Riverwood preserves a rich geological history of ancient seas and recent glacial events and has a fossil record that dates back 415 million years to the Silurian Age. Centuries of Credit River activity cut deep ravines and provided fertile terraces. During the late Iroquoian period, Riverwood served as a seasonal hunting and game-processing camp and was later occupied by the Mississauga First Nations.
The land now known as Riverwood was occasionally used by First Nations as trading grounds. The community surrounding Riverwood, Erindale, got its start in 1818 when the Mississauga Indians sold their designated mile on either side of the Credit River to the British government, who wanted the tall white pines for Kings Masting to rebuild their navy.
Riverwood originally consisted of 200 acres of Crown land embracing the Credit River, one of the longest rivers flowing into Lake Ontario. W.R.P. (Percy) Parker, a Toronto lawyer, bought Riverwood in 1913 as a summer retreat for his family. His wife, Ida, named the property “Riverwood” after the Credit River and surrounding woods.
After the death of Percy Parker in 1936, Ida Parker gradually sold pieces of Riverwood until the house sat on only a few acres. When she found the house to be too much to maintain, Ida Parker sold it to Grace and Hyliard (Hyl) Chappell in 1954. When Mr. and Mrs. Chappell purchased Riverwood, renovations to the house took a year to complete and included updating electricity, adding windows in the dining room, replacing the old furnaces, and adding a new water pumping system. Hyl died in 1988 and Grace sold the property to the Credit Valley Conservation Authority.
Riverwood’s agricultural history is bountiful, with remnants of apple orchards, Norway spruce (originally planted to protect fruit trees from winter winds), and agricultural artifacts. Heritage buildings include the 100-year-old Chappell House, the MacEwan Field Station (which dates to the mid-1800s and is believed to have once been a pickle-processing facility) and the MacEwan Barn (which has its original hand-hewn internal beams from the 1850s).
The Riverwood Conservancy would like to acknowledge that the land on which we operate is the territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and the traditional homeland of the Anishinaabe, Wendat, and Haudenosaunee nations. This territory is covered by the Upper Canada Treaties and is within the lands protected by the “Dish With One Spoon" wampum agreement. Today, this place is still home to many First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples. We are grateful to have the opportunity to live and work on this land.
Image: Ojibwa gathering wild rice by Seth Eastman, 1867