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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!

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EVERYDAY GLORY – Part 2

*PHOTOS BY HAMLIN GRANGE*

Before the car accident, I was busy leading the big projects, travelling here and there.  Running around trying to change the world can make a person miss the beauty of “ordinary” things.

Injuries and pain are indescribably worse.   You finally have time to see, but barely have the energy to look.

But – oh – it’s worth the effort!

Blog Photo - Verandah Path

To  see one’s surroundings with new and grateful eyes.  

To take joy in the small moments.

To be open to small patches of everyday glory. 

"Snow Cones" on Spruce Branch - Photo by Hamlin Grange
“Snow Cones” on Spruce Branch

Snow on evergreens. The first snow makes the garden beautiful, day and night.

The late sun. Late afternoon sunlight shining on wood floors is magical. And when the late sun hits the wavy glass sidelights in the front door of our old farmhouse, it’s wondrous.

Sunshine on Hardwood

My husband’s truant socks. He has tons of single socks and we spend time searching for their matches.I used to get irritated by this.  Or by newspapers strewn across the breakfast table. (Or his overlooking my small attempts to ‘cheer up’ our house.)

Now, I call them “signs of life”.  And I give thanks for having someone kind, funny and loving to share my everyday life with. (And I try to assemble the newspapers without muttering.)

Freshly washed sheets.  There’s luxury in the smell and feel of freshly washed cotton sheets although they’ve been used and washed many times.

Canadian Wool Blanket

The old wool blanket. “Canadiana”, for sure, it would be worth something, unstained. Do I care about the stain? No.  I love this blanket for its brilliant stripes – and for having survived decades of use.

Blooming Amaryllis. Bought for 6 bucks,  it re-blooms (big red blooms) on long stalks each winter. ‘Nuff said.

Our family’s big mixing bowl.  Many apple pies have been mixed up in that beautiful old bowl.

Blog Photo - Kitchen Pies on Table

My daughter’s dogs.  Sometimes, just the sight of them gladdens my heart. One brownish-black, one white, they’re both tiny dogs with personalities of their own. As I write, they’re stretched out beside me,  fast asleep.

Julius and Dawson Fast Asleep
The Pooches

Slowing down  by choice is great. Being forced to do so is awful.

But in the spirit of lighting a candle and finding my way out of darkness, I’ve been focusing on positives.

And keeping both eyes open for the everyday kind of glory.

**

This post is dedicated to the caring staff at the pain management centre of Toronto Rehabilitation Hospital. One of the techniques they teach their patients is mindfulness.

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Wonders Never Cease

Every so often, I wish I had a well-behaved garden.

The kind where everything does what I want, when I want.

Where flowers don’t stray into lawns and lawns don’t stray into flowerbeds, and the strong wind didn’t break one of the arches on the arbour my dear husband so carefully built.

Blog Photo - Garden Circle

But this I know:

Real gardens offer up surprises each week, each day and sometimes, each hour.

Blog Photo - Hollyhock Mutant

Like flowers blooming in unexpected colours.

Blog Photo - Peony Rust

And interesting visitors.

Like this large bird in the apple tree.

Blog Photo - Bird in tree

And wild rabbits.

Blog Photo - Rabbit cleans self

Cleaning themselves without a care in the world.

Blog Photo - Bird Scratches self

Like this mother duck, with her ducklings.

Blog Photo - Duck Family

She must have squeezed herself under the fence.

Blog Photo - Ant and Moth

This ant, dragging a dead moth many times its size. It took the moth way across the verandah.

Blog Photo - Farmhouse Doorway

This beet, expected to be dark red, is somehow orange.

Blog Photo - Orange Beets

A single squash. It’s from a vine that strayed from our neighbours’ squash plantation.

Blog Photo - Squash on our side of fence

“It’s yours”, he says. The thing will grow to almost half my height. No kidding.

Blog Photo - Squash 2

These onions, because they delight and surprise me each late summer.

Blog Photo - Onions

And the garlic, just because the sight of them when newly harvested always surprises me.

Blog Photo - Garlic 2

The sight of our daughter’s little doggie, coming around the corner at full speed. Well, sort of.

Blog Photo - Doggie Runs

And this shadow “selfie”, which I didn’t know was there till I downloaded it and nearly jumped in surprise.

Blog Photo - Shadow takes photo

Gardens: places of surprise and discovery.

**

Dedicated to all gardeners, everywhere.

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A Man in Love With a House – Pt. 2 in the Ebor House Series

The moment Ron Coffin saw Ebor House,  he was smitten.

Blog Photo - Ebor House

“It was for sale for a couple of years and a friend said I should see it. I saw it and said, ‘My God!’ I fell absolutely in love with it.”

Blog Photo - Ebor House Entrance

Never mind the weed-choked acreage surrounding the grand old house and barn.

Blog Photo - Ebor House overgrown lawn

And the nearly derelict rooms inside.

Blog Photo - Ebor House derelict Room 1

The cobwebs hanging from the ceiling and spaces crammed with old contents.

The stuffy, old-house smell.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Derelict Room 3

Ron was a man in love.

**

That was 8 years ago.

Today it’s a remarkably beautiful place.

I first saw Ebor House recently, and was so impressed, I asked Ron to share his house’s story. Days later, we sat in his refurbished kitchen, sipping our coffee as Ron reflected on his decision to restore the property.

“What possessed you — to take on such a daunting task?” I asked.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Kitchen and side door

“In life there are things you have to do. Some people have to climb Everest. I had to do this.”

Blog Photo - Ebor House Ron Smiling

Ron, a single parent, has four children and a dog. He also ran his own business. But he had “a huge interest in Canada’s architectural heritage and how it fits into its time” and he loved both the house and its location in historic Bond Head in Newcastle, Ontario.

“It’s like being in another world here. You even have to go through a series of entrances to get to this home. The first entrance is a bridge that you have to go under when you leave the highway. Then there are the gates to the property. Then there are 2 entry doors before you can come into the house.”

Blog Photo - Ebor House Gates

Ron had a vision of the house at its best.

He decided to do some of the restoration work by himself.

“I made the common mistake of plastering the walls and painting, then realized the roof was leaking”, he said. “The house also needed all new plumbing, heating and wiring. So I had to rip out some of that work and start again.”

Luckily, the seller still had the architectural drawings from 1867,  the year Canada became a nation. (Construction started in 1868 and Ebor House was completed in 18 months.)  Those drawings convinced Ron that he was on the right track.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Dining Room full

Some chandeliers and furniture  – such as this Jacques & Hay sideboard on the right – were in the house in 1869. Ron bought other furnishings – including lighting, paintings, mirrors, and other furniture — after meticulous research.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Green Room with portait and walls and furniture

Sometimes he felt like a detective trying to solve a mystery.

Blog Photo - Ebor House Living Room

The house and grounds provided clues.

The pantry doors were found in the barn. Old pennies were found under the lawn.  The pennies, found together,  likely fell from someone’s pocket during a picnic, Ron thinks.

Blog Photo - Ebor House back lawn

Blog Photo - Ebor House Canadian penny 1858

The more Ron learned, the better he understood how people lived in the late 1800’s and early 20th century.

Blog Photo - Ebor House entrance inside

“One thing I learned was how the double front doors were used. On days when the family was receiving guests, they’d open the outer door, while the inside door was closed. That would signal that visitors were welcome.”

He also became deeply interested in the Farncombs, who built the house and lived here for more than 130 years. Theirs was a remarkable story of great success and happiness, as well as heartbreaking tragedy.

**Watch for Part 3: The Farncombs.