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Address: 2396 Fairmile Road
"Fairmile"

Location: Lot 42, Concession 4

Date and Fabric: pre-1871, square timber and board-and-batten

Known Owners:

James Douglas connection pre-1871 - 1929
Oscar Henry Barclay 1929 - 1953
Lorne and Cassie Perreault 1953 - 1958
Commodore and Mrs. Freeborn 1958 - ?
Dennis Taylor May, 1984
(See Presence of the Past
for that month), and currently

photograph 1997

Other photos on file undated but probably about 1980, and a good oversize one one from 1910-1912

See also "Presence of the Past for May, 1984.

This 19th century homestead at the intersection of Donnelly Drive and Fairmile Road is a complex of log and board-and-batten buildings which have been renovated and partly restored to their original character. Although the street address is Fairmile, the house actually faces Donnelly Drive and was reached in the past by a lane from that side. There are three principal buildings: the main house, the large barn, and a smaller house which has been variously used as a pigsty, residence, and antique shop.

Settlement of the property was first recorded by the 1871 North Gower census, which shows that James Douglas, a native of Ireland born in 1828, was in possession of the land and had built a house on it. The oldest part of the house, a square timber rectangle with a gable roof, accordingly dates from sometime before 1871. The timbers are roughly ten inches in cross-section and are notched together and sealed with daubing. An addition consisting of a board and batten summer kitchen and a woodshed was later added and by 1929, when the farm was sold to Oscar Henry Barclay for $2,200, the house had been covered by clapboard. By this time, the roof line had also been altered by the addition of a front gable with a window to provide light for the upper storey.

Because of its location on the Rideau River, the property must have been familiar to many nineteenth century passers-by. Mrs. Margery Robb, a descendant of the Douglas family, recalled in 1984 that this particular part of the river was frequently used as a crossing place. Many a traveller, overtaken by bad weather, found overnight refuge in the log house. When commercial boats plied the canal, the Douglases operated a sort of riverside vegetable stand, having constructed a wharf at which passing boats could tie up.

As boat traffic past the back door dwindled, overland traffic past the front door increased on the road that became Highway 16 in 1926. Automobiles were becoming more common, though winter travel was still by horse and sleigh. Mrs. Ruth Bell, daughter of Mr. Barclay, recalls that during the Depression years her parents provided what is now called tourist accommodation. They did not charge a fixed rate, but just took what people felt like leaving. Her father also operated a market garden and Mrs. Bell remembers accompanying him to Smiths Falls or Ottawa to sell his produce.

The barn is a large L-shaped structure partly of vertical and horizontal boards and partly of board-and-batten. The bell-cast roof is now [1986] of sheet metal. The north section of the barn was added in 1938 by Mr. Barclay and the entire structure now has a concrete foundation.

The third main building was taken apart, moved to the property and reassembled in 1939 by Mr. Barclay. He recalled that it came from somewhere in Marlborough north-east of Burritrs Rapids and was originally owned by the Ross family 34. It is a simple square-timber structure, rectangular and gable-roofed. A central front door with two flanking windows, and two windows on each side facade, are the structure's main features. The foundation is now [c. 1980] fieldstone and cement, and the roof sheet metal. As in the main house, window and door frames have been replaced with new wood.

Mr. Barclay used the building as a pig sty. In 1953 the farm was purchased by Lorne and Cassie Perreault of Cyrville who developed an extensive market garden, although they did not live there. The main house was left vacant and the pig sty renovated as the overseer's house, and covered in clapboard.

Five years later, in 1958, Fairmile was purchased by the late Commodore and Mrs. Freeborn who used the main house as their dwelling and operated a well-known antique shop in the former overseer's house. They stripped the clapboard off both houses, revealing the square timbers, and also replaced the siding on the rear addition and added a new porch. On the main house, the original central front door opening was maintained but the single window on either side was changed to double windows. The area of each side gable is now [c.1980] sided with board and batten and there are two windows in each gable area. Two new brick chimneys have been added.

[after Robert Hunter, c 1980, and "Presence of the Past", May, 1984]

Since the foregoing was written the present owner, Mr. Dennis Taylor, has undertaken an extensive renovation of the former antique shop to create a "detached extension" of the main house. In the summer of 1989, the building was moved off the old foundation, a cellar excavated, a new concrete foundation poured, and the building replaced. A single storey extension was rebuilt on the west side. The roof and second storey were removed and replaced with new construction including a much steeper roof pitch to provide a high "cathedral" ceiling for the second storey. The interior has been elegantly refinished, partly in drywall and partly in exposed square timbering.

[D. Bartlett, 1980]

34 There was a Ross farm on Lot 12 in the first concession of Marlborough, and we have a photo of "Orville Ross's log house" taken in 1975 on the second concession of Marlborough - lot not identified

March, 1990

 

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