Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Keep the Home Fires Burning... on and on

Cook's Tavern (c.1822)
A prowl through my Upper Canada Village photos has yielded some other great examples of fireplaces and mantels - and parlour stoves.

I wonder how authentic the rebuilding of the fireplaces was (for of course, I suspect little of the masonry accompanied the relocated Lost Villages houses on their trip to Upper Canada Village.) I'm reading about bricklayer John Taylor building a bee-hive bakeoven in the traditional style, so I am hopeful.  Having Stokes and Minhinnick in charge inspires a not inconsiderable degree of confidence.

 double box stove in the parlour

Mantels are eminently more portable, as most antique dealers - and folks who have purchased a plundered older home- know.

Incidentally, a comment below from occasional visitors to the blog who have their own very interesting old house story to tell, included a link to Howell Harris' very technical and beautiful blog about old stoves. This link takes you to an astonishing post with illustrations of some wonderful examples of the stove designer's and maker's art. In case you don't get as far as the comments, I've included both links here - both very worthy ways to spend an hour.

the taproom fireplace

and the hardworking open hearth firplace in the kitchen
I've pulled Peter John Stokes' A Village Arising and Jeanne Minhinnick's At Home in Upper Canada from the shelf, to aid in some research. For the moment, I'll just post the following photos from UCV (for of course, that place makes it relatively easy to step inside and inspect the mantel detail or stove workings- which is a bit frowned upon by owners of  private homes.)
decorative fireplace deferring to the box stove

below (well behind), the workhorse Rumford with bakeoven

the Loyalist Georgian Willard's hotel (  ) 

panelled pilasters and centrepiece of the neoclassical mantel

fluted pilasters on a fine tall mantel

Greek Revival 'Physician's House' (1840's Cook home) 

with its two panel doors, and palour stove

Loucks homestead (1850's)

...with beehive bakeoven and cast iron cookstove
in the summer kitchen

UCV's many preserved log houses all have cooking fireplaces
a fireplace wall with panelled cupboards, bake oven door
open hearth cooking on a 30 degree C. afternoon
a fine Georgian mantel above an open hearth stone-built fireplace


  1. You may find some of Howell Harris's research on early North American stoves of interest:
    I believe he is writing a book on the subject, and includes some interesting Canadian examples on his blog.

  2. Oh what an absolute treasure that blog is! Thanks for the link; I shall spend many happy hours in front of Howell Harris' fire.

  3. Not sure if you´re familiar w/ Uniacke Estate, a mansion just outside of Halifax that was built 1813-15. The building and its date of construction are important since it was probably a transformative time wrt heating and cooking. There is a massive hearth in the basement, but just as interesting are the 8 stoves that I believe date from the very beginnings of the house. here´s a pic of one in the front hallway:

  4. We camped near Uniacke Estate when we visited N.S. a few years back, but time didn't allow for a visit. The flickr link takes me to Ireland, I think, but I did search some photos of the Estate - didn't get a good look at the 8 stoves unfortunately.

  5. Amazing place. If you ever go back to that area, please do yourself a favour and check it out. Everything in the house is from 1815, including almost all furniture, stoves, etc... What piqued my interest here was something you said about stoves becoming commonplace sooner than most people thought. Indeed, I was surprised to see the stoves from Uniacke Estate dating from such an early time.