In the field across from Kingston’s Historic Green Woods Inn lies a large boulder with an even bigger history behind it. At first glance it appears bland as any old rock, but actually bears a long and interesting history unknown to both visitors and residents of Kingston.
The story behind the boulder starts with a man named George Baxter, a Scotsman who immigrated to Canada in 1818 to take a job as principal of the Royal Grammar School in Kingston.? After settling into his life in Kingston, Goerge Baxter invited his parents Peter and Margaret Barbara to bring their daughter Isabelle to live in Canada.
Upon arriving in Montreal, Quebec the newly arrived Baxters married Isabelle off to William Lyon Mackenzie, well-known journalist, future leader of the Upper Canada Rebellion, and grandfather to William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada’s longest serving prime minister. After his daughter’s wedding, Peter Baxter went to Kingston to visit his son George, unaware that he would be leaving behind his family’s legacy.
Green Woods Inn – Rich with Kingston History
Peter ended up settling in Kingston in Cataraqui Grange, a house which George built on a stretch of land he bought along what is now highway 15.? Peter was very active on the Grange and was known to supervise workmen in the farm fields. The old man soon came to be well-known and recognized as a popular figure in the community.? Peter Baxter is described by his great, great granddaughter, Noreen Baxter Belfie, as being an extraordinarily tall man with an extremely large nose. Peter’s physical features became something of a local legend in the early days of Kingston as he strolled through his son’s fields and supervised the workers.? The nose was so well known in the region that early settlers began referring to a huge boulder, which allegedly fell from a meteor and came to rest on George’s property, as Baxter’s Nose.
But the family history doesn’t end there. George Baxter and his descendants went on to leave a much more prominent impression on the area than a nickname for a local landmark.
The Baxters Hit Hard Times
Although he was not directly involved in the rebellion, George lost his job as principal of Kingston’s Royal Grammar School because his sister was married to William Lyon Mackenzie, the architect of the Upper Canada Rebellion.? Despite his dismissal, George had enough money to build a house for his son, also named Peter, and his new daughter-in-law, Grace Baillie.? The house he built for them, which is now known as Green Woods Inn, was built just down the road from Cataraqui Grange and was originally called Maple Close.
An old black and white photo of Green Woods Inn as it appeared in the early 20th century
How Green Woods Inn Got Its Name
Maple Close Farmhouse stayed in much the same shape until about 1910 when it was extended to its current dimensions with lumber from maple trees scattered around the farm. Those same maple beams are still part of Green Woods Inn despite modern refurbishment.? Maple Close stayed in the Baxter family until it was sold to Reg Greenwood in 1954 by Ada Baxter, mother of Peter Baxter’s great, great granddaughter, Noreen Baxter Belfie.
The Greenwood family after whom Green Woods Inn gets its name occupied the house from 1954 until it was again sold and converted into a bed and breakfast inn.? Green Woods Inn has undergone many renovations and retrofits over its long and robust history, although the essential shape and structure of the building remains unchanged since the beginning of the 20th century.
All it takes is one visit to this breathtaking Victorian home to recognize that none of the warmth, charm, or history has been lost over the years or in any of the renovations. The new innkeepers Nigel and Tessa Dearsley preserve the heartfelt country feeling of wellbeing every time they welcome a guest with what they pride themselves in calling, “the magic of Green Woods Inn.”? Come for a visit and experience the magic for yourself.