At 65,000 square feet, the Peter Grant Mansion goes by different names – Haileybury House, Peter Grant Mansion or simply “Canada’s Largest Mansion”. It was built along the shores of Lake Temiskaming in Northern Ontario by Peter Grant Junior.
Peter Grant grew up in the New Liskeard area. He started as a plant manager for Elk Planning Mill Limited and became president of the company in 1976. The same year he became president of the Grant Lumber Company Limited. which held partial ownership of the Elk mill until 1995.
Mr. Grant started Grant Forest Products in 1980, making him the 87th richest person in Canada by 2004. His company was North America’s third largest supplier of oriented strand board. Peter built his own private nine hole golf course named Frog’s Breath. He used his money for philanthropy, raising millions for charity through the Frog’s Breath Foundation.
In 1998, he held the first of many annual fundraising events, raising $523,000. In 2005, $500,000 raised was split between the Temiskaming Hospital and the Englehart and Area Community Complex. In 2006 the foundation was able to donate $750,000 towards the Kirkland District Health Centre.
Over a period of 9 years these golf tournaments raised over $12 million dollars with the help of hundreds of volunteers, community supporters and the generosity of Grant Forest Products Incorporated who matched the event proceeds.
By 2007 however the tournament was cancelled, citing the financial downturn in the lumber industry.
Construction of the mansion began in 2005, which was to be used as both Peter’s home and a corporate office. The house was to feature an art gallery, waterfalls, golf course, and squash court. It has two elevators, a boat house big enough for a 40-foot yacht, an indoor pool, a giant hot tub and 30-foot fireplaces in the master bedroom and living room.
By 2009, the American housing market downturn led to the company filing for court protection from creditors, with a roughly $600,000,000 debt. All of the company’s assets, including the mansion, were put up for sale. Construction of the house stopped in 2008.
In 2010 the property was listed for sale at $25,000,000 and sat idle for a few more years until being purchased by a Toronto company. For three years the company failed to pay the taxes on the property and the town of Haileybury put the property up for sale. In the final hours before the sale, the company came forward and paid the taxes owing.
It’s estimated that the property would need $1 million just to complete the construction. The mansion sits in disrepair. The floors are still plywood, electrical wiring hasn’t been completed, the walls were left unfinished and the property has an industrial look to it rather than a home.
The property has been fenced off and No Trespassing signage posted.
October 2023 Update
CBC news reporter Erik White published an article about how the property has been purchased by a Texas entrepreneur named Chris Fischer.
Canada’s largest house and infamous northern Ontario eyesore set to star in ‘Mansion Impossible’
Erik White · CBC News · Posted: Oct 13, 2023 2:23 PM EDT | Last Updated: October 13
After years of sitting abandoned, things are finally happening at one of northern Ontario’s most infamous eyesores.
The Grant mansion on Lake Temiskaming in Haileybury is said to be the largest house in Canada, but it was never finished.
Now it is set to star in a proposed new reality TV show called Mansion Impossible.
“It’s spooky, scary, destroyed. It’s a mess,” producer Theresa Kowall-Shipp said of the inside of the 65,000 square-foot house.
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Forestry magnate Peter Grant envisioned a sprawling lakefront mansion when his company purchased the land for $110,000 in 2004.
Plans were made for a massive subterranean boathouse, a golf course and a moat on the outside, while the inside would feature waterfalls, an art gallery and only one bedroom.
It was listed for $25 million in 2010, was sold to a numbered Toronto-based company, that has done little on the property other than put up fencing and security cameras, although that has not kept keep vandals and curious visitors from trespassing.
“Folks come into town and they want to know where it is and can they go have a look,” said Temiskaming Shores Mayor Jeff Laferriere.
Kowall-Shipp says a Texas entrepreneur named Chris Fischer, who she describes as an “audacious, irreverent, master of sarcasm,” recently took possession of the house through a private vendor take-back mortgage agreement with the numbered company.
“He’s looking a lot of different possibilities for what this property could turn into, what this house could turn into. That’s a big part of the story we’ll be following,” she said.
Mansion Impossible, which is currently being shopped around to TV networks and streaming services, would also tell the “fish of out water” story of a Texas family that moves to northern Ontario to take on this major renovation project, expected to take several years to complete.
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“The plan is that we will be following them into the house in the spring and we will watch and record what happens when they get in there,” said Kowall-Shipp.
“I’m actually staring at the building right now from my office,” said Mayor Laferriere.
“You know, just seeing it rot has been a challenge.”
He says people in Temiskaming Shores are excited to see something finally happening with the house, and “it’s going to be a challenge, but at the same time, what a great idea.”
Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to [email protected]