Back in the day, Windfields Farm was something – more than 600 hectares of bucolic rolling countryside near Oshawa, Ont., owned by business tycoon and thoroughbred horse-breeder E.P. Taylor (1901-1989).
It was Windfields Farm that was home to Canada’s most famous racing horse, Northern Dancer, winner of the 1964 Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. It was Windfields Farm that, in the 1960s, earned more prize money than any other stable on the continent, where Northern Dancer retired and, with a stud fee reaching $1-million (U.S.), proceeded to sire dozens of champion stallions before his death in 1990.
With the decline in the thoroughbred-racing industry, though, operations were wound down in 2009 and much of the once-vast estate sold to real-estate developers.
The legacy is not dead, however. On Friday, the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau is announcing that it’s taking into its permanent collection the Windfields Farm Collection. Recognized by the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board as having “outstanding significance and national importance,” the potpourri of documents, photographs, memorabilia and trophies – 97 in total, including Northern Dancer’s Kentucky Derby cup – is being donated by the Taylor family.
Some of the artifacts are to be displayed at the CMC for the next two weeks – an appetizer of sorts for a larger display in spring 2014 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Northern Dancer’s greatest triumphs. E.P. Taylor’s grandson Jefferson Mappin remains “amazed” by the dozen-plus Queen’s Plates won by Windfields horses. At the same time, he hopes “visitors to the museum will enjoy seeing the extensive documentation as much as all of the glitter of the trophies.”