The Road to Marylake

The Shrine of Our Lady of Grace at Marylake Monastery in King City, Ontario

For several years, the Midwest Augustinians' Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel, headquartered in Chicago, have adopted administrative and canonical care over the Canadian Augustinians' Province of St. Joseph headquartered in King City, Ontario.  The center of the Canadian Augustinians' province is a captivating estate known informally as "Marylake," which mark its 75th anniversary in 2017.  In preparation to publish a historical book about the landmark, author Kelly Mathews penned the following article.

By Kelly Mathews
King City, Ontario, Canada

I can think of no better site than the Marylake Augustinian Monastery, Shrine & Retreat House in King City, Ontario, Canada to best convey the Marshall McLuhan axiom “the medium is the message."  Marylake, once known as Lac Marie--built by God and managed by his servants--is one of the most pristine properties in King Township. From its rolling hills, cultivated farmland and Kettle Lake, to its forest tract, marshes, hiking trails, rosary path and more, one need only sit in silence for but a moment before it becomes abundantly clear that this land was designed for respite, spiritual reflection, meditation, healing, and contemplation.

"Township of King, designated under the Ontario Heritage Act:  Lake Marie, CIrca 1911.  This impressive entrance and gatehouse of the estate built by Sir Henry Pellatt, Reflect the same Scottish and French Baronial Architecture found in Casa Loma, in 1942, the [Augustinians] acquired the property for their monastery Marylake.  Cast 1989."

Marylake has had an enormous impact on the community in which it resides.  And what a history it has enjoyed.  In the early 1900’s a gentleman and financier named Sir Henry Mill Pellatt (builder of the famous ‘Casa Loma’ in Toronto) started to piece together several farms (1,214 acres) to create what he called Lake (or Lac) Marie Farm & Country Estate. The name Marie was to honor his first wife Lady Mary Pellatt (nee Dodgson).  Designed to be a place of respite for high society, hunt events and highballs on the verandah (1911-1935) this land came into the ownership of a group of Basilian leaders who took this site of social indulgence and converted into “Marylake Agricultural School and Farm Settlement Association” (now 814 acres).  The impact of World War II (WWII) and the subsequent depression had a tremendous impact on the farmer and the family.  With the intention that this ‘back to the land’ agricultural school would assist Catholic families and single men, impoverished in the city, to find a way to make a life in a rural/farm setting, the farm school concept was engineered, mirroring a similar colony already operational and nearby called Mount St. Francis.

Though noble in its design, the enterprise was not successful.  Partly due to the impact of WWII and partly due to the inability to keep farm revenues in line with farm expenses.  WWII had come calling and age-eligible men were needed either on the front or working in factories in the city.  On August 25, 1942, the Agricultural School sold to the Augustinian Father of Ontario (Inc.) and as such, Marylake Monastery, Retreat House and site of Pilgrimage was born. 

"Retreat House:  Augustinian Fathers, Marylake, King, Ontario (Copyright)"

2017 represents 75 years of Augustinian ownership of Marylake.  The Road to Marylake is a local, non-fiction book on the history of this land from 1900-2017.  Author Kelly Mathews has already written a land-history book on the adjacent property in King City called Eaton Hall: Pride of King Township.  She hopes to release The Road to Marylake in 2017 to coincide with 75th-anniversary celebrations. 

Do you have a story or image to share from your experience at Marylake?  If so, please click here to email Kelly Mathews.


Patrick Murphy

Patrick Murphy has been working with the Augustinians in fundraising and communications since 2010. He began working with the Augustinian Vocations office in 2015. He also holds a Master of Science in Nonprofit Management.