Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead

homestead gate

The Macphail Homestead was the home of one of P.E.I.’s most famous writers, physicians, and scholars, Sir Andrew Macphail.

Sir Andrew Macphail was educated in Uigg School, entered Prince of Wales College at age fifteen; received his medical education at McGill in Montreal and editor of the McGill University magazine, where he graduated B.A. in 1888, and M.D., C.M. in 1891, later becoming their first professor of the history of medicine.

Sir Andrew was founder and first editor of the Canadian Medical Association Journal and Beginning in 1905 he published more than 10 books. His semi-autobiographical book, The Master’s Wife, is an excellent description of 19th century life on P.E.I., a very important social history of P.E.I.’s past. He was also ahead of his time in his concern for sustainable land and forest practices, you can share in this spirit by walking the nature trails, watching for birds, identifying trees and flowers, and exploring the Macphail Woods Ecological Forestry project.

The Macphail Homestead is now operated as a not for profit educational and interpretive center whose goal is to to honor and acknowledge the contribution of Sir Andrew Macphail to our heritage. The Sir Andrew Macphail Foundation (http://www.macphailhomestead.ca/) also operates a small restaurant on the premises which serves lunch and dinner visitors to the center as well as catering to business and professional meetings.

The Macphail Homestead Trail

The farm was acquired from the Fletchers. The north and south branches of the Orwell River joined within the area, flowed in a deep wooded ravine, passed through the adjoining property, and met the tide where it was crossed by a bridge. Upon this stream were three mills. Heavy timber grew upon either bank. The stream now runs upon gravel and rock, through grassy meadows where mill-ponds once were, through gorges where with an unerring instinct the early settlers built their three dams, through the woods where trees have grown to immense size, protected by the high banks which prevent their removal. There also, as a neighbors observed, is all the accommodation a sea-trout could require.”
Sir Andrew Macphail, from The Master’s Wife

The Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead offers a rich blend of natural and cultural history, blending the past and the present into an exciting place to visit. John Andrew Macphail was born on this farm in 1864 and memories and traces from those times still grace this area. With a sharp intellect, he rose to be McGill University’s first professor of the history of medicine and also became an accomplished essayist, editor, social critic, doctor, applied scientist and soldier. On New Year’s Day in 1918, he became Sir Andrew Macphail, knighted by King George V in recognition of his military and literary contributions to the empire. His best known work is The Master’s Wife, a rich account of his parents and the times in which he lived.

The Homestead was a working farm, with fields of grains and hay and the barns filled with horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, ducks and geese. Yet “The Master’s Wife”, Andrew’s mother Catherine, still found time to pursue her interest in nature. She loved growing things and from every journey would bring home new plants – the shrub roses that still run wild, other flowering shrubs and vines. Large trees surround the house, including lindens, English oak, white spruce, apple, Norway maple and sugar maple. Some younger trees bordering this area are butternuts planted in 1980, their drooping, compound leaves adding a touch of the exotic. Keep your eyes open for birds and mammals that you might see around your own home. Springtime often brings nesting pairs of downy and hairy woodpeckers, chipping sparrows and red-eyed vireos to this area. Cedar waxwings eat the flowers from the apple trees in the old orchard while red squirrels commonly scold visitors from the treetops, especially during the fall acorn season.

The Macphail Homestead was the home of one of P.E.I.’s most famous writers, physicians, and scholars, Sir Andrew Macphail. Andrew Macphail was educated in Uigg School, entered Prince of Wales College at age fifteen; received his medical education at McGill in Montreal and editor of the McGill University magazine, where he graduated B.A. in 1888, and M.D., C.M. in 1891, later becoming their first professor of the history of medicine. Sir Andrew was founder and first editor of the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Beginning in 1905 he published more than 10 books. At the age of 50 he enlisted, spending twenty months at the Front with a field ambulance corps in World War One. He considered his greatest honor being knighted by the King on New Year’s Day, January 1, 1918; this was in recognition of both his military and literary contribution. He made Orwell both his family’s summer sanctuary and a place to experiment in agriculture. His semi-autobiographical book The Master’s Wife provides lasting insight into 19th century Island life. It was written in the 1920’s, and first published in 1939. It is an excellent description of 19th century life on P.E.I., a very important social history of P.E.I.’s past. The “Master” was his father, William, the book about his family and the community they lived in, Orwell. Sir Andrew was a noted social critic, his writings reflecting his Scottish Protestant upraising in rural Orwell. Sir Andrew Macphail passed away on September 23, 1938.

The Macphail Homestead is now operated as a not for profit educational and interpretive center whose goal is to to honor and acknowledge the contribution of Sir Andrew Macphail to our heritage. Sir Andrew Macphail Foundation also operates a small restaurant on the premises which serves lunch and dinner visitors to the center as well as catering to business and professional meetings.

Sir Andrew’s birthplace is a memorial to his genius and diversity of interests. In visiting the 140-acre site you are offered a memorable experience. You may feel that Sir Andrew has just stepped out of his study. You can visit the stream where he bathed. Because he was ahead of his time in his concern for sustainable land and forest practices, you can share in his spirit by walking the nature trail, watching for birds, identifying trees and flowers, exploring the reforestation project or wildlife gardens designed to continue his environmental interests. Guided tours of the house and property with observations from The Master’s Wife will also tell you about the pillar gates from McGill, the story behind the Wallace stone steps, and the church bell in the front yard.

Upcoming Events

Jun
3
Sat
10:00 am Plants of Prince Edward Island
Plants of Prince Edward Island
Jun 3 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Plants of Prince Edward Island @ Macphail Woods Nature Centre | Vernon Bridge | Prince Edward Island | Canada
In celebration of Island flora, biologist Kate MacQuarrie will be sharing her love of plants at Macphail Woods on Saturday, June 3. Kate will walk the nature trails of the Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead in
Jun
11
Sun
2:00 pm Nature-friendly Forest Managemen...
Nature-friendly Forest Managemen...
Jun 11 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Nature-friendly Forest Management with Bob Bancroft @ Macphail Woods Nature Centre | Vernon Bridge | Prince Edward Island | Canada
Come on out to the Macphail Woods Nature Centre on Sunday, June 11th at 2pm for a great walk and talk with Bob Bancroft. Bob will draw on over 40 years of experience looking after
Jul
3
Mon
9:00 am Becoming a Naturalist Week 1
Becoming a Naturalist Week 1
Jul 3 @ 9:00 am – Jul 7 @ 3:00 pm
This camp builds on the camper’s ability to encounter and describe the natural world. They will use journals, collecting equipment, and take part in many fun activities that will expand their understanding of how to