A Good Home, Doors Open, Serendipity

Serendipity: A Post-Script to The Grange Series

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Life is strange, isn’t it?

There my husband and I  were, a year ago, in a pub in Newcastle, Ontario.

We were meeting with our younger daughter’s future in-laws to plan the wedding. 

We were all nervous. The kids were totally in love and getting married.  But what if their parents disagreed — about everything?

Then my husband started telling jokes and everyone dissolved into laughter.  Loud, boisterous laughter. It broke the ice and everything went well.

There was a couple at the next table. Daughter and I went over to apologize for our loudness. 

The couple introduced themselves. The husband also gave me a book and introduced himself as the book’s author.

My daughter said: “That’s funny. My mom’s an author too!”

We all ended up talking. About books. And weddings. And marriages.

blog-photo-ebor-house-gates

Meanwhile, my blog series on Ebor House was a big hit at last year’s Doors Open Clarington tour.  The printed version was a fundraiser for Doors Open.

Blog Photo - Doors Open 2016 CR at Ebor House

This year,  I told co-chairs Marilyn Morawetz and Bernice Norton that I’d volunteer again for Doors Open Clarington: I’d write about another house. 

I had no idea it would be the home of someone I’d already met. 

Then life went nuts.  Over 3 months, Marilyn gently nudged me — repeatedly.

Finally, Hamlin decided to take a break from his busy schedule to help me out: he kindly agreed to drive us there and take the photos.

Blog Photo - Doors Open The Grange Sign and driveway Hamlin

When we arrived at The Grange, hosts and visitors warmly embraced and laughed together at the coincidence.

Nick and Wendy Boothman were the couple we met in the Newcastle pub!

It was a lovely visit.

Wendy drove us to see Screaming Hill.

Then Nick took Hamlin to photograph the barn and the grounds, while Wendy and I stayed in the house and talked.

It reminds me that one must leave room for the unexpected. And that the thing called serendipity is sometimes, strangely, within our gift.

Thanks to Hamlin Grange, Nick and Wendy Boothman, and Marilyn, Bernice and the Doors Open Clarington team. 

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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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To contact Doors Open Clarington:

Co- Chairperson Bernice Norton

905-623-9982

bernice_norton@hotmail.com

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