A Good Home, Architectural Conservancy, Architecture and Design, Canadian Homes, Canadian life, Homes

The Fabulous Ravenscraig

PHOTOS BY HAMLIN GRANGE

RESEARCH BY KIMBERLY VANEYK

Mrs. Strike lives in Bowmanville’s beautiful historic district, near Toronto. Blog Photo - House Ravenscraig Mrs Strike at Jigsaw puzzle Her home, Ravenscraig, is outstanding – for its design as well as the people associated with it.  Blog Photo - House - Ravenscraig Two former mayors lived here.  This grand home hosted many receptions, dinner parties, Rotary gatherings and afternoon tea. Guests included prominent members of society.

How heartwarming then, that Mrs. Strike’s fondest memories focus not on those powerful people, but on the places in her home where her three sports-loving sons played. Blog Photo - House Ravenscraig the Strike Sons Historian Kimberly Vaneyk and I had the pleasure of visiting Mrs. Strike recently to learn more about her home. Blog Photo - House Ravenscraig Mrs. Strike Kim and CynthiaWe loved the stories about her sons’ escapades. Blog Photo - House Ravenscraig Mrs Strike in Upper Hallway The grand entrance hallway where uniformed servants greeted dinner-party guests, took their hats and coats and ushered them inside? Blog Photo - House Ravenscraig Entranceway That’s where the Strike boys played basketball during winter, breaking only one piece of precious stained glass with their Nerf ball. Blog Photo - House Ravenscraig Beautiful Upstairs Hallway The living-room/ballroom where guests danced? Blog Photo - House Ravenscraig Stained Glass lady Blog Photo - House Ravenscraig Mrs Strike laughs with Kim and Cynthia That’s where the boys practiced hockey. (They also played in the basement.) And why do you suppose Mr. and Mrs. Strike bought this grand home back in 1963? Blog Photo - House Ravenscraig Mr and Mrs Strike Photo “Seems silly,she says, smiling, “but our boys were in hockey and it was near the rink!”

The Strikes even built a skating rink for their sons and friends.

“Our own south lawn was always a big rink every winter since 1963.  For the sides of the rink, we used doors, old boards, anything that could stop the puck! Everybody knew that rink.”

There was also the “Wounders’ Tournament” – won by the player who managed to throw most of his friends into/over the boards. Blog Photo - House Ravenscraig side view from sidewalk

THE DESIGN

In a town of grand homes, Ravenscraig is one of the grandest. Blog Photo - House Ravesncraig Turret The house’s Queen Anne style is rare even here in the historic district. Its turrets are eye-catching. Blog Photo - House Ravenscraig Barn Blog Photo - House Ravenscraig Feature 2 Fireplace carving Interior features are also distinctive. Blog Photo - House Ravenscraig Newel Post Blog Photo - House Ravenscraig Feature 2 Blog Photo - House Ravenscraig Stained Glass Lady 2 Designed for wealthy families who entertained a lot, special attention was paid to the movement of servants – and the flow between hallway, kitchen, dining-room and living-room. Blog Photo - House Ravenscraig Dining Room

RAVENSCRAIG’S FABULOUS PAST

Ravenscraig attracted the famous and the fabulous, the wealthy and influential, the good and the great. Bowmanville’s former mayor, Dr. Hillier, and his family had Ravenscraig built in the late 1800’s. Blog Photo - House Trees and Historic sign They entertained dignitaries from religion, medicine, law, business and politics and held fundraisers to support the community.

Mrs. Hillier herself knitted 500 pairs of socks for local soldiers during World War 1. Subsequent owners included the Schon’s, who fled Austria just before World War 2.

Ravenscraig became a focal point for the arts. Guests included well-known musicians, painters and European actress Methchild Harkness, the Schons’ houseguest. 

A second mayor, Morley Vanstone, and his family lived here after the Schons. The Vanstones were a wealthy family who owned the local mill. Blog Photo - House Ravenscraig Fireplace Each family left its mark… especially true for Dr. Hillier, whose initials are carved in the fireplace mantel. Blog Photo - House Ravenscraig Hillier Signature in Mantel

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Warm thanks to Mrs. Strike for her gracious welcome, to historian Kimberly Vaneyk and to Hamlin Grange for the photos.

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44 thoughts on “The Fabulous Ravenscraig”

    1. Hey Brad, I hope it’s a bit of both! Actually, I was laughing at myself when I read this. I so rarely go out that I tend to blog about everyone whose home I visit, and everyone who visits me at home! Yikes. I’m living vicariously through these people, I think.

      1. As long as you’re smiling and having fun. You have a gift for story telling. And if you also gain by living vicariously, all the better. I do some of that too with my awesome stories. 🙂

  1. An interesting piece of history and beautiful home. Even the mantel of the fireplace has lovely carvings! Thanks for your write up, Cynthia, all very informative. 🙂

    1. Hi Geralyn: You’re welcome.
      They have such intrigue to them, old houses and turrets. I like the nooks and crannies (“for cooks and nannies”) that one finds in old houses.

  2. Such a historic, stoic looking home. I can appreciate with only 1 boy how important it must have been to be close to the rink having to shuffle 3 boys back and forth. Beautiful home and pictures!

  3. I love your outfit Cynthia, hot pink suits you! Mrs Strike has a beautiful home, I love the story of turning the front lawn into an ice rink, the boys were very lucky to have such an encouraging mum.

  4. What a beautiful house! I love the antique stained glass in the door and all the wood carving. Such a lovely home too. It sounds like all the owners have loved it and have enjoyed sharing it with their friends, neighbours and colleagues. Thank-you for the tour, Cynthia!

    1. Thanks, Clare. Glad you liked Ravenscraig. There were many more fabulous features and stories that I couldn’t share here, including one amazing (good) thing that happened to Mrs. Strike and me while I was there. Brought me to tears almost. I will have to share that at another time.

    1. I so rarely go visiting that almost every time I go out somewhere I write about it — and order my poor photographer to take photos! But this time, historian Kim got me invited to see this remarkable home, and I am glad she did. It was a good outing. Very, very gradually, I think I’m getting to know Canada’s history through its homes and larger-than-life personalities, as well as its “ordinary” families.

  5. The best part is that people really LIVED in this house–it wasn’t some sort of mausoleum! And the ice rink–my favorite part! I haven’t been able to talk my husband into one . . .yet!

  6. What a magnificent place. I was actually quite taken with that beautiful barn! p.s. Though where I live has been modernized, it’s from 1890 and shares the same pocket doors that I noticed in one of the photos – except their house has retained all of its original beauty. Pocket doors are such a wonderful thing. Thanks for sharing!
    Jeanne

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