The Tilts Farm
Hello, and welcome to the WRX Property Group website and blog. The theme for this week is: Heritage Properties! Both Kitchener and Waterloo have their fair share of historic buildings, both commercial and residential. Some of those are hotels, some are homes, and some are farms.
The Waterloo Region, with its central Tri-Cities and surrounding Townships, is home to bustling urban centres and rapidly-advancing (and well-established) tech startups, but it’s also home to acres of pristine farmland and functioning farms.
The blend of rural and urban is one of the overall Waterloo Region’s distinguishing features.
Most of the farms are in the Townships, and most of the tech startups are in Kitchener-Waterloo, but there are several notable exceptions.
We’ve already taken a look at the Steckle Homestead (also a Heritage Property), but there’s one more for today’s Heritage Property, located even further south in Kitchener: the Tilts Farm.
On July 19th, 1831, a baby boy was born in the small village of Capel, in Surrey, South East England.
That baby boy’s name, particularly his surname, may be familiar to residents of southern Kitchener: John Tilt. John Tilt came to Canada as a baby (presumably he didn’t swim, as few babies have the stamina necessary for a trans-Atlantic doggy paddle), and by 1850 he was married and settled in the Waterloo Region.
In 1861, John Tilt moved from Blair (now part of Cambridge) to Doon (now the southern part of Kitchener) to start his own business: a brick and tile factory. Creatively called the Tilt Brick and Tile Factory, John Tilt ended up doing well for himself, pumping out bricks, drain tiles, lumber, and even high quality pails (the competition paled in comparison).
But a family can’t comfortably live in a brick factory, and as Tilt’s family was slowly growing, he decided it was time for a family home, too. In 1861, John Tilt built a 1.5 storey home for himself and his growing family, making use of excess bricks from the Tilt Brick and Tile Factory.
If you’re wondering if there was a kilt, stilts, or spilt milk involved when Tilt built his house – the historical record is unclear. It was a very fine house, and we’ll take a closer look at it shortly, but it’s still not all Tilt built.
Tilt also built a fully functioning farm on his property, including a large wooden barn and more than enough space for a range of animals and crops. As you’ll discover, Tilt must have chosen his location well. But we’ll get to that shortly. Now, let’s look at the house Tilt built.
The Tilt Farmhouse
The Tilt Farmhouse is distinctive both for its style and craftsmanship, but also for its location on the property.
Tilt must have had a mind to keep an eye on what was going on around him, as the Tilt Farmhouse stands atop a small hill, providing a view of both his brick factory and his farm. Is it still considered a commute if you can see your place of work from your bedroom window?
The property is 1.5 storeys tall and, as mentioned earlier, constructed from the bricks made at Tilt’s very own factory. The bricks come in a range of shades, creating unique patterns on the home’s façade. One of the most striking features is the sleek, dark, triangular roof, which features a prominent arch over the front entrance.
Trees stretch out to the north and east of the Tilt Farmhouse, and there are even more trees to be found to the west (we’ll explain shortly). But there is one tree in particular we’d like to highlight before moving on from the property.
In the front yard of the Tilts farm stands a beautiful, massive silver maple tree. Tilt’s home is quite old – having been built in 1861, it even predates Canadian Confederation by 6 years – but this tree is even older.
Planted around 1855, it is truly a marvel. As generations of Tilts have lived and grown up in this property, the silver maple has stood solemnly by. It’s amazing to consider the history of the trees in Kitchener-Waterloo, and how many of them are older than the Heritage Properties.
Where to Find It
Appropriately, the Tilt Farmhouse, and the Tilts Farm, stand off of Tilt Drive, in southern Kitchener. It is approximately equidistant between the two nearby intersecting streets of Doon Village Road and Doon Mills Drive (can you tell that this part of Kitchener used to be called Doon?).
Just west of the Tilt Farmhouse is one of the largest, lushest green areas in all of Kitchener: Tilts Bush. This beautiful, wooded, Natural Area has several rough paths running through it, including Tilts Bush Trail, which has a sturdy, elevated boardwalk over and around Strasburg Creek.
Tilts Farm in the Present
As we alluded to earlier, John Tilt clearly made a good choice when he decided to build his farm where he did.
While Tilt’s Brick and Tile Factory may have come and gone, Tilt’s farm is actually still running, to this day. Indeed, Tilt’s farm has been home to hordes of clucking chickens from the days Homer Watson himself strolled through the fields of Doon, to the days that Homer Watson enthusiasts visited the Homer Watson House and Gallery.
Perhaps even more impressive than the fact that Tilt’s farm is still operational, is that it’s remained in the Tilt family for all this time. Members of the Tilt family have lived in Tilt’s brick-built farmhouse ever since 1861. And today, the Tilts run a business sure to appeal to anyone interested in locally-sourced food.
Known as ‘Tilt Built Pastures’ since 2007, the Tilts offer all the benefits of a small, family-run farm, right within the City of Kitchener. Animals are raised on a grass-based diet, kept free of hormones and antibiotics, and allowed to roam freely on the property.
You can buy chicken, eggs, and various cuts of pork right from the farm. Check out the pork prices here, or better yet, simply visit the farm (31 Tilt Drive, Kitchener) at your convenience. It’s self-serve, so you can come whenever you want!
We hope you enjoyed this latest look back at the history of Kitchener and its unique properties! If you’re looking for more information on how to buy your very own unique property, please feel free to contact us – we’re always happy to help.
Written by Will Kummer