Tim Archer acquires famous PEI tourist attraction
by Peggy Miles
My guess is that most Island photo albums contain a snapshot of smiling family members standing in front of one of the miniature stone buildings at Woodleigh Replicas.
For those unaware, Woodleigh Replicas was a visitor attraction located in Burlington, opened in the 1950’s and featured hand built replicas of famous UK landmarks.
The park closed in 2008 and the orphaned site stood silent for a number of years waiting for an owner to rediscover its hidden potential and nurture the property back to life.
That custodian of care arrived earlier this year in the form of Tim Archer. Originally from small town Ontario, Archer is an accomplished country singer who was looking for a change from his busy music career. He began searching for property on Prince Edward Island and stumbled across the listing for Woodleigh.
The musician purchased a portion of the property including grounds that contain many of the small replicas and gardens. With help from family and friends, he began making gradual enhancements. If all goes well the visionary hopes to acquire the remaining Woodleigh property, including the large Tower of London replica.
Archer is a people person. “You’re only a stranger once!” he quips. He has a vision for Woodleigh and a focus on community is integral in the process.
The new owner hosted a community potluck and musical celebration at the end of July. Archer describes the event as “a big party of people coming together” and included former employees, people from the surrounding community and even a woman who was born in the 1867 homestead located on the property.
What does the future hold? Archer’s plans include working with community groups and individuals to host activities such as theatre events, haunted walks, skating parties and sleigh rides. He calls Woodleigh a spiritual, magical and peaceful place and mentions the possibility of a hospice retreat.
The personable property owner also envisions educational opportunities for the public and hopes he can work with local schools to facilitate visits to the quiet country location.
He expresses his desire to erect a new monument in honour of the Johnstone Family who founded the site and built the replicas so many years ago. His regular communication with the Johnstone’s indicates that they are ecstatic about the recent efforts at the site.
Archer shares that “the Island support has been amazing.” A pleasant surprise was the appearance of individuals to the property asking how they could help. “Here’s a shovel” jokes Tim about his response.
Ultimately Archer wants to “continue what he (Mr. Johnstone) started and for it to be an extension of his dream”.
In addition to developing the site for the community it’s also become a personal haven. Archer says he’s learned to appreciate everything that’s come into his life since his arrival. “I can’t wait to get home (to Woodleigh). Nothing but the birds and the breeze.”
You can join the Facebook group: Save the Woodleigh Replicas!