Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Monday, April 8, 2019

An Appetite for History

Okay, there's more to this photo than lunch. I've been enjoying revisiting (online) dear friends in Abbotsford this week, thanks to photos I took when we were in town in April 2017. Turns out Tom especially is an old-house nut, so it was inevitable that we spend a day walking (and lunching) in historic Clayburn Village.

The cafe we're enjoying is at the Clayburn Village General Store, a delight of a place featuring good desserts, historical displays and miles of jars of olde-timey penny candy.

What endears me to the store is that it's living history, the centre of an historic village which continues full of life in a new iteration as a vibrant heritage conservation area. There's a  plan  for that.

From the Clayburn Village website I learned that the village was the first company town in B.C., built by Charles Maclure, son of John, local pioneer and Royal Engineer. The village snuggles under the edge of Sumas Mountain near Abbotsford, where it's stood since 1905 when a motherlode of  good clay for brick manufacturing was discovered.

The Clayburn Village website is another motherlode, rich with historic photographs.

Today's Clayburn village consists of the remaining half of the cottages built for brick-plant workers, the general store (this one), a 1912 church and a 1907 school, now community centre. Both are on Canada's Historic Places roll - the school here, the church at this link - should you want to read more.

The walk around was the most astounding experience. The feeling of an old village persists; a bit English village with lovely gardens and picket fences. It must be a grand spot to live. If a bit damp - you can detect moss on the store's walls. There's a highly recommended BandB if you want to try it out.

That resonance I always seek was there...imagine a field once filled as far as the eye could see with factory buildings, disappeared and replaced by grass and trees - the work of a century in fecund British Columbia coastal plains. 
a photo on the General Store wall - what used to stand on the grassy field
what remains of the Clayburn brick factory

thanks to
This historic photo shows the store with neighbouring cottages. Workmanlike, not the charming little spot we visited.

Most of the cottages are built of brick. Most were designed by Sam Maclure,  well-known architect of dozens of craftsman beauties in Victoria (there's another post coming sometime...)

Upon close inspection the bricks on several houses revealed a story. They were mill rejects - irregular shapes, some burnt, others with lumpy imperfections - called clinker bricks.

But the houses are no less charming (indeed, are more intriguing) as a result. Imagine the lives lived here.

Accountant's house

Plant manager's house

If any of these catches your eye, you can read more individual house stories on the website
renovated schoolhouse

34844 Clayburn Road, the former post office

Foreman's cottage

Start at the church, and have a wander thanks to the folks at Streetview. They had a sunnier day, but we had more fun. Thanks for the tour, Tom and Meg!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Abby Seeing You

I love it when someone who reads the blog gets in touch with a story, or relates a connection to something I have written.

That happened this week. I had written about this handsome 1920 Craftsman Bungalow. Its name is Trethewey, and it's an Abbotsford B.C. Heritage Site. Almost immediately, friends who live in Abbotsford got in touch, and we reminisced about our visit there 2 years ago. And made plans for a return. The friends call their adopted home town Abby.

I contacted the Trethewey House Heritage website to let them know I'd been talking about them behind their back, and was delighted to get an email response. They commented on  my observation that the design was almost pattern-book Craftsman Bungalow, but having read that the builder-owner was a lumber baron, I knew that he wouldn't have availed himself of a mail-order kit, with all the wood components, joists, studwork and lumber. Turns out I was half right! Mr. Joseph Ogle Tretheway had indeed "purchased the blueprint from a Sears and Roebuck catalogue."

I did a search for 1915-1920 Sears Roebuck home plans, and the closest I could come up with, among the Edwardian Foursquares, 'olde English' styles and Cape Cods was the 'The Bandon." Maybe the good folks in Abby can provide more insights?

And the good folks at Trethewey invited us to tour on our return. Which we will endeavour to do. 2021.