Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Nothing is Forever

Nothing is forever...with Blogger. I am feeling especially curmudgeonly this weekend. Blogger is broken and my most recent posts and photos have disappeared. Reading the commentary on the Help forums has been interesting - curmudgeonly is definitely one of the calmer responses to this mini-catastrophe. So much timeless prose...lost. Maybe forever. Below the radar on the scope of the disasters facing our world. I know. Stuff happens. Get over it.

But I hate doing things twice. I have always liked moving on. So, several conversations with some very fine folk whom I've met lately - the owner of a unique stone house near Myrtle, and several citizens of the truly lovely Glen Williams - will have to wait 'til I'm motivated to repeat myself. And who knows, maybe Blogger will find my stuff and put it back where they found it.

L. John Calder House, 1886, near Whitby
R. The Copper Kettle pub, 1825 general store, Glen Williams

Friday, May 6, 2011

Che Bella Cosa

Simple things amaze me. Without regret I have let the technological revolution stampede past me, probably while I was looking at something nineteenth century growing from a rough-hewn stone foundation. I have readily eschewed PDA's, Blackberries, iPads, MP3 players, GPS, texting, tweeting, and doubtless, dozens of other life-saving electronic inventions. Mind you, I must admit I don't know how I survived before that remedy for the terminally curious, Google!

The simple thing that amazes me is our scanner. Not only do I love the power of house-hold photocopying, but it is a sheer joy to be able to translate old photos into digitally accessible images for admiring and sharing. Last week, during a bout of the lurgies, I sat in my bathrobe (I know, TMI) and scanned all the important (ie. architectural) photos from our 1995 Italy trip. It's great to be able to see these images screen-size, to enhance or eliminate details depending on their importance to my quest.

It's also super to be able to check on the names, dates etc. for buildings which my guide-books did not note, or which the photographer forgot to record. Sharing some favourite images here. Another neat by-product of my time over a glowing scanner. As Martha would say, "Che bella cosa".

Sunday, May 1, 2011

McKendry's McKingston

The planets were in alignment last Saturday. The perfect combination of sunny warm weather falling on a committment-free Saturday led to several enjoyable hours of traipsing the old town's daffodilly residential streets, admiring her lovely heritage homes, and bringing home 137 photos of great buildings with history, to enjoy, research and study.

We wandered through the long ago absorbed village of Portsmouth with its higgledy-piggeldy streets, inviting public park and community flowerbeds. Had a nice chat with a Bernese Mountain dog and her most gracious human (one of the community gardeners), whose neighbour was the brick Georgian featured here - one of the oldest in the village. Learned that these houses were once at waterside, the park appearing and King Street West developing as the bay and marsh were progressively filled in. We wandered up the driveway, as BMD was expected there anyway for her customary treat, and had a look at the plaque (which my telephoto had already sussed for me) - 1819, pretty good for Ontario. And in brick too. And totally restored, with careful ongoing maintenance. Special seat on the bus for those folks!

Another delight was to return home to find an account of this home in Jennifer McKendry's fine book With our Past Before Us about c19 architecture in the Kingston area (UofT Press 1995). According to her introduction, this book is one of the first to celebrate Kingston's early buildings and architects since Margaret Angus' Old Stones of Kingston (1966 & 89). McKendry has produced an impressive list of work (she has a special spot for picturesque old cemeteries, and is a great photographer), and I turn to her books often when researching Kingston buildings. I have still not determined how active and effective local historical societies are in that area - I would expect they would be well established with a base of scholarship to draw on, and some mighty impressive buildings to preserve.

McKendry records that this house was built in 1819 by James Gardiner, a farmer with 50 acres of crop land. His house was built tight against the original road that followed the shoreline of Hatter's Bay, and he eschewed a more picturesque location in favour of direct access to water, the transportation route for his market-bound crops.

Nice day, nice house, nice to know :-)