Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Monday, July 27, 2015

Porch Fest

We're just back from a week of camping at Charleston Lake Provincial Park; had occasion to go to town a few times. "Town" in that part of the world is Lansdowne, about 10 km from the park. Their historic fair was in full swing as we drove through on our way north to the park. Tempted? Frankly no, but it seems everyone else was. Lansdowne has a great little supermarket, friendly post office staff, reliable free Wi-Fi in the library parking lot (important when one is tracking some important family news) and some really interesting architecture.
road-widening holdout
  Now, I missed one of the best parts of the town. Came about 20 years too late. I chatted with a dear elderly couple sitting on their porch where the sidewalk ends. Pop waved at passersby, Ma counted the train cars on the nearby CP line down the street ("150 cars on that last one!" she announced with pride.)
The Beatty house - female medical missionary's home
Pop recalled with sorrow the removal of the rows of mature shade trees which once lined the street, County road 3 heading up the hill to the town's confusing main intersection (now I know how newcomers to Picton's famed 'town hill' feel)  Road widening. Progress. For travellers like us. Felt complicit in the tragedy.

The most intriguing feature of the town is its porches. Not the welcoming 'come on up and set a spell' front verandah kind. Lansdown has those, but it also has a proliferation of second storey porches; they appear on residential and commercial buildings, adapted to Edwardian or ordinary front gable buildings.

Can't quite figure out their origin; they really give the village a unique character. Would I be correct in thinking French influence? Checked online and came across this page on Shannon Kyle's Ontario Architecture site. Remain convinced the Ottawa River French influence trickled down to the area; with a lot of help from vernacular builders over time.

A few bits of Lansdowne history exist online: it started along highway 2, but picked up its buildings and moved a mile north when the Grand Trunk Railway came through in 1856. There is a walking tour online (good on ya, folks.)

One thing I know for sure. Most of these buildings are over 90 years old, because Pop is
90-something and he can personally vouch for them.

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