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A Man in Love With a House – Pt. 2 in the Ebor House Series

The moment Ron Coffin saw Ebor House,  he was smitten.

He hadn’t been house-hunting in Bond Head – a small historic area consisting of just a few country roads on Lake Ontario, east of Toronto.  But Ron felt mysteriously drawn to both the house and its location.

“It’s like being in another world here. You even have to go through a series of entrances to get to this home. The first entrance is a bridge that you have to go under when you leave the highway. Then there are the gates to the property. Then there are 2 entry doors before you can come into the house.”

Blog Photo - Ebor House Gates

He also hadn’t planned to buy this house.

“It was for sale for a couple of years and a friend said I should see it. I saw it and said, ‘My God!’  I fell absolutely in love with it.”

Ron didn’t know the house’s history.  He didn’t know that it had belonged to generations of an illustrious Bond Head family whose close relatives included two Lord Mayors of London, England. Blog Photo - Ebor House 

Blog Photo - Ebor House Entrance

What he saw was a house badly in need of repair. Outside, four acres of weed-choked land surrounded the grand old house and barn.

Blog Photo - Ebor House overgrown lawn

Inside, the rooms were derelict.

Blog Photo - Ebor House derelict Room 1

Cobwebs hung from the ceilings.  The rooms were crammed with old contents.

And there was that stuffy, old-house smell everywhere.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Derelict Room 3

But the  house spoke to him and he answered. Ron was a man in love.

**

It was 8 years later when I knocked on Ron’s door.

As Ron welcomed me into his house, there were no signs that it had once been in disrepair. The place glowed from the love and attention he had lavished on its restoration.

We sat in the refurbished kitchen, sipping coffee.  I had questions and the first was the most obvious.

“What possessed you — to take on such a daunting task?” I asked.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Kitchen and side door

“In life there are things you have to do,” he replied. “Some people have to climb Everest. I had to do this.”

Blog Photo - Ebor House Ron Smiling

I understood, sort of.  I remembered the magnetic pull I’d felt as I sat gawking at the house and surrounding property. It had drawn me back here today. 

Ron, a single parent, has four children and a dog. He ran his own business.  He also had “a huge interest in Canada’s architectural heritage and how it fits into its time”.  

He hurried to begin the restoration.

“I made the common mistake of plastering the walls and painting, then realized the roof was leaking”, he said. “The house also needed all new plumbing, heating and wiring. So I had to rip out some of that work and start again.”

Luckily, the seller still had the architectural drawings from 1867,  the year Canada became a nation. (Construction on Ebor House started the following year.)  Those drawings convinced Ron that he was on the right track.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Dining Room full

Fortunately, also, some chandeliers and furniture  – such as this Jacques & Hay sideboard on the right – were still in the house, where they’d been since 1869.  Ron bought other period furnishings – including lighting, paintings, mirrors, and other furniture — after meticulous research.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Green Room with portait and walls and furniture

Sometimes he felt like a detective trying to solve a mystery.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Living Room

The house and grounds provided clues that helped him along the way.

The pantry doors were found in the barn. Old pennies were found under the lawn.  Ron thinks the pennies, found together,  likely fell from someone’s pocket during a picnic.

Blog Photo - Ebor House back lawn

Blog Photo - Ebor House Canadian penny 1858

The more Ron learned, the better he understood how people lived in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Blog Photo - Ebor House entrance inside

“One thing I learned was how the double front doors were used. On days when the family was receiving guests, they’d open the outer door, while the inside door was closed. That would signal that visitors were welcome.”

Ron also became deeply interested in the Farncombs, who built the house and lived here for more than 130 years.  He shared with me what he knew.

I should have stopped there, but I was already hooked. I needed to learn more. And that would lead me to a powerful story that was both joyful and heartbreaking.

**Click here for Part 3: The Farncombs.

40 thoughts on “A Man in Love With a House – Pt. 2 in the Ebor House Series”

    1. Isn’t it, though? For me, it’s like following a piece of string, and making great discoveries along the way. to think this all happened by accident. (And I can hear blogger-friends Eric, Levi – and even Ron himself — saying “It wasn’t an accident, Cynthia!”,

      1. I often think we are ‘meant’ to be somewhere/do something because quite often these things change our lives, or at least our minds. If we are receptive to these new influences or scenes etc our world can expand and we can grow.

      2. Interesting that you say that, Clare. For years after the accident, I turned off those receptors. I was too afraid to risk even venturing outside of the house for long stretches. And so a thing that had helped to define my life and character – being open to others, willing to take a risk, venture off the beaten path – got shut down almost completely.

        Luckily, God sent people here to me in our old farmhouse, and I was forced to take an interest in strangers.

  1. A wonderful story about a beautiful house. How lucky that someone came along with the vision and dedication to return the house to its former glory.

  2. Beautiful house and restoration, and bringing life back to this house seems far more important than conquering Everest. Poor Everest; it’s in need of restoration and love.

      1. Ah, Cynthia, that is my brain side-tracking again. It just struck me that when people say they want to climb Everest, it is usually about ‘conquering’ and ‘mastering’, and the end result is not particularly happy for Everest. With Ron, he is listening to an old house and its environment, bringing it back to life, and working with it. His challenge, his interest, his dream, involve co-operation and care. I like that.

  3. A stately home beautifully restored with passion! The house has character and it takes a person like Ron to see the potential when he first saw it. Interesting post on Ebor House, Thank you, Cynthia.

    1. How kind of you, Rose.
      A whole separate set of my stories is published in Arabella Art and Architecture Magazine.
      I have so loved this story that I haven’t yet come up for air to figure out what else I may do with it. I’m learning so much.

  4. Wow. I’m in love too. I adore old houses and I am so glad there are people like Ron to buy and restore them. So many are torn down to make way for new ones. Pity. What an excellent storyteller you are, Cynthia. 🙂

    1. Elizabeth, I’m so glad you like it.
      I would love to hear your feedback to the other parts in the series, which tell the story of the family who lived at Ebor House.

  5. I am totally in love with your blog–the story-telling style just drags one in 🙂 I am going to have to sit a spell with you and a good cup of coffee…and get caught up!

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