The house that the Elliott family built back in the late 1850’s fell into the right hands nearly 130 years later.
It’s a good thing it did.
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.
But the Boothmans had the vision, patience — and resources needed — to bring the property to new life, without destroying its character.
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)
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.
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.
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.
Much has changed in 31 years.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Thanks to Doors Open Clarington and the Boothmans for research assistance.