It took seven long years for the McEwen’s to build this stone house on the 7th line, about a half mile west of Highway 29. Made of local limestone it has a centre door way with Cross and Bible panels, sidelights, and a square fanlight at the top. Directly over the door is proudly marked 1873, the day that the house was finally completed.
Set in a grove of lovely trees the house has a snake fence separating it from the roadway and at the rear there was once barns, a stable, a tack house and a drive shed. The house that remained in the family for decades was one of the finest homes in Beckwith at one point.
The dining room has a ‘dado’ once known as a chair rail, and all the rooms were finished as it was truly a house of distinction with a boxed staircase located in the centre hall. The kitchen has an interesting porthole window facing West and recessed windows are all panelled and have bubble glass panes. Beamed ceilings, golden ash woodwork, and pegged floors grace the house as well as matching doors throughout with 6 panels and enamelled doorknobs.
That large staircase carried the feet of a family that led upwards to three bedrooms complete with floors made of Balsam Poplar or Balm of Gilead. It was once a popular tree as it also had medicinal properties of balsam poplar that lie in the winter buds. These are black, upright and sticky, and are strongly aromatic and if chewed taste tarry and hot.
It is not surprising that the buds also contain and are covered with waxy resins, terpenes and phenolics with disinfectant properties. It is among the fastest growing trees in Canada, up to a foot each year, especially when young. The trees are short-lived, normally up to about 100 years, but used as flooring like this home it can give a golden glow to the atmosphere of the home.
The former ell and woodshed was converted in the 70s by Eve and Peter Levers who bought the home from Clarence McEwen. Today the house is still there with a few minor changes.
When I had to turn either red or left on Highway 29; it was a no brainer, and I immediately felt drawn to the left. It was the right move as sure enough, barely half a mile now the road, was the McEwen home. It was set back farther than what I had originally thought and thought of living there the long cold winters in this secluded area. In fact I could still see in my mind “Bossin’ Billy” McEwen Muirhead trudging down the road after another argument with her husband with her coat hem blowing in the wind.
The barns were no longer there, but the property was well maintained and looked loved. That’s all that mattered to me, the history of the McEwen house still lives on– and that’s what counts.
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)