How heritage designation brings people together.

Dawn Ayer 

Owning a Victorian has been a lifelong dream I’ve shared with my husband Braydon Scully. This is why, on Mother’s Day 2014, when we viewed a three-gabled Carpenter Gothic Victorian farmhouse I knew we’d found our next home.

This Victorian is the second home built by Walmsley family members on approximately 180 acres of South Shore adjacent lands in Athol, Prince Edward County. Until the late 1980’s, it was owned and loved by multiple generations of Walmsleys – most recently by the late Tom Walmsley and his wife Geralyn. They subdivided almost 20 acres – including the Victorian home, barn, piggery, driveshed, and other buildings – from farmlands and sold to Dick and the late Anne Potter.

Historic photo of Walmsley Gables (Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Robb)

The Potters shared a deep passion for the Victorian and promptly undertook significant renovations to update and integrate the two semi-detached portions of the home which were build by a Walmsley father and son around 1875. Sitting with Dick in one of the front porches in June 2014, we expressed our deep commitment to stewarding the property for future generations.

2017 Walmsley Gables (Photo: Dawn Ayer)

Thanks to our thoughtful real estate agent Libby Crombie, in late 2014 we were introduced to Tom and Geralyn and quickly formed a friendship. In the months and years that followed, we learned a lot about the property, its history, Walmsleys and how deeply meaningful it continues to be to the extended family. We also kept connected with Dick, who gave us a head’s up to expect periodic pop-ins by enthusiastic Walmsleys who were keen to revisit the family homestead.

2017 was a milestone year for Canada 150, Prince Edward County 225 and the Walmsleys. We were grateful to be invited to the family reunion and to welcome multiple generations to revisit Walmsley Gables for a milestone photo. For these reasons and many more, we decided to pursue heritage designation for the property, to protect and preserve it for the future.

We initiated the process with what’s now known as The County’s Prince Edward Built and Heritage Advisory Committee. Working with volunteers Liz Driver and Edwin Rouse, we learned even more about our property and our barn architecture (which had been repurposed multiple times).

Walmsley Family Reunion 2017 (Photo: Dawn Ayer)

On June 20, 2019, together with Tom and Geralyn, Braydon and I were proud to accept an official heritage designation from Mayor Steve Ferguson of what’s now known as the Walmsley-Ayer-Scully Farm Complex. Sadly, two weeks later, Tom Walmsley passed away.

2019 Geralyn Walmsley, Ken Dewar, Dawn Ayer, Braydon Scully, Tom Walmsley, and Mayor Steve Ferguson celebrate the PEC Heritage designation by

In October 2023, Braydon and I were delighted to talk to a packed room of local property owners who wanted to understand more about the heritage designation process. This information meeting was held at Bloomfield Town Hall in response to a recent Ontario government act that specifies:

“In November 2022, the Government of Ontario passed Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act. The bill included several changes to the Ontario Heritage Act, including a two-year time limit for properties to remain on municipal non-designated listed properties. Listed properties are properties that have been identified as having cultural heritage value but have not yet been designated. In Prince Edward County, this change means that the existing listed properties will be removed as of December 31, 2024.”(1)

Thanks to process of designating our beloved Walmsley Gables, we’ve built lasting friendships with many people. To learn more about the many benefits of heritage designation, what designation means and how you can get involved or learn more, visit

(1) - Source: Heritage Designation Project


Published in the 21st edition of The South Shoreliner.