A Good Home, Architectural Conservancy, Author Cynthia Reyes, Barns, Canadian Families, Country Homes, Doors Open, Family Moments, Farms, Home Decor

Home at The Grange – Part 4

The house that the Elliott family built back in the late 1850’s fell into the right hands nearly 130 years later.

Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick photo of Apples and Wendy

It’s a good thing it did.

Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick early photo of family and chickens

In 1986, the place was so dilapidated that another buyer might have either demolished the house and barn, or renovated the character out of them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick early photo of Verandah etc

But the Boothmans had the vision, patience — and resources needed — to bring the property to new life, without destroying its character.

Blog Photo - Doors Open The Grange House CU Hamlin

~~

Allow me to digress a little at this point, please…

Remember that the Boothman kids refused at first to to move with their parents into the family’s farmhouse? It was Hallowe’en 1986, and with a cemetery for a neighbour, the children were afraid the ghosts would come next door to their home. (See Part 2)

Blog Photo - Doors Open Clarington Photo Cemetery

That historic cemetery is also on the Doors Open tour this year.  

It was the Elliott family who donated the land for this cemetery and the church that once stood there  — Kendal’s first church, New Connexion Methodist.  It was later named for the Elliotts and their neighbours, the McLeans.  

Of the two neighbouring families, the McLeans achieved greater fame.

A McLean grandson, (James Stanley McLean), became founder and president of the well-known Canada Packers company.  Wealthy and influential, James and his wife built a stately Georgian-style house on 50 acres in Toronto.

Blog Photo - Doors Open Estates of Sunnybrook photo of McLean House front

They called it “Bay View” — which later inspired the name of one of Canada’s wealthiest neighborhoods, Bayview Avenue.

Today their former home belongs to world-famous Sunnybrook Hospital.  Renamed “McLean House” in their honour, the house is used for events — a fundraiser for Sunnybrook’s medical research.

~~

But let’s return to the main story of how the Boothmans saved the Elliott house and created a beloved home for their own family.  

In restoring and renovating the property as they did, Nick and Wendy preserved its history, and went far beyond.

They gave it a new life, deserving of a new name: “The Grange”.  The Boothmans have therefore created a legacy of their own.

Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick Panorama of House

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~~

Three generations of the Boothman family — and their friends — have enjoyed The Grange.

Wendy remembers that “one of the children’s friends called and asked if he could get married here, saying: ‘The Grange is top of our list because of the memories and the setting. Is it doable?’ “

“Yes”, she replied.

In all, five weddings have been held here. Son Thomas, and 4 of the children’s friends, all held their weddings at The Grange.

Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick photo of wedding

Much has changed in 31 years.

 

Blog Photo - Doors Open Bernice Photo The Grange2

Wendy has launched a variety of ground-breaking projects. She’s assisted on some long-distance projects too. Born in S. Africa, she’s proud of helping her brother-in-law Mike with a project, led by Nelson Mandela, to develop effective volunteerism in S. Africa.

Blog Photo - Doors open MikeandMandela

More recently, she won, on behalf of Durham Region, the Guinness world record for the longest picnic table in the world.

Nick, meanwhile, has become a well-known author of several books.

Blog Photo - Nicholas Boothman Book 2

~~

The Boothman children have grown up. Wendy and Nick now have 5 grandchildren.

It’s the grandchildren’s time to explore and enjoy The Grange — this home settled by the Elliotts and transformed by the Boothmans, more than a hundred years apart.

Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick photo of Grandkids and kites.JPG

It doesn’t snow as heavily as it used to, and Wendy misses the snow. But she and Nick cherish their home, with its “peace and quiet, the gardens and the views”.

On June 10th, 2017, as part of Doors Open Clarington, The Grange hosts its biggest audience: hundreds of people from the area and far beyond will explore this storied home. 

Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick photo of Grandkids at mailbox

Wendy and Nick will warmly welcome everyone, happy that they took the risk, 31 years ago, of restoring a property that many would have rejected.

What an achievement.

~~

Photo Credits:

McLean House photo from The Estates of Sunnybrook

Photo 5 by Hamlin Grange

3rd, 6th & 11th  photos by Bernice Norton

9th, 10th and 12th photos by C. McSorley

14th photo by Marilyn Morawecz

Other photos provided by Nicholas Boothman

~~

To contact Doors Open Clarington:

Co- Chairperson Bernice Norton

905-623-9982

bernice_norton@hotmail.com

~~

Thanks to Doors Open Clarington and the Boothmans for research assistance.

Advertisements
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 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.” 

~~~

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

~~

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”.

~~~

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!

A Good Home, Country Homes, Country Living, Couples, Doors Open, Doors Open Clarington, Family, Family Moments, Farmhouse Kitchen, Farms, Flowering shrubs, Following your dreams, Great Places, Home Decor, Homes

Home at The Grange – Part 1

Would you leave a very comfortable house in the city – a mansion, even by Toronto standards – to live in a dilapidated 1800’s farmhouse in the middle of nowhere?

I, as you know, have lived in interesting places. But when former model and media manager Wendy Boothman told me what she did 31 years ago, even I was surprised. 

~~~

In 1986, the Boothman family decided to move to the country. They found a large log house in perfect move-in condition. Wendy’s husband and children loved it.

Blog Photo - Doors Open The Grange Wendy and Nick2 by Hamlin

But Wendy wasn’t sold. Without telling her family, she kept looking. She asked the realtor to show her a place in Kendal, a hamlet northeast of Toronto. They toured the property.

It was a hot August day and the poor realtor was in his suit and tie. I had no idea what 140 acres meant, so we ended up walking and walking.”

They also toured the house. Wendy said she loved the place.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The shocked realtor replied: “Wendy, it’s so dilapidated! Look at the holes in the floors! You have 5 children and a housekeeper. You can’t live here!”

Husband Nick saw it next. An international fashion photographer and audio-visual director with a Toronto studio,  he was stunned.

“Woman!” he said. “You’ve finally flipped. I refuse to set foot in that house!”

Blog Photo - Doors Open The Grange Barn Inside and Hay Hamlin

Wendy showed him the huge wooden barn with cathedral ceilings. Then she drove him up to the highest point of the property and showed him the view.  He was impressed… somewhat.

“We’ll renovate the house to what we want,” she reassured him. “We’ll design the garden to what we want. But most importantly, the children will be part of the designing. They’ll decide on the pool, their rooms, and so on.”

Sounded nice. In theory.

“If you think the children are going to want to leave a Toronto mansion to camp out  here while we do all the work required, you have another think coming,” Nick protested.

This was a daunting challenge.

~~~

Then Nick relented. “If you can sell the kids on this move,” he told her, “we’ll do it.”

One Sunday in August, Wendy and Nick took the kids on a long drive, turned off a country road and drove up to a hill with an impressive view of the area.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The children asked:

“What are we doing here?”

“We’re having a picnic in the country!” Wendy replied, smiling. “We’re moving to the country, so we may as well get used to it.”

After the picnic, the seven of them trooped through the fields and peered into the forest, excited.

Walking down the other side of the hill, the children spied a house and asked if they could look inside — not knowing their mother had a key.

They saw the tiny rooms, the old kitchen, the holes in the floors… the whole catastrophe. 

But when Wendy took them into the barn, they were awestruck.  

Blog Photo - doors Open The Grange Barn Ceiling Hamlin

Wendy seized the moment.

“We can move into the log house… or we can get this place and design it together. Your friends can come on weekends. We’ll have horses – you can ride. Can you imagine if we had a pool on the side of a hill and gardens?”

They returned home to Toronto, and started drawing up plans together.

~~~

They moved into the house on Halloween that October.  Wendy, who knew nothing about school buses, sent the 2 younger kids to the wrong school the first day.

That winter was full of challenges. For one thing, the house was freezing cold. 

Both parents still worked nearly 2 hours away in downtown Toronto — Nick at his studio, Wendy at her media management and design office.  Every morning, he drove the 3 older children to school in Toronto. Wendy picked them up every afternoon.

A year later, she decided to move her business to her home, creating one of the first “virtual teams” in Canada.

That eased a few challenges on the home-front. But renovating the house and landscaping the grounds would become a huge, 4-year project.

Photos by Hamlin Grange

A Good Home, Architecture, Architecture and Design, Author Cynthia Reyes, Bond Head Harbour, Canadian History, Canadian Homes, Canadian life, Country roads, Ebor House, Frederick Farncomb, Getting lost, Heritage nieghborhoods, Historic Bond Head, historic neighborhoods, Home Decor, Homes, Inspiration, Interior Design

PAVING PARADISE

 

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:

https://cynthiasreyes.com/2014/08/07/lost-without-a-clue/