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Address: 1980 Phelan Road

"Strathmere", and SS #11: "The Phelan School"

Location: Lot 16, Con 2, School originally at or near 6311 Ormond Road in S.1/2 Lot 15, Con 2

Date and Fabric: c.1865 two storey stone farmhouse and 1895 one room frame schoolhouse

Known Owners:

House School
Alexander Grant [lot only] - 1842 S.S. No. 11
and successor Boards
1895 -1962
John Phelan connection 1842 - 1955
Alex and Eleanor Sim 1955 - c. 1980 Alex Sim 1962 - c. 1980
Walter Baker currently [ moved to farm]

photograph 1997

photograph 1997

File also has other photographs of house undated but probably 1980's and sketch dated 1979; also school undated but probably 1979 on new site.

Architectural description of Strathmere also on file

In 1835, John Cole settled on lot 19, concession 2, North Gower. Soon after his arrival, he wrote to an old friend, John Phelan of Queen's County, Ireland, urging him to come to Canada. In 1840, Phelan followed his advice, married Margaret McCarthy of Goulbourn, and in 1842 purchased lot 16 concession 2. In 1846 he bought the adjoining lot 17, for a total ownership of 400 acres.

In 1860 John Cole built his stone house, 56 and when it was finished boasted to his neighbor that this would be the finest house ever built in the township. This challenge, along with religious rivalry [Phelan was Roman Catholic, Cole Church of England], led to Phelan beginning construction of one of the largest fieldstone houses in the Rideau Valley. The construction dates may never be known exactly but as Phelan was a man of action, it is likely that work on his house began immediately. The 1861 census records the presence of several individuals, all marked as labourers, listed immediately after Phelan's name. The major construction project in the area was doubtless the Phelan house.

John and Margaret Phelan had fifteen children and only the last, a girl, was born in the new house. This was in 1865, which would indicate that the family had moved in by that date. Beatrice Phelan recalled that her father John, who was born in 1851, had stated that he helped work on the last of the elaborate plaster mouldings when he was nineteen, so this indicates that by 1870, only a few finishing touches remained. This John Phelan stayed on the farm throughout his lifetime and it remained with his children until 1955 when the property was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Alex Sim. The house then became a centre for classes in a wide variety of the arts and for encounter groups. Strathmere became increasingly well known, with articles and photographs appearing in The Ancestral Roof by Anthony Adamson and Marion MacRae, The Ottawa Country by Courtney Bond, and Carleton Saga by Harry and Olive Walker.

S.S. No. 11, known as the Phelan School, was built in 1895 on part of the south half of lot 15 in concession 2 to serve the southerly part of the Carsonby area. John Phelan was one of the first trustees. The school was closed for the 1949 - 50 school year, reopened in September, 1950, and closed for good in June, 1952. It was sold to Alex Sim and moved across the road to his farm in 1962, where it was used in the summers, primarily for art and drama classes.

In about 1980, the property was sold to Professor Walter Baker and his family, and has been developed as a conference and seminar centre.

[after Robert Hunter, c. 1980]

56 See 6519 Third Line

March, 1990

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