A Good Home, Architecture, Barns, Canadian life, Christmas, Christmas Decorations, Christmas in a Village, Heritage Home for Sale, Heritage Homes, Heritage nieghborhoods, Home, Interior Design, Ontario

One Last Christmas in a Beloved Home

I’m repeating this story from last Christmas because the house and village are both charming examples of ‘Canadiana’ at Christmastime.


Christmas is a special time in Unionville, a village just north of Toronto.

Blog Photo - Unionville Main Stree at Christmas -  Lorne Chapman Photo

The main street sparkles with decorations and, starting this Friday, Christmas activities.

Main Street photos by Lorne Chapman
Main Street pictures by Lorne Chapman

Locals and visitors alike will enjoy the Olde Tyme Candlelight Christmas Parade, skating on Toogood Pond, shopping in the stores and farmers’ market.

Karyn Boehmer photo
Karyn Boehmer photo

Christmas is also a special time in local homes, and perhaps none more so than at this home, below. The family who has lived here for 23 years is selling and moving on; this will be their last Christmas in this home. 

Karyn Boehmer photo
Karyn Boehmer photo

Interested buyers may visit the “open house” on Sunday Dec 14 from 2  to 4 p.m. 

Homeowners Lorrie and Mark created the large addition that connects the original brick house, above left, to the old barn, extreme right and below.

Karyn Boehmer Photo
Karyn Boehmer Photo

Blog Photo - Stiver House L and Charlie

Blog Photo - Stiver Staircase

Blog Photo - Stiver Christmas Decor CU

The original house was built in the 1870’s by Charles Stiver, a carpenter whose family ran the local mill (now the site of the local farmers’ market). Its history is recorded in documents and paintings, such as this one above the fireplace.

Blog Photo - Stiver House Family Room Fireplace, Painting and Chair

Every Christmas here has been special, says Lorrie. 

“Our most memorable Christmas was undoubtedly last year with the ice storm! We were without power for five days and hosted Christmas dinner for 21 by candlelight! The three fireplaces kept us toasty and the food was heated by stove-top and a nearby neighbour’s oven.” 

Photo by Karyn Boehmer
Karyn Boehmer Photo

Three children have grown to adulthood here. 

Blog Photo - Stiver House Christmas Mat

Lorrie’s fond memories include baking with the children and “the kids banging pots in the kitchen”. There have been many meals and discussions; homework; celebrations; laughter, tears, arguments and hugs.

Blog Photo - Stiver House Kitchen Area 1

She remembers extended family visits, especially her mother’s. Everyone — adults, kids and dogs — loved walking the nearby trails, stopping at the ponds.


Mark and Lorrie honoured their home’s heritage in the addition. 

Blog Photo - Stiver House Chair in Conservatory

Blog Photo - Stiver House Conservatory Wideshot

Karyn Boehmer Photo
This photo and the two below are by Karyn Boehmer

Karyn Boehmer Photo

Blog Photo - Stiver Staircase

The results earned the couple a heritage award. Their work has been “a pride and joy” for Mark:

“The 12-inch baseboards in the addition were milled to match the ones in the old house. The antique barn beams in the addition mimic a post & beam structure. The pine floors are milled from 100+ year old pine barn beams. The stairs, railings and fireplace surround were milk painted and distressed on site.”

There are whimsical touches in several rooms, including the mural in the master bathroom, painted by an acclaimed artist.

Blog Photo - Stiver House Mural Poppies and Iris

Blog Photo - Stiver Hosue Mural2

Blog Photo - Stiver House Unionville Mural1

After 23 years here, the family is moving on with mixed emotions.

They can never forget this place. They hope that the new owners will love it.

Blog Photo - Stiver House Entry and Courtyard

blog photo - stiver house christmas urn

blog photo - stiver house window box


Christmas decorations by Jan Corbett.

Thanks to Karyn Boehmer, Lorne Chapman and the Unionville BIA for their images.

82 thoughts on “One Last Christmas in a Beloved Home”

      1. No snow here at all. It’s very muddy as the ground is not frozen..yuck!! I am heading up to Hamilton Friday for 2 hockey games for Chance. Sure wish it was closer to Unionville!!

    1. Lorrie was telling me that theirs was one of the few homes where the family could stay home in those 5 days – between the insulting factors and the fireplaces, they stayed warm and even hosted Christmas dinner.

  1. I have packed my bags and am moving to Unionville…NOW! A Picture post card perfect town and a fabulous house. I can just imagine the good feeling which any prospective buyer would get just walking in there. All those happy experiences and the love and heart and soul which has been poured into it do not leave with the owners.It is a very special place.
    Thank you Cynthia.

  2. Dear Cynthia,
    Greetings from Switzerland. Wow Unionville, looks right out of a Thomas Kinkade painting, or a town on Hallmark, will have to visit it when I am next in Canada, have friend in Kingston I’ve been meaning to visit. Thanks for sharing these amazing pics, what inspiration, the house is amazing too!!

    1. Hi Jodie:
      It is a special place, for sure. Perfect for strolling, gawking, and just a feeling of pleasure when you notice how beautifully the village has maintained its heritage. Nice restaurants and shops too.

    1. One of the nicest murals I’ve ever seen, Julie. There are unique touches throughout the home, that speak to its history or the family’s treasured belongings and memories.

  3. You live in such a picturesque town Cynthia! The cottages in the first picture are so cute, I thought it must be a movie set. And the house that’s pending sale is simply gorgeous. I love a house with great old bones.

      1. …from experience. My Mom and Dad had to sell my maternal home and the buyers LOVE – it is home to a wonderful family who continues to improve the property. And we are always welcome back there.

  4. Im sorry that you feel the time has come to move on, and I hope the next owners will cherish it the way you have. Thanks for sharing the true beautiy of this place, there are very few like it any more. beebeesworld

    1. I know that Lorrie, Mark and family will read your comment and be thankful for it.
      And you’re right: there are fewer and fewer homes like this, especially in the Toronto area, which seems to have been seized by the ‘faux chateaux’ fever – new homes and renovated ones are almost always of that style.

  5. All the best with the sale of your home and your new life afterwards. We sold our family home in Kingston last year and downsized so that we had less work and responsibility and more freedom to travel etc. Home truly is wherever the heart is. And even though I miss my old home at times – a lovely new family is taking a turn there. Hope the same happens for you.

    1. Not my home, but I am wishing the family all the best too. I hear you about downsizing. Many of my friends are doing so now.
      How nice to picture a new family “taking a turn” in your old home. That’s how it goes!

  6. That is a dream house; how could you ever leave it willingly? I can understand opting for a smaller place with less stuff and work.
    May God guide you into this next step. ❤

  7. Must be an emotional time for this family especially it’s this season of Christmas. Thank you, Cynthia, for this beautiful post. All best wishes and blessings for the season to you and family, Cynthia! Love, Iris

    1. You’ve hit the nail on the head. It is a very emotional time for them, Iris. Preparing for Christmas while trying to get your beloved house sold must be a very challenging experience for anyone.
      My best to you.

  8. I have to say that that village seems to be taken out from a fairly tale move. And the house…. you wan´t to adopt a 32 year old Spanish guy? What a comfy house that is. Very beautiful both the village and the house.

  9. Hey Charly:
    I wish that family would adopt me! OK, just kidding. But it is a special place, and very Canadian too. I’ve only been there a few times, and each time I notice something I hadn’t seen before.

    1. Thanks, Jo, and the same to you.
      That home: it is quintessentially Canadian, as I realized when I visited. Not in its size, but in the look, feel and spirit of the home. Modern, yet honouring the place and time in which the original part was built.
      I’ll pass on your good wishes.

  10. What a charming town – those first 2 photos are straight from a Christmas card – just lovely photos – they look like paintings. The home is unreal. I can’t imagine ever maintaining a house that size in the way it needs to b cared for. I’d have to have staff! But it is breathtaking throughout – what an amazing job they did.

    1. Gee, I could use some staff right here in my much smaller home! I agree – it must take a lot of cleaning, dusting, etc. But it is such a lovely place. Every room is beautiful and it has a great ‘family feel’..

    1. I imagine so, especially at first. But it is a huge house and the time had come to move to something smaller. Interesting that you still see your grandparents’ home in your dreams. You must have been happy there.

  11. I must have visited you last Christmas because I remember the post, Cynthia. I hope they are very happy in their new home. I love the use of coloured ribbons. Merry Christmas to you, hon! I hope that you and yours have a joyous and peaceful time. 🙂

  12. What a gorgeous post, Cynthia. I need a character house fix every once in awhile. It inspires me to love on my own humble 1940’s abode a bit more and do what I can to make it shine better. Home Sweet Home.
    Christmas Blessings on your lovely home & family ~ Wendy

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