Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hopelessly Devoted

Penstowe - 1890 Queen Anne Revival

I spent three hours solo in beautiful Port Hope yesterday, enjoying an English mist, wandering up and down astonishingly leafy streets (not just parks, wild ravines! not just slopes but ambitious hills!), revelling in beautifully kept heritage homes and the heady scent of gardens and street plantings (ivory silk Japanese tree lilacs everywhere!), and time-travelling.

The town's Georgian main street is legendary; each time I go there I see more to love. Admittedly, I am perhaps not the type they want, as I while away my hours admiring building features, and how they have been preserved, looking above and beyond the fronts of beautiful shops, spending time, not money. Fortunately, many others come for the ambiance of a finely preserved town, and invest in luxury B&B accommodation, or exquisite fare, art, culture and stuff. Me, I'm too excited to eat or sleep.

175 Dorset Street West (c.1874- with Beaux Arts portico 1900)

Bank of Upper Canada (1857) an Italianate fortress


  1. Its often better to spend time rather than money. I spent some today at MacPherson House and Fairfield House, then I went to Bath and wandered the town for a spell. Waaaay too much to talk about in a few sentences, but lets just say that I had a blast.

    Not sure how familiar you are w/ Fairfield House, but up on the second floor, in a room where military paraphernalia is, there was a architect's rendering of the house that I thought was amazing.....I told the tour guide that they should copy those posters and sell them to help raise funds for the house. Anyways, a very cool day.....

  2. Love Fairfield-Gutzeit House in Bath...I can just see the image you're talking about...those three spots all in one day? An amazing one, to be sure!

  3. My grammar is atrocious. Anyways, so much to talk about, hard to convey in a few words....The F-G House in Bath was closed, though that would be in line with my previous 5 or 6 visits there. Never seems to be open !! I was always surprised by how close that house is to the could kick a stone off the veranda, and into the lake.

    Ron Tasker's(?)house (saw his name on the inside of a window)was completely stripped of clapboard, and there seemed to be much work still being done. Seems like a big job. The roofline dentith(?) was half gone (being replaced ?), and the foundation on the east side was being redone by the look of it. Etc... I laughed when I saw the house-date sign on the front of the house changed from 1819 to 1816.

    Ya, that architect's rendering (poster) at Fairfield H. jumped right out at me, as soon as I saw it. Had the date "1790" on it. They could copy it as a poster and sell it online or in the house. Just an idea. The house was a blast - I think I bored the poor guide with endless discussion about previous house experiences !! I was blown away by how rough the house is - which was a boon for my inquisitive mind, since I love seeing how old buildings like that are/were constructed. The MacPherson H., by comparison, was far more polished.

    Also, as I continue to read more about the inventory of older buildings of eastern Ontario, I'm struck by how many of the Loyalists came from Vt.. As I mentioned to the tour guide at Fairfield H., the Loyalists must have gone where it was geographically convenient for them... thus many of them from Mass. and Conn. ended up in the Maritimes.

  4. Lots of regional concentrations. Disbanded military units would have ended up in the same area of grants, and families and former neighbours would have wanted to stick close for support. There's a concentration of Loyalist families from Duchess Co. NY (where my mother's line hail from) in PEC.
    Glad to get an update on the Ham house, meant to ask.

  5. Well, well, well. The things you read ! You are correct about the concentrations, and how those in eastern Ont. were often from NY & Vt.. As it pertains to Port Hope, I just read that the oldest house there, the Elias Smith H. (c.1797-1800) was built by the Loyalist Elias family who was also from NY. The Heritage Port Hope website claims that it was in fact Elias' son Peter who built the house in 1797:

    This other website claims that of all Elias' kids, only Peter was born in Canada (all the rest in NY). And Peter was born in Halifax !! So the oldest house built between Toronto and Belleville was built by a Bluenoser ! Is there no end to it ?

  6. BTW, my comment should have read the Elias SMITH family, not Elias family. Also note in the 2nd link provided that there was much pressure at the time to name the new settlement Toronto, rather than Port Hope (I never knew that).