Ottawa Journal 1971–Photo from the Wanda Morrison- Joan Kehoe Collection
I have written many stories about my home the Morphy Cram house, called Springside Hall in Carleton Place on several occasions. Jennifer, from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Museum, has often wondered why there is very little information or photos of the house throughout the years. Imagine my surprise when yesterday going through a scrapbook lent to me by Wanda Morrison that there was an article about Springside Hall in 1971.
To some of you that don’t know, the facade of my home was once the opening background picture to famed puppeteer’s Noreen Young’s CBC children’s television program called ‘Hi Diddle Day‘. When we bought the home in 1981 the interior of the house had been stripped right down to the brass push button light switches, but the outside still had the red roof shingles and window shutters which we later changed.
I had been told it was William Morphy, son of the founder of Morphy’s Falls (Carleton Place) in 1860 who built the house, while this article says another son, Edmond Morphy built it. The only other records I had is that it was bought in 1905 by former Carleton Place mayor Albert E. Cram and then occupied by the Raeburns. But now I know the house also was once a residence to the Johnson and Merrick families.
During the fire of 1995 we changed the position of the dining room doorway and the back staircase, but imagine my surprise to find out that somewhere through the years the interior had also been changed.
Front Staircase- photo by Linda Seccaspina
Most of the main floor woodwork, which I fought to be restored after the fire, is quarter-cut oak, which indicates a turn of the century change from the simple upstairs woodwork. When interviewed, Mr. and Mrs. Raeburn had lived in the house for 32 out of the total 40 years they lived in my home. They recalled that the front staircase had been changed early on. The elaborate gilted curtain rod that once hung in the dining room from Mrs. Raeburn’s family home, the Finlayson House in Clayton, is no longer there, but there still remains one plain but original rod over the french doors that open to the study.
It mentions the ell (0ver the kitchen wing) having three bedrooms which were part of the servants quarters, as it connected to the back staircase. But in reality when we moved there there were only two, so where was the third bedroom? We know that the newel post and stair rails on the back staircase are from the 1860s, as when we changed the back staircase we reused the original wood.
Photo by Linda Seccaspina-Last year Blair White gave me a folk art oil painting that George Raeburn did of his home The Morphy Cram House/ Hi Diddle Day home. He had given it to Blair a good many years ago. When I die I want it to go back to the White family and have Blair’s son Ben look after it until he can pass it on. I met May Raeburn once and also met her son Burt when she passed on.
The property that was once a whole city block is now an acre in total, and the raspberry bushes that grew wild all over at the back of the house made way to a residence in the 60s when the Raeburn’s sold part of their property. The old carriage house mentioned in the article is now gone as it was in very bad shape when we bought it.
I was sad nothing was mentioned of the dumb waiter that is blocked in a wall in the previous galley kitchen that went up the old servants quarters. I really wanted to know more about it, but what I learned next was even better. What was shocking is that Mrs. Raeburn told the newspaper that one of the cornerstones of the house contains artifacts the Morphy’s put there, but no records exist of the original contents. She said she wasn’t inquisitive enough to investigate. I most certainly am.