We have babies! “We” being the pair of doves that nest in the vines just outside our window.
These birds are monogamous. Their roles are quite specific at first and perfectly illustrate the term “nesting”. The male selects the spot for the nest (“Hey Babe: I’ve found us a nice piece of property!”) He also collects the twigs and brings them to the female, who builds the nest.
After that, the parenting duties are shared equally: the egg-sitting (the male sits on the eggs during the day, the female at night) and the baby-feeding duties, and watching out for predators.
This morning, we noticed that the mother/father had left the nest for a little while, so Hamlin took this photo through the window:
Isn’t it a strange-looking little grey bundle? They hardly look like birds!
Meanwhile, under our deck, the robins have built a nest. This couple shares the gathering of twigs, and the female builds the nest alone. It usually takes her 2 to 6 days.
I’m wondering if the female had help this time because the nest was built in just one day. (It was built after a night of soaking rain, which is ideal for gathering building materials.)
And that, in my uninformed opinion, is an amazing feat. So we’ve decided to let the nest be.
Which means, when the robin babies are born, we’ll be dive-bombed every time we pass. Yikes.
Ron Coffin did such a great job restoring Ebor House that he was honoured for it.
He received the Newcastle Village and District Historical Society’s Preservation Award in 2011.
He also opened the house to the community on a recent architectural conservancy day and 600 visitors came.
A pianist played beautiful music.
The visitors toured the grand old house, admiring the furnishings and paintings, old and new.
Ron has invested untold time, love and money into his home.
“This place has nurtured me. Not just me but others too. One friend stayed here in the winter, healing from an accident. It’s nurtured her.”
The children are grown up. Ron says it’s time to leave. Ebor House is too big for one person.
He looks around at rooms sparkling with sunshine, beauty and a strong sense of well-being. He tells me yet another story about the house and the Farncombs. He calls each family member by first name.
I say: “You don’t sound like a man who’s selling this house.”
He says he is.
“I truly believe the house is looking for a buyer, rather than a person looking for this house. It’s a very special place. Last evening four of us had a wonderful supper under the trees and at the end of our meal we were visited by one of the hawks that have decided to call this place home this year. Just magical!”
As for me?
It started when I got lost a few weeks ago and saw this house.
I wanted to know more.
But the single discovery that kept me searching was the August 1901 New York Times story about the drowning of the two Farncomb boys.
My heart sank when I read it.
A parent myself, I wanted – perhaps even needed – to know that things turned out well for the family.
Of course — since this is real life and not a fairy tale — they did and they didn’t.
The Farncomb family survived and, over the decades, many thrived.
John and Jane and the boys were not forgotten.
But life must go on, at least after a while.
And so it did.
Farncomb descendants became successful in Canadian business, education, law, medicine and other fields such as literature and media.
They still own property in Bond Head, and still have influence. In 2002, one descendant (among other residents) protested against a plan to change the name of a local street. He argued it made no sense. He also pointed out that Farncombs had lived there for 150 years. And that he owned much of the land in the area.
His side won.
My interest in a house became a story about other people’s lives.
I double-checked each finding, then begged homeowner Ron and Myno Van Dyke, secretary of the local historical society, to read some of what I’d written. I thank them.
I conclude the series knowing I’ve done my best to make it fair, factual — and kind. But I know there is much more to the story of Ebor House and its families than I’ve written here.
This story is dedicated to the descendants of Frederick and Jane Farncomb.
POST-SCRIPT: EBOR HOUSE HAS NEW OWNERS — OR PERHAPS I SHOULD CALL THEM ‘NEW STEWARDS’. I WISH THEM JOYFUL TIMES IN THIS EXCEPTIONAL HOME.
Thanks to: Newcastle Village and District Historical Society; Library and Archives Canada; Archives of the City of London, England; Trinity College, Port Hope; Canadian Anglican Church; St. George’s, Newcastle; the Canadian Encyclopaedia; The New York Times and several other Canadian and American newspapers; and other sources. Some photos of Ebor House came from Promise First Realty’s website.