A few months ago Jennifer Fenwick Irwin gave me a copy of an old real estate listing for my home from 1977. After a beloved owner of my home, Mr. Reaburn died, their son Bert put the house up for sale and his wife May lived at Fairmont Nursing Home in Almonte. They did sell the house, but the new owner only managed to hold on to it for a year, and then it fell into the hands of the bank. We bought it in 1981 and I am still here.
The ad said it was a two storey home built for the Morphy’s when the area was known as Morphy’s Falls. They advertised it as a 4 bedroom home with hot water and oil fired heat. They also said there was a fireplace and a music room with quarter cut oak floors. The wide staircase was made from Cypress wood (looks like oak but better they said) and a three -car garage with a stone post in the centre that could be used as a sundial. Taxes were $1,153.82 and stone walls were supposedly 2 feet thick.
So what is different now?
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. I still have not found any records pertaining to those two latter names.
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 and additions built by the Crams. The three car garage advertised was actually an old carriage house and it was torn down in 1985, as it would have fallen down sooner than later.
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. . The Raeburn’s 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.
Two feet thick walls? No, they are actually 3 foot walls as we found out during the fire of 1995. If this house had not been built of stone it would have been razed to the ground after the fire. I don’t know where the music room was- but, I assume it is now what we call the study. As for the fireplaces, there used to be two, but one got converted into gas and the other one actually had a blocked flue when we bought it and we found out the hard way when we tried to light a fire. It now lies dormant.
The four bedrooms in the listing confuses me as there are 3 bedrooms in the main house and there are two smaller rooms in the old ‘servants quarters’. But it was mentioned years ago there were three in the back connected to the back staircase.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. So there will always be a mystery of how many bedrooms were actually in this house. There are now two more bedrooms in the new section that was built in the early 90s.
The listing mentions many built-ins with leaded windows. I can only count three. The built in dining room cupboard which has been moved three times in that room. The upper window insert of the dining room and the door to the now new solarium that the restoration workers put a ladder through after the fire.
They do mention the basement floor which was– simply– Carleton Place’s bedrock in its raw form and–they forget to mention that 4 giant logs held up the floors of this very house. We did renovate the basement, but one of the storage rooms still is ‘founded upon a rock’ as Howard Morton Brown once wrote.
That first Spring our basement was privy to the running waters that have been flowing down from Tom Horton’s at Lambsdown on an annual cycle for hundreds of years. While repairing the basement after the fire we did find the hidden cistern room and I guess they just directed all that fresh flowing basement water running through into that room.
Should I mention the only existing kitchen (summer kitchens were torn down) was a galley kitchen which was obviously only for the help. If you opened the oven door you had to climb across it to get to the other side and there was no room in there for a fridge so that was down in the basement. Sometimes that fridge was half way under water in the Spring. After we sat one too many times at a tiny table in the galley kitchen to eat, and watched gusts coming in from the windows blowing things around on the table, we built an addition on and a new kitchen was the main focus. No one ever tells you about the joys of an older home do they? I personally have volumes of stories.:)
As for the taxes being about $1100- well, I think we all know the answer to that– and as for the heritage maple trees- I got a work order from the town this year for many to be removed due to their age.
In reality I have yet to find the dumbwaiter, nor any fabulous finds. Some days I don’t like my house as things take turns breaking down and other days I know it is my job to protect the heritage of this home no matter how cold I get in the winters from an out dated broken-down boiler heating system.
So pardon me while I move my laptop upstairs right now as drafty gusts are picking up, but in all honesty I will have my feet firmly planed in my home until I die. After all, I just don’t understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment.
Can I get back to you about that on Friday?:)
Author’s Note– As I read the list of Pallbearers below for George’s funeral I realized I know so much more about these folks today- and for that I am grateful…
October 13, 1977 REABURN
In hospital at Carleton Place, Ontario on Thursday, October 13, 1977, GEORGE WILLIAMSON REABURN, beloved husband of Lucinda May Finlayson, dear father of Bert, Yellowknife NWT, dear grandfather of Stephen and Sarah, in his 84th year. Rested at the Alan R. Barker Funeral Home, McArthur Avenue, Carleton Place. Service was held in the chapel on Saturday at 3 p.m. Interment Boyd’s United Cemetery.
October 13, 1977 George W. Raeburn
George Williamson Raeburn died at Carleton Place and District Memorial Hospital on October 13, 1977. Mr. Reaburn was born in Dalhousie Mills, Ontario on June 26, 1893. He first worked for the Bank of Ottawa and the Bank of Commerce at Parry Sound, Ontario and later at the Canadian Pacific Railway, Chesterville and Winchester and since 1938 at Carleton Place.
In 1922 he married Lucinda May Finlayson of Almonte and they had one son Bert, presently in Yellowknife, NWT. Mr. Reaburn was very active in the Chesterville United Church and Zion-Memorial United Church of Carleton Place and was clerk of session for many years. His other interests included the Carleton Place Scout Group Committee and he was a driver for the Cancer Society. He was a member of Chesterville Lodge No. 302 A.F. and A.M. and was Worshipful Master in 1923.
In Carleton Place he was active with St. John Lodge No. 64 and Maple Chapter No. 116 RAM. The service was held from the Barker Funeral Home, Carleton Place with interment in Boyd’s Cemetery. He is survived by his wife, May of Fairview Manor, a son Bert and daughter-in-law Marion of Yellowknife and two grandchildren Stephen and Sarah Leigh, also, of Yellowknife and by a brother-in-law, Edgar Findlayson of Carleton Place.
Pallbearers were Andrew Dickey, Wilf Hogan, H. B. Montgomery, George Nobes, Renhart Springer and Stewart White. Honorary pallbearers were Lloyd Allen, Stewart Cavers, Hub Dopson, Jim Hammond, Mac MacCauley, Frank Moon, Mervyn Morris, Cecil Ruttle, Eric Simpson, Herb Sinclair and Earl Willows.
Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News