Category Archives: A Good Home

Home at The Grange – Part 3

 

Kendal, northeast of Toronto, has many heritage properties, some dating back to the mid-1800’s. That’s why it’s the focus of Clarington’s Doors Open architectural conservancy tour on June 10th 2017. 

Blog Photo - Doors Open Clarington Photo Kendal2

The Grange — Wendy and Nicholas Boothman’s farm property — will be a highlight of the tour. 

Blog Photo - Doors Open The Grange seen from Hill Hamlin

So will “Southwinds”, below.  Visitors will be be able to see these houses, barns and properties up-close and learn about their architectural and family histories.

Also known as “The Marr House”, Southwinds was built of cut-stone in 1845 for Scottish immigrant Alexander Marr and his family. 

Blog Photo - Doors Open Southwinds 2 CU of House

Above photos: credit Doors Open Clarington 

Marilyn Morawetz, leader of Doors Open Clarington, says The Grange and Southwinds are excellent examples of their era. 

“Both represent typical architecture at the time by or for families with much to contribute to the early development of the Kendal and Orono areas.  Even the barns on both properties are wonderful examples of architecture and life at that time.” 

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But let’s return to the Boothmans’ grand adventure in country-living and renovating.

Blog Photo - Doors Open The Grange Sign and driveway Hamlin

The renovation would take 4 long years. 

But the family loved their home, even before it was completed. So did friends, who visited on weekends during and after the renovation. 

Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick Early Photo Ping Pong

Finally, all the major work was done. The barn foundations were repaired; the house was made comfortable; the pool and garden put in; the planned extension and verandah added.

The results were beautiful.

Blog Photo - Doors Open The Grange House CU Hamlin

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Blog Photo - Doors Open The Grange Wendy and Nick in front of painting in DRoom photo by Hamlin

With a comfortable house, a sturdy barn and farm animals, 140 acres and spectacular views, the farm was also a gorgeous setting. Nick says:

“After we were well settled at The Grange, the outdoor Shakespearean group Driftwood Theatre Group were looking for an outdoor venue for their first dress rehearsal and they found the beautiful settings at The Grange, perfect.

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

“So for 6 years in a row, we would have great fun inviting friends and their families from the area and Toronto to join us for an outdoor performance of Shakespeare.  Their first season was Romeo and Juliet. 

“It was fun and we like to think it gave Driftwood Theatre Group a good start on what has become a very successful annual attraction in Durham Region and beyond.”

Blog Photo - Doors Open The Grange Nick looks at property Hamlin

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Life, of course, has its ups and downs.

In 1998, Nick became ill. 

The children told Wendy: “Mummy, we’ll be okay. You focus on getting Daddy better.”

Wendy set a rule: there’d be no sadness and feeling sorry around Nick. At 5 p.m. every day, they held ‘happy hour’ in the bedroom and opened a bottle of red wine. She told visitors only funny stories and positive talk were allowed.

Blog Photo - Doors Open The Grange Magnolia CU by Hamlin

But one day, Wendy “needed to explode”. She drove up the hill to the spot where the whole family had gathered that first day for the picnic, got out of the car, dropped to her knees and banged on the ground with her fists, and screamed.

On her way back, a huge stag stood in one of the fields, staring at her. It didn’t flinch as she passed.  Wendy felt the stag was saying: “It’s all going to be okay”.

“And it was,” says Wendy.

Blog Photo - Doors Open The Grange Wendy on Screaming Hill

From that day, whenever anyone needed to scream about something happy or sad, they’d go to that spot. Today, friends still call to ask if they can go up there and “have a scream”.

That’s how the spot got its name: “Wendy’s Screaming Hill”.

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Photos 1 and 3 by Doors Open Clarington

Photo 5 by Nicholas Boothman.

All other photos by Hamlin Grange

See More Photos of the renovated Grange in Part 4!

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Filed under A Good Home, Architecture and Design, Canadian life, Clarington, Country Living, Doors Open, Doors Open Clarington, Family Moments, Farms, Gardens, Heritage Homes, Home Decor

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.” 

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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 2nd 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.”

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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.

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Soon after the Boothmans moved in, a 75  year-old man showed up unannounced, walked towards 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!”

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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

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

Part 3 comes next!

 

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