Donors Support Historic Willistead Manor

$142,000 Combined Donation from Charleigh Charitable Trust,
Rotary Club of Windsor (1918), Martha Henkel, and Friends of Willistead

Mayor Drew Dilkens was joined today by members of City Council, City administration, Willistead Manor Inc., the Friends of Willistead, Rotary Club of Windsor (1918), descendants of Hiram Walker, and others at a reception to recognize donors and supporters of Willistead Manor. The annual reception provided an opportunity for Willistead Manor enthusiasts to deliver significant donations in support of Windsor’s historic gem in Walkerville.

Rotary Club of Windsor (1918) presented a cheque for $87,364.59 to the City of Windsor, with the funds having been raised at last summer’s 43rd Annual Art in the Park Festival. For the second year in a row, Art in the Park reached record attendance, with 40,000 visitors and 275 exhibitors filling the park. This is Rotary’s signature fundraising event in which proceeds raised go toward supporting the restoration of Willistead Manor and the charitable projects of the Rotary Club of Windsor (1918).

Charleigh Charitable Trust presented $25,000 – the second installment of a multi-year commitment on behalf of the Walker family descendants. This portion of the full $100,000 donation first announced in 2023, from Leigh and Charles Merinoff, was presented on behalf of their family: their parents Pam and Tony Morse, and their children Leslie Merinoff and Brian Kwasnieski, and Andrew Merinoff and Lauren Pikovski. Pam Morse is a great-great granddaughter of Hiram Walker. The Walker descendants actively support the Coach House Historical Exhibition, which opened in 2022, and shares the history of Hiram Walker, Walker family and legacy, Walker businesses and community impacts, formation of Walkerville, Edward and Mary Walker, construction and uses of Willistead Manor, and much more.

Martha Henkel, great-great granddaughter of Hiram Walker, presented a cheque representing her $25,000 commitment over the last twelve months toward the ongoing restoration and preservation fo the manor.

The Friends of Willistead, a non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to the preservation, restoration and interpretation of Willistead Manor committed $5,000, a combination of funding and in-kind support towards restoration and special heritage projects at the manor, along with support for public and private tours throughout the year and decorating and co-hosting the annual holiday tour program at the manor.

2023 highlights for restoration work and special projects at Willistead Manor included the following:

  • Installation of a new cooling tower and heat pumps
  • Restoration of the Paul Martin Gardens Terrace
  • Restoration of the North Terrace
  • Foundation waterproofing in the gardens and select exterior areas
  • Restoration of exterior window well grates
  • Restoration of the sidewalk to the sunken gardens in Willistead Park
  • Regrading of the south lawn
  • Restoration of the original terrazzo floor in the Coach House Historical Exhibition

In 2024, the Willistead Manor Inc. Board of Directors will unveil a recently commissioned portrait of Mary Walker created by artist Michele Van Maurik in the style of the portraits of Edward Chandler Walker, Hiram Walker, and James Harrington Walker that hang inside Willistead Manor. The new portrait of Mrs. Walker will be displayed in the Great Hall, directly across from her husband’s portrait.

Also this year, from January to the end of May, the main courtyard at Willistead Manor will undergo a full restoration. This work will include tearing up the temporary concrete courtyard that was poured during the 2018 restoration work, and removal of the access ramp contained within the courtyard. The restored courtyard will be close to the original layout, with material installed in the same original pattern across approximately 2,000 square feet of hardscape. It with include new planting beds surrounding the courtyard perimeter, and a new ramp installed to meet current accessibility standards.

During this important restoration project, the main courtyard will be closed and inaccessible. In an effort to minimize the impact on potential rental guests, some rental bookings, including weddings and receptions, will still be considered by facility staff, with some minor accommodations. Guests looking to book events during this project time-frame are asked to contact Willistead Manor at 519-253-2365 by phone or by email.

For more information on Willistead Manor, please visit For more information on Art in the Park, please visit

To donate to Willistead Manor, please make cheques payable to Willistead Manor Inc., or visit the manor’s online donation portal.


“City Council and the City of Windsor remain committed to heritage conservation and preservation at the historic Willistead Manor in Walkerville. Year after year, we see impactful work undertaken, with exciting projects aimed at preserving the manor while enhancing public access and engagement opportunities. The generous donations from Rotary Club of Windsor (1918), Charleigh Charitable Trust and the Walker family descendants, the Friends of Willistead, and so many others help make this important work possible. The City and Council thank these partners and supporters for their significant contributions, and encourage everyone to visit Willistead Manor the first opportunity you get.” - City of Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens

“Our family is thrilled to see the progress made at Willistead Manor utilizing last year’s donation. The Coach House Historical Exhibition has come to life and continues to evolve, and we’re so happy to hear that Windsor residents and visitors to the community are engaging with it regularly. It is truly an honour to see our family legacy celebrated in the city of Windsor. Thank you to the Willistead Board, the Friends of Willistead, and the City of Windsor for their work to preserve the manor and the story of the Walker family. It is wonderful to see our multi-year contributions being put to such great use at Willistead. Thank you on behalf of our family: our parents Pamela and Tony Morse, and our children Leslie Merinoff and Brian Kwasnieski, and Andrew Merinoff and Lauren Pikovski.” - Leigh and Charles Merinoff, on behalf of the Walker family descendants

“The Willistead Manor Inc. Board of Directors remains impressed and moved by the incredible community engagement with Willistead Manor. Donors, supporters, partners, rental parties, artists and performers, and so many guests support, visit and engage with Willistead Manor year after year. We remain so very grateful to our donors, including Rotary Club of Windsor (1918), Charleigh Charitable Trust and the Walker family and descendants, the Friends of Willistead, and the City of Windsor. We were proud to help the City move forward with the restoration of the floor in the Coach House Historical Exhibition room, and with the design phase of the upcoming main courtyard restoration project. We are excited to be heading up the commission of a portrait of Mary Walker that will soon join the collection of artworks that help to preserve and share the story of Willistead Manor and the Walker family. Thank you to everyone who helped Willistead Manor become the best historical attraction in our region last year. What an exciting time for Walkerville’s Willistead Manor.” Douglas Sanborn, Chair, Willistead Manor Inc. Board of Directors

“The Rotary Club of Windsor (1918) was thrilled to partner with the City of Windsor in holding Art in the Park at the beautiful historic Willistead Manor and Willistead Park. We look forward to smashing attendance records yet again this June.” - Allan Kidd, President, Rotary Club of Windsor (1918) & Chair of Art in the Park