on and below the porch; in front of the doorway a boy is standing with his arm on a wide-backed chair; the second storey has a number of windows with closed shutters; the third storey is badly faded but one dormer and a chimney are visible; there is a tree in front of the house, obscuring the right side; an older gentleman is seated on a chair on the front lawn to the left of the steps and to the right is a small boat under construction


The Duff-Baby House, or Mansion as it is sometimes referred, is the oldest known surviving house in southwestern Ontario. It was built in 1798 in the Georgian style by Scottish fur trader and merchant Alexander Duff, a contemporary of Angus Mackintosh of Moy Hall. These early river barons used their homes both as residences and places of business. The house was sold to Jacques (James) Baby in 1807 and remained in the Baby family until 1871. The gentleman seated at front is believed to be Captain James Van Cleve, a retired Great Lakes Captain and marine artist whose family purchased the house in 1879. The house stands on the corner of Russell & Mill Streets in Sandwich, now 221 Mill Street. In 1905 the house was purchased by William James Beasley who operated a medical office for a number of years. In 1977 the building was designated a Heritage Property and it was sold to the Ontario Heritage Foundation (OHF) in 1979. The building was restored and is currently used by the OHF for educational programs and special activities in partnership with Windsor's Community Museum. Jacques (James) Baby (1763 - 1833) was born in Detroit and was very active in local politics and society. In 1802 he married Elizabeth Abbott and had five sons and one daughter. As Lord Lieutenant of the County of Kent (present day Chatham-Kent, Essex & Lambton Counties) Baby welcomed many important visitors to his home including Shawnee leader Chief Tecumseh and British Major General William Henry Proctor. Baby's wife died during the winter of 1812 - 1813 and, grieving, Baby moved to Quebec with his children. He later moved to York (now Toronto) where he died of a stroke on February 19, 1833. He was buried at St. Paul's, however, in 1860 his remains were removed to Sandwich for reinterrment in the Assumption Church Cemetery.

Place made

Canada - Ontario - Sandwich

Collection Name

Museum Windsor


Baby, Jacques

Baby, James

Buildings / Immeubles

Chairs / Chaises

Children / Enfants

Duff, Alexander

Duff-Baby House / Maison Duff-Baby

Houses / Maisons

Men / Hommes

Mill St. / Rue Mill

Russell St. / Rue Russell

Sandwich (Ont.)

Trees / Arbres

Van Cleve, Captain James

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