Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Monday, November 22, 2010

Intriguing Odessa

Why did the sawmill, gristmill and woolen milling families who established this village choose the exotic name of a Russian city for their new settlement on the old stage route between Kingston and York? And why did Philip, scion of the Booth family, choose this refined and fashionable Regency style for the home built on the mill stream? Just look at this place! What a huge change from the stolid and symmetrical Georgians favoured by the captains of industry a generation ago! Like all architectural styles, Regency had a message to communicate about its owner. Regency style communicated "man of the world". Many Regency homes were built by military men who retired to the colonies after completing their service in exotic locales. They were influenced by the lifestyle they experienced in the tropics and sought (perhaps unrealistically) to live in the manner to which they had become accustomed in the Upper Canada of the 1820's - 1860's.

This beautifully preserved 1830's Regency cottage demonstrates the characteristic low profile, the hipped "cottage" roof, tall chimneys and awning-roofed verandahs with treillage. The importance of the front entrance was downplayed in favour of emphasis on the french windows that permitted an elegant flow from indoors to the picturesque gardens beside the brook. Lovely in the summer, but perhaps the style was not the most practical for the Canadian winters!


  1. And then after this, did Booth move north to begin his destruction of the timberlands around North Bay? In any case, the family had a flair for good living.

  2. I admit I wondered about the Booth family connection - may be the same folks - but I didn't take the time to do the research. Similarly, there was once a massive Rathbun house in Napanee. That's another lumber magnate familiar to northerners, isn't it? Time for another visit to the Algonquin Logging Museum to connect some dots.

  3. I'm not familiar with the Rathbun name, but that doesn't mean anything.