There’s this: a crop of summer-blooming Amaryllis, a huge flower that normally blooms in winter — unless you’re like me and forgot the bulbs in the cold room until recently….
Then there’s this darling photo of Mr. D. and Mr. JC.
Then – for a change of pace – these two vintage cars….
…in front of my favorite 17-room mansion, Ebor House.
You may remember that time I got lost and ended up sipping coffee with a stranger in the kitchen of his beautiful old mansion.
Ebor House was built in 1868 by the Farncombs, a remarkable English-Canadian family which counted two Lord Mayors of London, England, as close relatives.
Well, there I was at Ebor House again last Saturday, and this time, for a very different reason.
For the second time, Ebor House was a highlight of Doors Open Clarington. The architectural conservancy event features many beautiful heritage buildings in Clarington. And I was the author guest, invited to speak about my books, share my knowledge of Ebor House and also the Farncombs’ history.
While I was in one room, “Farnie”, great-grandson of Frederick and Jane Farncomb, was in another room, charming visitors with tales of growing up at Ebor House. He inspired me to keep going: his energy was so radiant!
Well over a thousand visitors — including a few cyclists- visited Ebor House.
Some were the younger generations of the Farncomb family, keen to learn the history of their family and their ancestral home. I was glad to meet them and answer their questions.
I was pleased that my sleuthing through history also ended up helping Doors Open Clarington. My thanks to MaryAnn Isbister, whose excellent design work turned my 6-part blog series on Ebor House into a full-colour fundraising booklet for the event.
The volunteers (including Leo Blindenbach, who was in charge of the Ebor House site) were organized and gracious — as were the new owners of Ebor House, Andrea and Nav. Yes – Ebor House has new owners — or should I say “stewards”? They have been loving and caring for the old house, and making further repairs.
Organizers Bernice Norton, Marilyn Morawetz, Leo and the rest of the Doors Open Clarington team should be very proud! Bravo, all of you!
I got a surprising note today from a man named Brian. It’s about a place I wrote of in 2014, when I got lost and came upon an amazing house in a strangely beautiful neighborhood.
Here is Brian’s letter:
“Cynthia, I just stumbled on your blog because I live on the same street as Ebor House in the beautiful historic area called Bond Head and I’m doing some research to fight the Clarington Town Council’s plan to redevelop our area.
They are planning street widening, curbs and sidewalks. Classic paving of paradise. They are even considering a splash pad and monkey bars at the little parquets where the fishers do their thing.
Does everything need to be developed? What is wrong with having a few gems left untouched to remind us of the past?”
And here is “Lost Without A Clue” — the first post in a series that became by far the most widely-read story on my blog. You can read this post alone or the entire series:
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.
The main street sparkles with decorations and, starting this Friday, Christmas activities.
Locals and visitors alike will enjoy the Olde Tyme Candlelight Christmas Parade, skating on Toogood Pond, shopping in the stores and farmers’ market.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Three children have grown to adulthood here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Christmas decorations by Jan Corbett.
Thanks to Karyn Boehmer, Lorne Chapman and the Unionville BIA for their images.