Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Redner's ville

Methodist Manse 1861
A few years ago, I maintained a blog named In Search of Al Purdy. On behalf of the Al Purdy A-frame Association, I was compiling a list of all the local place names found in Purdy's work, with the goal of  someday developing a literary tour of the area. Although the blog is long dormant, I want to link you with this post about Rednersville; Al's poetry and its power to evoke the historical village remain.

If you've followed the link, that's really all I have to say.But then...

 I was in Rednersville a week ago, interviewing a most interesting couple who have recreated one of the village's most historic stone homes. While I was there, I wandered around the village, and took a few photos to refresh my memory. The Settler's Dream features a great account of the village history, and describes a number of the significant homes. Thought I'd share a bit.
Darling is not a word I use often, but the tiny brick  former Methodist Manse qualifies. According to Stokes et al, it was built in 1861. A view from the kitchen tail, past the owner's orchids and down the slope to the bayshore, takes the fortunate visitor back to the 'Barley Days' of the 1880s, when wagonloads of grain lined the roads, awaiting offloading at the flourishing Redner wharves. The little stucco over stone next door, with its fine doorcase...ditto. Darling. The yellow house has had work done, but still has dignity. I wonder if it might be the early frame store in the B.Napier Simpson photo in The Settler's Dream. The low pitch of the roof looks similar; shame the astonishing 15x15 sash shop windows are long gone.

I like the neighbouring gable front house with the flanking single storey wings suggesting temple form. Its best features are the heavy Greek Revival mouldings around the windows, along the cornice and the eaves returns are the best feature. Gable end forward, in the Greek revival manner. Nice the way the grey-clad walls work with the white mouldings.

This crisply clad board and batten house is a delight for the colour scheme; its owners have created a sweet country cottage. I suspect it's an early house also. Sweet and simple.

utterly charming group mailboxes

Not surprisingly, with a name like Rednersville, the village has some passing acquaintance with the pioneer UEL Redner family. They were "the guiding entrepreneurial force that determined the growth of the village" according to Stokes and Cruikshank (The Settler's Dream 1984.) By the 1870s the self-sufficient village had peaked at 200 souls.

This wonderfully evocative stone country store sits on a lot sold to James Redner in 1851. For years it was called "the oldest general store in Ontario." Sadly, this village landmark is now closed. But the verandah still looks like the perfect spot for an ice-cream.

Around 1865 the stone facade was damaged in a fire, and replaced with brick, and those lovely arched windows. It's waiting for its renaissance.

This exquisite stone house was built by James Redner, wharfinger, farmer, merchant, grain dealer, around 1830. Elegant details like the casement windows and the chinoiserie glazing in the fine doorcase set it apart. It is set on a rise overlooking the shore where Redner's fortunes were made.
The rural Gothic low-pitched roofed Methodist church (1849) is said to be built of limestone pulled from the escarpment across the road. I wrote about the building, now home to an artist/impresario, in a past issue of County and Quinte Living.


  1. Hi Lindi. I love your blog, though I haven't commented before. The Redner House has inspired this. I've been puzzled by its (replacement) porch. It looks strongly Edwardian to me with those Arts & Craftsy tapered square columns that you see on new houses going up around the County. And that complicated roof on it. It strikes me as a shame, because care has obviously been taken otherwise and money spent. Is the porch as wrong as I think it is?

  2. Thanks so much for reading and commenting! Yes, the Redner portico is part of a restoration/recreation/expansion done by the current owners. Agree it's similar in flavour to new builders' favourite Edwardian/Craftsman bungalow inspired fusion. Don't know what was there (if anything) when they came five years or so ago. There are photos in The Settler's Dream showing no portico (1984) and a wonderful arcaded verandah across the front and west sides(1860). As the front gable with round headed window was added later, the house at that time had a real Regency feel.

  3. Isn't that old verandah beautiful. A verandah of some sort was obviously there, or at least across the front, from the start (nailers across the front all still visible). But no going back to that, I suppose, and it wouldn't be the same anyway with the addition of the front gable above it. I would have wished for far slimmer columns and less heavy-looking roof on the new portico (yes, better word), but it's nice to see the house well cared for. Thanks, Lindi. Keep up the wonderful work.