The John McKenzie House Slate Roof Project has begun!

The restoration team mobilized on-site in early April to begin raising the scaffolding. By early May, the house was surrounded by an impressive scaffold system and the roofers had begun demolishing the existing asphalt shingle roof and laying the waterproof membrane for the new slate roof.  

With much of the demolition done, the shingles are now being laid on both the main and coach house roofs of John McKenzie House. 

We're very excited about the opportunity to preserve this historic Willowdale landmark with a roof that can last over 100 years. 

Read on to see the project develop from Day 1 to completion. 

DAY 1 - DAY 6 - DAY 9 - DAY 16 - DAY 23 - DAY 27 - DAY 37 - DAY 124

The earliest known photo of John McKenzie House, taken in 1919. This photo features a view of the original slate roof and has been relied upon for many of the restoration projects undertaken by the OHS since 1993.


Since saving John McKenzie House from demolition in 1993, the Ontario Historical Society has invested countless hours of staff time and over $750,000 of our own resources to help restore and maintain this valuable piece of our heritage. In 2013, the OHS worked with the City of Toronto and the Ontario Heritage Trust to secure a heritage conservation easement for the house and surrounding property, guaranteeing its protection for generations to come. 

Thank you to everyone who generously donated their time and resources to support this project!


As we continue to upgrade and maintain this historic Willowdale landmark, we need your support. All donations will receive charitable tax-receipts. 




Equipment and materials arrived on site and the scaffolding crew began the month-long process of surrounding the house in scaffolding. The final structure is over 36' tall and consists of several decks at varying heights.



Major progress on the main level was made in just the first week, while the second deck began to take shape on the eastern side of the house.



By the ninth day, the scaffolding was beginning to appear complete, but there was a lot more work to be done once the frame was completed.

DAY 16


An intricate maze of scaffolding platforms!  Truly an excellent job executed by Site Supervisor Frank Pavao and his crew.

 With the scaffolding up on the south and east sides of the house, we took a closer look at the visible damage and deterioration.

 The Coach House roof was also in bad shape.

 Our time-lapse camera is following the whole process, taking several shots a day, rain or shine.

DAY 23


When the roof started coming apart, the crew found lots of rot under the decayed asphalt shingles. All rotten wood has to be carefully ripped up and replaced with plywood.

 In this photo, we can see the second half of the rot-removal process. Each section removed is carefully replaced.

 After the plywood is secured in place, the water and ice-shield membrane is laid from the gutter to the ridge (bottom to top).

 We recently received a few samples of the slate shingles being used, and the roofers assembled a quick mock-up on the corner of the Coach House as a demonstration. It looks fantastic!

DAY 27


The Coach House roof has been completely rid of rotten wood and is now fully covered and almost ready for the slate! 

DAY 37



DAY 124






Stay tuned!! Plenty more to come...


34 Parkview Avenue
Willowdale, Ontario, M2N 3Y2

P. 416-226-9011 | F. 416-226-2740

Toll-free: 1-866-955-2755
E.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Click here to renew

your membership online!





Not a member? No problem! Sign up here to receive email updates, announcements and news from the OHS.


Make a donation in
support of the
Ontario Historical

Login Form