Norman Jewison’s Local Connection

A Caledon farm was a touchstone for a Hollywood legend.

March 16, 2024 | | Back Story

For renowned movie director and producer Norman Jewison, who died in January at the age of 97, a farm near Caledon East offered beauty, peace and, perhaps most of all, a renewed sense of place: a return to the filmmaker’s cherished Canadian roots.

Purchased in 1978, the 200-acre property was named Putney Heath Farms, after the London, England, neighbourhood where the filmmaker and his family had previously lived. Under Jewison’s stewardship and that of farm manager Jim Pipher, Putney Heath blossomed into a showplace for prize-winning polled Herefords, with maple syrup production as a sideline. The filmmaker was clearly as serious about farming as he was about making movies.

Norman Jewison Canada Caledon
Norman Jewison at his farm in Caledon. Photography by Pete Paterson.

Though Jewison’s professional career was based largely in Los Angeles, where he worked his magic on a string of memorable, award-winning movies such as Moonstruck and the groundbreaking In the Heat of the Night, he also set about ensuring that the fledgling Canadian film industry grew and thrived. At every opportunity, he used Canadian locations in his films, and in 1986, he founded the Canadian Film Centre to nurture the development of filmmakers in this country.

As the turn of the millennium approached in 1999, Caledon honoured Jewison by making him the first inductee into the town’s Walk of Fame.

In 1998, when photographer Pete Paterson snapped this picture for an In The Hills profile of Jewison, the auteur – sporting one of the many ball caps in his extensive collection – told writer Jack Batten, “This is where I’ll be for the rest of my life. I love Caledon. Everything I was looking for turned out to be right here.”

About the Author More by Dyanne Rivers

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