A Good Home

Goodbye Downton. Hello, Elton!


Creator Julian Fellowes says the upcoming season of Downton Abbey will be the last.

Pass me a handkerchief; I need to have a little cry. 

Blog Photo - Downton Abbey Family and Staff

The grand, fabulous Highclere Castle serves as the fictional Downton Abbey, home of the Crawley family. It’s a mansion, yes, but for many wealthy English aristocrats of the time, such places were home.

Blog Photo - Downton-Abbey

My life is far removed from the world of Downton.  I don’t think they’d have allowed me to even be a servant at Downton back then.

Blog Photo - Downton Abbey ladies at tea

And definitely not a cook …. though with good reason.

Maybe an exotic  musician, the only black character so far on the show … though I can’t sing, so maybe not.

Blog Photo - Downton Abbey Maggie Smith

But I digress.

Blog Photo - Downton abbey at christmas

I love the series for the socially conscious storylines about how people deal with difference.

The moments of shock when people step out of line, and the frank prejudice that assumes everyone around has those prejudices too. And,  countering all that, the great decency at the heart of the show. It acknowledges that class and prejudice were the era’s built-ins, but that humans can sometimes rise above them and be simply decent and sensible.

I love the series for showing people trying to ‘better” themselves, whether through better decisions, or better jobs. 

Blog Photo - Downton Abbey Family and Servants in Green room

And let’s not forget the home itself: the grand rooms, the big kitchen, the fabulous clothes. And the characters. Maggie Smith has almost as many acerbic one-liners as Dorothy Parker.

Blog Photo - Downton abbey interior



But where Downton captures a slice of the past, Elton McDonald captures the future.

Blog Photo - Elton McD - MacLeans Magazine

Elton McDonald is the young Toronto man whose private retreat set international news agencies abuzz. Police and media feared it was meant to be a terror tunnel, built to do damage to the PanAm Games in Toronto this year.

But no! It was created by an ambitious young builder from a very poor Toronto neighborhood. Many of us dream of a retreat,  a home away from home, but Elton needed it more than most.

Blog Photo - Elton McD Home from MacLeans Mag

A dreamer who has a genius for building, this young man devotedly built his tunnel as an escape from the tougher realities of life. This tunnel below was Elton’s home away from home, decorated only with a Remembrance Day poppy and a rosary.

Blog Photo - Elton Tunnel from Toronto Police

When you read his story, you will see why this guy is destined for great things. And perhaps you’ll see why, of the two stories mentioned in this post, this is the one that stole my heart.

Elton, we hope that one day you’ll be able to build a castle of your own – even if it’s underground.

Blog Photo - Elton McD with shovel - Photo  from MacLean's Magazine

More about Elton’s story and his plans:



Will be sad to see you go, Downton.

But hooray for Elton! I’m wishing you a great and happy life.

Credit: Thanks to Della Rollins and Maclean’s Magazine for the photos of Elton McDonald, and to ITV and PBS for Downton photos.  And thanks to Lauren Reyes-Grange for sending me the links to these stories.

47 thoughts on “Goodbye Downton. Hello, Elton!”

  1. Intriguing story about Elton and his cave building. And I must admit to a fondness for Downton Abbey also. 🙂 I’m not much of a TV watcher, but a friend introduced me to the series and I found myself hooked. 🙂
    Thanks for the fun stories Cynthia.

  2. Thanks for sharing! What a talented and brave man this Elton is! An amazing reminder of all the “unknown” geniuses living amongst us. Just waiting for that right opportunity to make his mark. I am cheering for him all the way!!! Having withdrawal symptoms and cannot wait for the last season of Downton Abbey! No doubt Masterpiece Theatre and PBS will keep us tuned in and entertained until then (captive audience).

    1. Yes, I know the feeling about Downton. Do you recall that I mentioned Downton in my book A Good Home?

      As for Elton: what an inspiration. It also sounds like he’s from a very good family that has taught him well.

  3. What an amazing young man! I hope he manages to raise the funds he needs. I hadn’t heard this story before. I also must admit to only ever having watched the first episode of the first series of Downton! 😮

  4. I love the story about Elton, the tunnel digger. What an enterprising young man.
    We must be the only people in the country never to have seen a single episode of Downtown Abbey. That’ s because we don’ t actually have a television. We probably miss a lot of interesting programmes,but we read lots and listen to music. And that’ s the way we like it.

    1. So you’re the one. The last holdout from us network television types! Having had a wonderful career in public television, I, of course, believe in its role in developing minds and even nations. BUT I have also always admired people who resist the need to have a TV set. Especially now, with all the drivel on TV.
      Yes, isn’t Elton such an inspiration?

  5. Great juxtaposition of a tv series that depicts the past (didn’t watch much of it), and a young man from today. What a creative mind Elton has, and what an awesome future. this post deserves a second reading.

    1. Thanks, Diane. Lauren sent me these two stories one after the other, and I suddenly realize that they were both about ‘home’ in a very unusual way — and miles of class difference and decades of time between the two stories. The Crawleys are always fighting to hold on to their ancestral home, and Elton built himself his first ‘own home”.

    1. Amazing how much that show has grown on us. My daughter and I watched it from the beginning, back when few people had heard of it here, and we loved it from then.

  6. What an inspiring story and what a great young man. I’ll surely miss Downton Abbey, as well, but reading about Elton – that just put a huge grin on my face. Thanks so much for sharing this. It says what I know is true – if you give so many kids that need it half a chance and believe in them, they will surprise you and give back with their intelligence, their hearts and souls. I’m so happy to see he already exceeded his crowd funding request.

      1. I once worked with kids of all ages, all with neurological or emotional issues. (quite some time ago.) And that was what I learned firsthand, especially with the teenagers. It was amazing what these kids, who had often lived such painful, troubled lives, could pull out of their hats for just the smallest bit of belief in them. I’m smiling just remembering some of them.

  7. I have just followed your links Cynthia, I really hope Elton reaches his goals, he certainly has enough gumption to succeed. His family sound like very good people. My family live close by to Highclere Castle, it’s still occupied by real folk, although I am sure it’s not as grand as the Downton days. Thank you for sharing Elton’s story too.

    1. “Gumption” is a great word to describe the thing that drives people like Elton.

      So tell me: across as likable, even a bit down to earth. And with far fewer staff!

      You can’t help but wish them well when they talk about how hard it is to keep it going, and how the Downton series have helped them make the money they need to maintain the place.

      I figure that between his passion for and knowledge of Highclere and her accounting skills and appreciation for it, they probably have as good a chance as any to keep it going.

      1. I haven’t been into the house, my Dad is proud to report that he has visited on several occasions though. And it’s some time since I last visited the grounds, I think we have taken it for granted.

  8. I always wanted to watch Downton Abby, but having cancelled my TV service several years ago, I never did. I did hear there may be a movie. I read Elton’e story and can see why it stole your heart. What an impressive young man. I hope all his dreams for the future come true. Lovely story, Cynthia. Thanks for the story and the link. 🙂

  9. Cynthia, I’m so glad that Elton’s story had a happy ending in that he’s pursuing his dream. He reminds me of a young man that I know who also thinks outside the box and loves to work on projects out in the woods.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

  10. I’m a Downton fan as well, and while I’m sorry that the next season will be its last, I can see the sense in ending a series that way instead of chancing a dwindle-down into even a hint of mediocrity — not that I think Julian Fellowes would ever come close to that! He’s simply too darned good at what he does. 🙂

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