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Mar 05 2011

Windfields farm in Oshawa, We’re still watching. (I’m in the paper!)

Published by Mark under Horses, Miscellaneous, Windfields

Take note Durham College / University of Ontario Institute of Technology - the residents of Oshawa (and many others elsewhere!) have not forgotten about Windfields Farm, despite your lack of attention to the property.

Following up on my blog from last week bemoaning the lack of care given to the historical property since it’s closure, I contacted the local newspaper to see if they’d follow up and print an article.

Must to my pleasure I received a call from a reporter a week ago Friday and was interviewed on the phone, and low and behold, look what appeared in yesterdays Oshawa This Week newspaper.

Click here to go directly to the much larger online digital print version (see page 5 specifically), or download/view the PDF version here.

The article touched on most of the points I wanted to make, and confirms that as of yet the college really has no plans (and apparently, even a idea) on how to proceed. Meanwhile, if the blatant neglect of something as prominent as the gates and signage is any indication, the property and other historical structures out of the public eye surely continue to decay as well.

Given that the college/university has both Carpentry and Masonry students learning their trades as part of their education, it would seem to me to be a perfect opportunity to provide some “hands on, real world” work for the students in repairing and maintaining what’s left of Windfields, either as part of their experience as a student, or even on a voluntary basis. What little is still visible to the public needs attention, and as of the liquidation auction last year (when the public was last able to view the status of the buildings) it was apparent that they were also decaying and falling into a state of disrepair. I doubt little (if anything) has been done since.

If nothing else, this article has brought the matter back into the public view and will put some pressure on the University to live up to their agreement to preserve the agreed upon portion of the property, and it’s history.

Durham College / Universisity of Ontario Instutite of Technology (UOIT), I’m looking directly at you. So are many others, despite what you may think.

16 responses so far

Feb 19 2011

Windfields is abandoned, a crying shame.

Published by Mark under Horses, Ponder, Reflection, Windfields

As an avid equine enthusiast, I was always honored to live mere miles from the famed “Windfields Farm” in Oshawa. At it’s peak it covered six square kilometers (1500 acres) and was home to over 600 horses. Both the facility and the horses that were born and raised there are known around the world.

The crumbling gates of the former Windfields Farms facility in Oshawa Ontario.

The crumbling gates of the former Windfields Farms facility in Oshawa Ontario.

For those not familiar with it, suffice to say it was the birth (and now resting) place of Northern Dancer, the most influential horse in the history of thoroughbred racing.

The facility itself has a famed history, Norther Dancer aside, and for many in the horse community, it’s revered as hallowed ground. Much history happened there, and it was one of the things that put Oshawa on the global map.

I’ve came across many good blog articles over the last few days on both Windfields itself, as well as Northern Dancer, here, here (This post specifically dealing with Windfields closure), as well as the local newspapers coverage original coverage of the closure.

Sadly, starting in the early 2000’s Windfields started a downward spiral that eventually resulted in it’s shutdown. It appears to be a combination of the original owner(s) having passed away and the new owners lacking the will (or way) to continue the dynasty, eventually resulting in this unfortunate outcome. In 2008 it was reduced to a private facility, and in 2009, closed entirely. In the spring of 2010 the farm was liquidated and shuttered for good.

It was a sad day when such a huge part of the history of Oshawa (and Canada) effectively came to an end.

The vast majority of the property has been purchased primarily by property developers and the University of Ontario institute of Technology which is located just to the south of Windfields. Both the university and the housing developers are slowly but surely creeping north onto the property formerly occupied by the fields. Reportedly, the “core” of the property (as well as several of the significantly historic structures) were to be salvaged and transformed into a public park by the university, not only in respect to the historical values, but also due to the fact that nearly 20 horses, many of significant importance such as Northern Dancer, Vice Regent, and others, are interred there.

My concern is that the properly appears to have been effectively abandoned. I drive by the main gates (pictured above) several times per week and always longingly gaze down the main drive and onto the grounds as I pass by…but for over a year now I have not seen a soul on the property. Only this week did I see the main gate open and a single set of tire tracks (whch appeared to be several days old at the time) leading onto the property. Perhaps it was someone checking on the property, or perhaps it was someone driving in to take pictures or visit the graves.

The property is very clearly deteriorating. Look closely at the picture above and you can see the rock in the pillars falling apart. The sign is faded and weatherbeaten. The finely manicured flower beds and shrubbery that once adorned the gates are all gone. The fences are falling apart, paint peeling everywhere. The barns and outbuildings that are visible from the road are clearly in a full blown state of abandonment.

I was surprised to see the light on the south side of the sign still lit, but that was sadly the only sign of life left on the entire farm. Presumably, at least someone is still paying the electricity bills.

No matter what happens, something needs to be done to remind the new owners of this historic property that it has not been forgotten. Letting the property languish until there is nothing left to perserve will not be accepted.

And so, for the foreseeable future, I have a pet project. I’ve already started the process. :)

4 responses so far