June 17, 1972
A pioneer stone house with many unusual features, not far’ from here, is mercifully hidden away from, the speeding traffic of Highway 7 on a private road just left of the highway after it passes over the bridge of the Mississippi River. The waterway then becomes Mississippi Lake and the house faces it.
It was built by Nicholas Dixon, who emigrated to Canada from England in 1819, and dates from the 1830’s. The first Dixon house of log was recorded at Perth in 1820. The spot is still known as Dixon’s Landing and the house is surrounded by magnificent trees of oak, elm, maple and butternut, and a flagstone path and steps lead downwards to the water.
There is also a wide flagstone-terrace at the front of the house. The windows were originally 24 panes but some years ago the bottom sashes were changed, probably to admit more light, but the upper sash was left intact. In the main section of the house the windows are all recessed and beautifully panelled.
In this section “Bible” doors are found with the familiar semi-elliptical fanlight in “the ” entrance doorway. This was a one-storey house originally, the second floor and kitchen wing would appear to have been added about 30 years later. Here the windows are all casement and a door-maker of no mean skill fashioned panelled doors of distinction. They have six panels horizontally placed designed in perspective the panels narrowing as they mount upwards.
The arrangement is so cleverly conceived that one is not conscious of it immediately and it comes as a delightful surprise to find such building ingenuity. The doors, which all-have tiny cornices at the top are consequently delicate instead of heavy. The original fireplace, and bake oven still dominate one wall of the dining-room which was the old kitchen and off from it, at the front of the house, is the “clock room.”
Here we find whimsey and practicality combined, as the clock shelf is built right into the front wall of the room. Old stories relate how neighbors came to the “clock room” to check their timepieces, Mr. Dixon’s clock being the backwoods equivalent of Big Ben. When he died, he left his remaining unmarried daughter not only the room itself but the income from three sheep or five pounds per annum thus providing both shelter and security.
As the property remained in the family for many years this stipend was probably ample for a spinster at the time. A box-staircase leads steeply to the second floor, the hand rails being gracefully turned at the bottom.
Upstairs are three bedrooms and a bathroom in which the present owners, Major and Mrs. W. E. S. Gamblin, plan to install the enormous bathtub rescued from the lately-demolished Robert Borden house on Wurtemburg Street. Mrs. Gamblin describes the tub as having “feathers” on the feet and being nine inches longer than the present one. Suitable lights, sink and fixtures of the same period will also be used.
The Gamblins are also restoring the kitchen to create a country atmosphere. – A central vintage table and rush-bottomed chairs will echo the past along with pine corner cupboards. The existing modern cupboards will disappear. The sink will be moved and a matching window facing the garden at the rear, will be cut like the present one to allow more light and a view of the meadow. Major Gamblin is an excellent craftsman and has re- finished many old family: pieces of: maritime furniture, besides designing and making an exquisite steeple clock.
He has also adapted an antique latch and door handle exactly to fit the old grooves on the entrance door. The Dixon farm was bought by Richard F. Nagle from Nicholas Dixon in the late 1860’s. He was a lumber contractor end dealer and it was probably in his tenure that the kitchen wing and, second storey were added.
In a report of his death, 1891, W. W. “Billy” Cliff, first editor of the Carleton Place Guardian says: “He will be remembered as one of the strongest men in the region “and “he and his wife stood unrivalled as the handsomest couple in the Ottawa Valley.”
Loch End Ranch next belonged to the William R. Caldwell family followed by Rear Admiral John G. Knowlton and Mrs. Knowlton, who now lives next door. Major “Bill” Gamblin and Mrs. Gamblin bought it in 1968. Their plans are varied. Besides extensive restoration to the house, they are establishing a tree farm having planted 1300 trees in the meadow at the rear of the house. The garden is being enlarged and Major Gamblin is regarding the barn (which too has casement windows) speculatively.
Besides all these treasures there is also the visible “visitor” a friendly ghost who opens the back door mysteriously at 5.30 some afternoons and causes Primrose, the daschund, to stare rigidly into space, her hackles rising. ; Is it Nicholas Dixon come back for a nostalgic survey, or Richard Nagle? Or, is it only one of the neighbors coming to check the accuracy of his watch in the clock room? Whoever or whatever it is leaves the Gamblins unabashed. Only Primrose is apprehensive.
Crossing back to Dixon’s Point, Mr. Dixon was an Englishman who came in 1820 with a wife and seven children. His farm where he lived for over forty years, and his stone house appear to have included part of what is now the Caldwell Lock End Ranch. He had a potash works on the part facing the river, called Dixon’s Landing, opposite Indians Landing. The trotting races held on the ice at Dixon’s Landing began as early as 1858.