Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Friday, September 16, 2016

Cottage Lives

 The most recent e-edition of The Beacon,  the newsletter of the outstandingly productive Friends of Presqu'ile Provincial Park, just landed in my inbox.

In addition to all the volunteer activity accounts, details of the outstanding Natural History Education Programs at the park (think endangered Piping Plovers) and plans for their 25th annual Christmas at Presqu'ile Arts and Crafts Show (where they work super hard to raise funds so they can continue their fine work) the issue honoured long-time volunteer Joan Selwood.

The account of Joan's many contributions to the Friends mentioned her research on four historic cottages in the park. A quick trip to the website and I was able to read the full story of the families who built and loved the four cottages, now absorbed into the park infrastructure. Back in 2011 I mused about their provenance. For the full story, read Joan's research in the history pages of their fine website.

 For just a taste, read on.

 The impressive stone at the top of the post, the one with the Quebecois accent, was built in 1942-44 as the summer home of Jack and Luta Wilson, and their four children. It was purchased by the park in 1956, and has been used as staff residences in recent years.

The low pitched roof and wide windows of 'Edmerel', built between 1942-44   Edward and Merele (Farrell) Cousins now houses Presqu'ile's Nature Centre.

Joan's account reveals that the two families were life-long friends. Ironically, both wives died at their lovely cottages, Luta in 1944 and Merele in 1954.

 I noted during our May visit that the signage of this little brown cottage has been changed to Denson Clarke cottage. "Rossmore" was built by Dr. Harold Clarke  about 1934. Dr. Clarke maintained a practice in Brighton from 1920 to 1948.

 Some years after Dr. Clarke's death, his widow Kay married Lester Denson; she retained a life lease on the cottage after the park took over private properties in 1956. The cottage reverted to the park in 1985. The name change reflects the man who had it built, of BC fir; some of the labour being bartered for medical services.

Last year, the cottage became a guest rental, a growing trend in Provincial Parks. Joan mentions original fittings in the cottage, including the kitchen sink!

This handsome split field-stone cottage, elusive amidst evergreens,  was built in 1944 for Dr. William John Cruise and wife Eleanor. It was sold to the park in 1958.