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/

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A Good Home, Architecture, Barns, Canadian life, Christmas, Christmas Decorations, Christmas in a Village, Heritage Home for Sale, Heritage Homes, Heritage nieghborhoods, Home, Interior Design, Ontario

One Last Christmas in a Beloved Home

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.

Blog Photo - Unionville Main Stree at Christmas -  Lorne Chapman Photo

The main street sparkles with decorations and, starting this Friday, Christmas activities.

Main Street photos by Lorne Chapman
Main Street pictures by Lorne Chapman

Locals and visitors alike will enjoy the Olde Tyme Candlelight Christmas Parade, skating on Toogood Pond, shopping in the stores and farmers’ market.

Karyn Boehmer photo
Karyn Boehmer photo

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. 

Karyn Boehmer photo
Karyn Boehmer photo

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.

Karyn Boehmer Photo
Karyn Boehmer Photo

Blog Photo - Stiver House L and Charlie

Blog Photo - Stiver Staircase

Blog Photo - Stiver Christmas Decor CU

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.

Blog Photo - Stiver House Family Room Fireplace, Painting and Chair

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.” 

Photo by Karyn Boehmer
Karyn Boehmer Photo

Three children have grown to adulthood here. 

Blog Photo - Stiver House Christmas Mat

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.

Blog Photo - Stiver House Kitchen Area 1

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. 

Blog Photo - Stiver House Chair in Conservatory

Blog Photo - Stiver House Conservatory Wideshot

Karyn Boehmer Photo
This photo and the two below are by Karyn Boehmer

Karyn Boehmer Photo

Blog Photo - Stiver Staircase

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.

Blog Photo - Stiver House Mural Poppies and Iris

Blog Photo - Stiver Hosue Mural2

Blog Photo - Stiver House Unionville Mural1

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.

Blog Photo - Stiver House Entry and Courtyard

blog photo - stiver house christmas urn

blog photo - stiver house window box

**

Christmas decorations by Jan Corbett.

Thanks to Karyn Boehmer, Lorne Chapman and the Unionville BIA for their images.

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Loving and Leaving Ebor House – Pt. 6 – Conclusion

Ron Coffin did such a great job restoring Ebor House that he was honoured for it.

Blog Photo - Ebor House MBedroom other view

He received the Newcastle Village and District Historical Society’s Preservation Award in 2011.
Blog Photo - Ebor House Master Bedroom

He also opened the house to the community on a recent architectural conservancy day and 600 visitors came.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Library

A pianist played beautiful music.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Living room reverse

The visitors toured the grand old house, admiring the furnishings and paintings, old and new.

Painting by George Forgie
Painting by George Forgie

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!”

Blog Photo - Ebor House back lawn

**

As for me?

It started when I got lost a few weeks ago and saw this house.

I wanted to know more.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Front 2

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.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Entrance and Stairs

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.

Blog Photo - Bond Head main street

**

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.

A Good Home, Decorating skills, Domestic Divas, Flower Arranging, Flowers, Gardening, Gardens, Interior Design

Inferior Design — A Natural Talent

If I call to invite close relatives to supper, their reply goes like this:

“Oh! How nice…”

Blog Photo - Hostas and Clematis

A long pause follows.

Blog Photo - flowers in glass vase mixed

Then:

“Er… Who’s cooking?”

So — naturally — I reply: You have nothing to fear. Husband is cooking.”

Joyful sounds erupt from the telephone.

Blog Photo - flowers in Brown Vase closer

Me, take offense? No way.

Blog Photo - Hostas and wieglia

I’m the untalented one in a family of creatively gifted domestic divas and I know it.

My mother, sisters, cousins and daughters  — all are fabulous cooks and bakers.

All were born knowing how to arrange a room artfully.

Clothes and hair? Fabulously stylish. Floral arrangements? To sigh for.

Blog Photo - Flowers in vase nice

And then there’s me. I have to work really, really hard at all these things – with surprisingly strange results.

An expert at inferior design, is what I am.

Blog Photo - flowers with alium closer

My greatest talent was in designing and planting our gardens.  Really nice gardens — if you like the lush, exuberant kind.  There, I seem to know instinctively what flowers and colours go together.

But, these days, I mostly pick the flowers, not plant them.

So — naturally — I recently decided to try floral arranging.

You may remember that I once ruined a very simple Christmas arrangement.

But hope springs eternal.

So — naturally — I decided to channel my inner Christiane, and Karen B. – two wonderfully creative, flower-loving women.  I love their blogs.

I stuck some flowers in a vase. Peonies and Solomon’s seal.

Blog Photo - Peonies and Solomon's Seal

“Beautiful”, said my sister.

Shocking.

So — naturally — the next arrangement was — hmmm…..

Blog Photo - Peonies in tall vase

Friends Lydia and her daughter Sarah kindly gave me a book on floral arranging.

The designs seemed so simple that only an idiot could fail to grasp them.

So — naturally — I failed to grasp them.

I’ve been hiding from Lydia and Sarah ever since.

Blog Photo - flowers white daisies in vase

Along comes my daughter, to shore up my confidence.

I’ll cut the flowers, we agree.  She’ll take the lead on arranging them in vases.

They were all very pretty.

So — naturally —  I went and stuck allium heads into one of them and ruined her creation. (See the sixth photo from the top.)

But all she said was: Nice, Mom.

Encouraged, I stuck another allium head  into a few flowers in a thin vase.

Blog Photo - Hostas in tall vase

And all of that explains why this post is full of flowers in vases.

The nice ones are my daughter’s.

In case you were wondering.

**

Dedicated to my creative relatives, and Lydia and Sarah. And to creative divas Christiane and Karen B.