Friday, July 25, 2014

The Old House is Gone

I am a foundation of cedar logs and crumbling rubble.
I am sloped ceilings and wood beams.
I am cold air flowing through the west wall.
I am walnuts tucked under the bathtub and mice weaving around the traps.
I am a bush cord of hardwood and rolling flames.
I am an ancient GE stove churning out meals.
I am three laughing, crying, fighting children.
I am Aiden thumping down the 'too steep' steps.
I am Jessie twirling on the honey stained hardwood.
I am Stella Jane poking tiny fingertips into broken floorboards.
I am bathing the kids while washing the dishes.
I am open windows and strong breezes.
I am a century of shelter.
(Written during our last winter in the old house.  In the style of 'Where I'm From' by George Ella Lyon.)

When we bought this farm eight years ago, the house was considered a 'tear down'.  Nevertheless, we fixed it up as best we could and started our family there.

There were so many things that drove me crazy about that old house.  I don't seem to remember them now.  It was a charming old place built in 1860.  The memories from our brief time there make me wonder about the many other families that grew up there, played there, ate there, worked there...


Because of our township by-laws, we knew from the beginning that building a new house on the property meant that the old one would have to come down.  So, two years after starting the building  process, her time had come.

(Thankfully, I've been assured that our kids will indeed keep growing and that we'll continue to make new memories in the new house!)

We started by peeling back the layers of vinyl siding, asphalt shingles, board and batten siding and fibreglass insulation to reveal and salvage the beautiful original wood plank sheathing for future projects.  Some of the aged deep brown boards are 22" wide and 3" thick!

The integrity of the original mortise and tenon framing was impressive and solid.

As we moved through the demolition process, I surprised myself by being sentimental about watching it go.  While living it, I couldn't wait for it to be levelled!

It's certainly a strange feeling to be cooking dinner in your shiny new house, while just outside, the old one is slowly being torn down; its dust floating in through the windows.

A few days into demolition, I realized that I forgot to save a particular corner of drywall where we had marked all the kids heights over the years.  Luckily, I managed to find it in the rubble, a bit damaged. 

A day later and it would have been long gone.  It will be pieced back together and mounted in the new house.

The yard is cleared now and, although it's still a strange sight, we're getting used to our new view and wide open space, feeling a little lighter.


  1. We are about to start reno's on our 230 year old gal. Stripping off the 70's in hopes of getting her through the next 100 years. Hope you can use the best of the salvage. We decided to keep our low doors as that is all original, we fit fine, tall visitors will have to duck. Some sad things were done in the years of remodeling, and others things not done at all. The old house history still is what gets me everytime I walk into one. A true love affair, until the daily life gets too grinding. Fingers crossed we get it right -our hearts are in it, and that counts. You can't save them all, and it is just that. A Belle too old for another dance. I love your new place and wish you a lifetime of new memories.

  2. Hi A Little Cape,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts - sounds like you have the same sentimental attachment to your 'old gal'. All the best with your own reno!


  3. I've read your entire blog. I'm enchanted. I can't wait for the next episode. I check every day. Are you going to write more? If not, I will unwillingly quit checking. I really want you to continue.

  4. It's sad that you had to leave such a gem of an abode. I guess the saying is true that we only really start to miss something once we've lost them. I believe it's all for the better, though, and now you have a much better home and wide open spaces on your lot. Thank you for sharing that moment of sentimentality with all of us! I hope your family is in the best of health this season!

    Willard Evans @ Wow Homes

  5. I believe the memories of that old house will always linger in your mind even after the demolition. Now that the old house is gone, it’s time for you to start another chapter of your life with your new dwelling. I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to construct a new house that’s more suited for your family’s needs. Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading your construction updates in your future posts. All the best! :)

    Barry Sutton @ Iron Point Mortgage

  6. When choosing the builder and his team, the cheapest isn’t always the best. A person’s workmanship, dedication, management skills, availability and communication skills are the main priorities when making up house renovation.
    owner custom home construction houston