Home at The Grange – Part 2

Wendy and Nick aren’t afraid of challenges.

Blog Photo - Doors Open The Grange Hamlin Photo beware of falling coconuts

Nick, a fashion photographer, left his home in the UK and moved to Portugal. 

As a teenager, Wendy modeled in Europe for Yves St. Laurent and Valentino. She started her own modelling agency in Portugal at only 18. She and Nick met there, married, and started working together.

Next, they moved to Canada and built successful careers. They and their family had a comfortable life in Toronto. 

Then came the big move to the country, 5 kids in tow.  

Wendy remembers neighbour after neighbour saying: “I give you 3 years.” 

~~~

The big move fell on Hallowe’en, and that was the first problem.

Blog Photo - Doors Open Clarington Photo Cemetery

There’s a tiny pioneer cemetery next door to the farm and the children were convinced there’d be ghosts on Hallowe’en. They refused to come along.

Nick remembers: “We had to farm them out to friends in Toronto for the weekend while Wendy and I dealt with the movers and sorted out to arrange everything in this dilapidated space……  In the end it was a good thing they were not around so we could get everything sorted before they came out.”

Next problem?

Blog Photo - Doors Open The Grange Barn Overlooking trees and Raod Hamlin

The barn’s foundation needed urgent repairs. Those repairs had to come first. 

That winter was brutal. 

“We literally camped in the house from fall to spring.  In a cold house a quarter the size of our previous home.”

Months later, Nick and Wendy knocked down some internal walls, turning three tiny rooms into a kitchen-breakfast room. They also built the pool.

Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick Photo of Kids in Pool

They sent out a change of address card to their friends, titled “The Boothmans are outstanding in their field”.

Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick Early Photo of Family at The Grange

But first came the episode with “Farmer Nick”.

“So now I was living on a farm, I needed a tractor.  Of course a big John Deere is most young boys’ dream, so I found myself a great second-hand deal. 

There was some tweaking that had to be done to it so a week or so later, I got home from Toronto with Wendy and the children and there it was – perfectly parked in front of the driveshed by the house, facing down the drive and the key in the ignition.  Wendy and the children went inside to get organized for dinner and I jumped on my tractor.

Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick early Photo of Top of Driveway

“About 30 minutes later Wendy came running out of the house frantically waving her arms in the air.  I was across the courtyard at the top of the drive, by the barn.  I turned off the tractor to ask what was wrong, when she pointed behind me.  I had ploughed up the courtyard – 2 foot furrows… including the telephone lines!  It took 2 days before we could get a car out.  Of course the children were thrilled to miss school.”

~~~

As they renovated and settled in, they also learned about the history of their new home. The Boothmans were only the third family to own the house.

Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick Early Photo of Kids in Front of House

Back in 1837, brothers Tom and William Elliott walked nine miles into the Kendal bush from Newtonville and chose this land for their farm. Their parents and three sisters came from Ireland the following year and the family built their first house.

The permanent dwelling – the farmhouse — was built in the late 1850’s. Several generations of Elliotts lived here.

One Elliott was a master carpenter. He added the part of the house that’s now the Boothmans’ kitchen-breakfast room.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Soon after the Boothmans moved in, a 75  year-old man showed up unannounced, walked to a corner of the kitchen and said: “I’m standing in the spot where I was born.”

It became an annual visit by Reg Elliott, whose ancestors had built the house.

Reg also checked on the renovations. Once, after Nick had installed a brand-new corn-burning stove, Reg glimpsed the corn in the stove and remarked: “That’s a helluva place for a bird-feeder!”

~~~

That first winter, the nearby ski-club was a god-send. The children spent Saturdays and Sundays there.

Blog Photo - Doors Open Brimacombe Ski Hill

That summer, the family “lived” in the newly-built pool and garden – swimming, barbecuing, and playing guitars. 

The children loved the farm.

“They found it a safe place for them and their friends. It was friendly, quiet and calm, surrounded by nature. They hiked, swam, hung out, camped on the grounds. And they rode their horses. We all rode.”

Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick early photo of child on horse

~~~

Top 3 Photos by Hamlin Grange, the rest by Nicholas Boothman

Part 3 comes next!

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29 Comments

Filed under A Good Home, Country Living, Doors Open, Family Moments, Farm house, Farms

29 responses to “Home at The Grange – Part 2

  1. What a wonderful life they built for themselves!

  2. It’s starting to sound like fun living on their farm/ homestead.

  3. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    And here is Part two of the story of the Home at the Grange.. #recommended

  4. Definitely worth the challenge, sounds like a great life.

  5. I’m so surprised by all the people who left such warm places to move to Canada and then actually stayed. It’s a beautiful country but I’ve grown up with New Hampshire winters and I’m pretty sure that winter would be colder and snowier there. I wonder if I could take it!

  6. Cynthia, thanks for sharing all this – I love it. It takes a lot of courage – and yeah, bit of the green stuff – but how amazing is their progress. Part 3? Yay! Jeanne

  7. What a wonderful story of Wendy and Nick’s beginnings in their new home!

  8. Another wonderful instalment

  9. Good Second Part, Cynthia. The pictures made it special. 🙂 — Suzanne

  10. You know this is my kinda living!! So enjoying catching up on this!!

  11. What a family! Those early years must have been such a struggle for them all, especially the winters. I expect Nick wasn’t ‘flavour of the month’ for a time after he’d ploughed the yard!

    • Well, the kids got to miss school (which they loved), as the cars couldn’t get out the driveway, but after a couple of days, I bet he lost favour! You’re right, though: what stamina they must have had. And with 5 children. My goodness.

  12. Pingback: Home at The Grange – Part 4 | Cynthia Reyes - Author

  13. Pingback: Serendipity: A Post-Script to The Grange Series | Cynthia Reyes - Author

  14. reg elliott

    its lovely, your home. i’m glad yous enjoy. lots of work

  15. Oh it sounds just wonderful .. even with plowing up the courtyard! And Reg popping in to .. That’s special 😃

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