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Address: 6045 Regional Road 73 [Old Highway 16]

Location: Pt. Lot 11, Con 2

Date and Fabric: c. 1890, two storey frame.

Known Owners: Not researched - a Craig connection at least into the 1970's; around 1985 Pilon; currently [1989] McMeekin

photograph 1997

Photographs also on file from 1986 and around 1970 [before new siding or painting]

Not fully researched, but there is a very good high school essay on file from 1973 which forms the basis of the following narrative.

This house stands in Carsonby, across from Carsonby Gardens. The woman who has lived in the house all her life is Mrs. W. Craig. The house is 82 years old [in 1973] and thus it was constructed in 1891. Mrs Craig's father, who was pretty well off, hired carpenters to build the house.

The two storey house looks huge from the outside but actually there are only five very small rooms in it. This is due to the sloping shape of the house.

The house was conveniently built across from a store and a cheese factory which indicates that they were not the first to settle in this area, but that the settlement was gradually increasing in population due to a number of trades started there.

The whole house is made of wood which would probably be soft pine because pine was flexible, easy to work and above all plentiful at that time. Besides, brick was more expensive. The house itself was never painted and the wood, exposed to weather conditions, has turned dark grey. 62 The wood was sawed into many small and long strips. They were then nailed to the house in a fashion that was called shingle clapboards. The three doors, one of which remains at the back of the house, had vertical matching boards. There is no trim on the square door.

On the slightly sloping roof there is one gable and one pointed dormer. The roof now [1973] covered with tin was once covered with hand-made shingles. The house has two old chimneys and one new one. One chimney on the main part of the house, near the end of the roof-slope, has the characteristics of a Rhode Island chimney. Both are made of brick but the second one on the second half of the house [the whole house was built at once] has been covered up with some sort of plaster. It has a round pipe protruding from it.

There are ten large windows [each split in four] in this house. The small window in the dormer is very long and narrow, Although Mrs. Craig can't remember the size of the original panes of glass in some of the windows, I can tell from the window above the second door that still has the original glass, that the glass was in very small sections - perhaps it was easier to handle and less breakable - and that the mullions were very thin. A special kind of straight frame with a dip curve surrounds each window as you can see in my diagram. 63

The many designs on the house are not all carved into the wood, as they look. All of the rosebud shapes have been carefully nailed into place.

There are three of the same type of finials on every point of the roof. These finials are a series of ball and bottle shapes. They are held on each side by what appears to be half a violin. Below these designs there are sections of small wood pieces, each section going in the opposite direction of the other. These small carved-out pieces give the top of the house depth and it looks very attractive. Below this there is a line of curves which resembles the small bargeboards of a gingerbread house. Last of all, there are many diamond, triangular, pushed-out shapes. These designs are on the dormer, and on the gable too. Another type of design which attracts your eyes if you look closely is found underneath the roof. The clapboards look like a huge escalator going downwards and joining to the wall.

Something that surprised me was that there were no lightning rods on the house, as many old houses have. This was because they were very expensive and also very fragile and they could break on the way from the store.

Behind the house there is an outhouse which is still in use. This little outhouse resembles a birdhouse with its shingle roof and tiny window.

Before, on the outside, there was a 37 foot well and a pump. However, in the winter when the water froze they relied on their cistern which was different from other cisterns, for it was installed on the inside of the house. This cistern was in a tiny room which was built into the wall. When the rain outside was caught in the roofpan, it would go straight down to the kitchen through a series of pipes. This was considered modern, because other people had to go outside to collect the water from the cistern.

The whole house was surrounded by a rounded wire fence, much like today's flower protectors. The house never had a verandah.

Once, when questioned about fires, Lila Craig told me that their kitchen caught on fire due to something falling out of the stove. Her mother herded her six brothers and sisters out of the house and ran across to the store. Soon a bucket brigade was formed and the fire was put out. Neighbors were a blessing then. One surprising fact is that neither her mother nor her father knew that the whole house is insulated with protecting fire stones. Mrs. Craig herself found this out only recently, when a man had to drill through them to install the electricity. 64 Upstairs there is a small dark attic but it is not in use.

Beside the house there is a barn-shaped building which has only two crudely pushed-in doors. This building was the back pan of a blacksmith shop. The front part was torn down to help make a neighbor's barn. Mrs. Craig's father was the village blacksmith and he made 65 sleighs, buggies, fixed wheels and did other types of jobs. In the section of the shop which still stands, his two sons worked; one, in the lower section, did carpentry while his brother upstairs painted what he made. These brothers were respected by the people for their trades were considered very useful. Later, though, these trades were abandoned due to new machinery and automobiles. In short, economic change came to the village of Carsonby.

Today [1973], the house is much the same as it was 82 years ago except that the whole house had to be moved back when a new and wider road was constructed. Some other changes include

Miss Menge concluded: "1 have thoroughly enjoyed doing this essay for I have become very interested in old houses like the Craig House. I passed the same house at least three times every week, but I just regarded it as a plain old ordinary square grey house. From the road, you never could see any special designs. Now, it is strange the way every house has some special detail that makes it stand out from its neighbours." [after Janet Menge, 1973]

62 The house has since been clad in white, probably aluminum. This hides much of the detail described in the report, which presumably continues to exist under the siding.

64 In 19th c. frame houses, it was fairly common to run grout between the studs. It goes too far to describe this as "protecting fire stones" but it did eliminate the chimney effect which would otherwise draw the fire up between the walls. It will also make a proper mess of an electrician's drill!

65 More likely, "repaired". By the late 19th c., most horse-drawn equipment was factory-made.

March, 1990

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