Thursday, June 4, 2020


We've had some very nice sunsets here recently, although I can't get out beyond the trees to see them.  So Mrs. F.G. hurries in to borrow my phone (which serves as a camera more often than as a cell phone), and walks out beyond our big trees onto the golf course and gets the picture.  She captured some great shots!  Enjoy.

Headed out today to see and smell the Lilacs.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Out to a Nursery

Following my appointment with the orthopaedic surgeon which got rid of my leg splint (finally !) we headed across town, picking up fish and chips for lunch.  After we parked by Jones Falls Conservation Area to eat (the trail was still blocked off), we headed to the Westside Nursery.

I caught these very faint sunbeams shining down through the clouds on our drive over.  You can barely see them.

We were searching for a shrub for the front garden, where Mrs. F.G. had removed an enormous grass plant that grew in one year to dominate the entire little corner, so we only visited the outdoor area.

Couldn't resist these two gorgeous Rhododendrons.  We bought a nice dwarf Blue Spruce after checking out all the possibilities.

I think people must spend time dreaming up new products just to increase sales.  Have you got one of these new one-sided shovels yet?  Just the thing every gardener needs to make their tool collection complete!

 We took the back roads and came home through the country.  This densely bunched flock of sheep came charging across their pasture, heads buried in the long grass.

And we spotted this new barn quilt.  Just a small window through the trees to capture it.  Nice colours!  Beautiful day here.  I've already been out on the deck with my morning coffee, and I'll likely go for a ride this afternoon.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

It's Off!

Just a short note today, to tell you that the splint on my leg is off! We drove to Owen Sound this morning and saw the orthopaedic surgeon (who  we waited for for over an hour).  He came in and said a few words for  3 1/2 minutes and then we were free to go.

It is delightful to be able to ride around and feel like I'm not even disabled compared to what the last eight weeks have been. I can sit up straight, I can go through doors. And it's a beautiful sunny day outside.  What more could you ask?

Monday, June 1, 2020

Buying a House in a Kit!?

In response to my post about the old 'farm cottage' homes here, Red mentioned buying a house in a kit from a catalog.  In fact my grandparents did just that when they retired.  For 30+ years, right through the Depression, they ran the general store in Kilsyth, a few miles west of here.  That's where my dad grew up.  When they retired they bought another property in the village, a small old home with a huge garden and a small barn.

They ordered a simple small house from Eaton's catalog, not unlike the homes in my previous post, but with out the roof dormer, and built it on the front of the little old cabin that was already there.  This is the home that I remember visiting as a child.  I loved the big raspberry patches in the garden!

Here's that little old house today.  A dormer has been added, as well as a swimming pool, and the garden is gone.  You';d never know it was an Eaton's catalog house!  The big old maple I swung on a tire from as a child is dead though.

I had an elderly aunt who never married and lived with my grandparents all her life.  She lived a lot longer than they did, so she's the one I remember best.  She was the postmistress in the general store, and when they moved kept a small flock of chickens in the small barn.  If I was lucky I'd get to go and help her collect the eggs. 

I have a lot of deep memories of that old house in Kilsyth.  And when my aunt finally died, and the house had to be sold, Mrs. F.G. and I, in between grad school and my first job, got to go and live in that house for s summer, keeping it looking good while it was up for sale.  It was perhaps the best summer of our lives.

Meanwhile, to keep you amused, here are some pix from the street.

The first Tulips.

And the first geraniums.

Our neighbour's beautiful pink Magnolia.

And their Japanese Maple.

Another neighbour has this beautiful Serviceberry which turns white for far too few days.

Of course we've had our share of Dandelions, which were all bright yellow two weeks ago.  Then suddenly they turned white and set their seeds - almost as pretty as when they're yellow!

Friday, May 29, 2020

An Explanation

So why did we end up with thousands of homes being built across southern Ontario in the 'gothic revival' style that my post yesterday illustrated?  Well, in a Canada Farmer issue of November 1865, an illustration as well as building plans were provided!  Along with directions to follow as you started building!  Pretty useful for the do-it-yourselfer.

Here's one of the illustrations of the 'gothic revival' farm cottage from 1865, copied over and over, but you can still make out the style.  This one was of board and batten.

A second illustration shows a stone house in a similar style and size, including the side elevation showing the one-floor extension out back.  It's not surprising that thousands of these homes were built when illustrations and building plans were provided!

And what does 'gothic revival' mean?

Gothic revival refers to a renewed interest in medieval architecture, as perhaps expressed best originally in the great European cathedrals with their statues, gargoyles and spires.  In the 19th century many early great churches, some schools, and university buildings were built in this style.  Perhaps the best widely known gothic revival buildings in Canada are the Canadian Parliament buildings in Ottawa.

This decorative style of architecture was dramatically simplified in the small gothic revival cottages.  This architecture is typified by steep rooflines, gingerboard trim and other decorations such as finials, sidelights and a transom around the front door.  And don't forget the tax incentive that made this one-and-a-half story home so popular.

After photographing the five brick homes in yesterday's post, I finally noticed a similar frame house across the road.  Again it's that same architectural style, though it's not built in brick.  Note the little triangular window under the dormer.

I learned quite a bit the past couple of weeks looking up this building style and trying to understand it.  Hope I haven't just confused you!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Gothic Revival Cottages

As I explored Nelson Street here, the road I ride down most frequently, I realized this spring that there were 5 small original farm cottages, in among some 30 houses altogether, in a style labelled 'Gothic Revival'.  This was the most common style of residential houses for 100 years, right up until 1950 here in Ontario.  Let me explain.

Straight down at the end of the street is this house which illustrates the style, a door in the centre with two downstairs windows, and a small door into the attic.  In this case there's also a wide front porch.  Now see if you think these five houses have a similar style.

This house also has a decorative 'finial' at the peak oft the roof and nice stone caps over the windows and this tiny attic door.

And if you look around the side you'll see there are two symmetrical windows both upstairs and down.  It was actually a lower tax rate that inspired the story and a half design in the late 1800s, because with this you got a lower tax rate, even though there was still usable space upstairs for bedrooms.

This is another house, right across the corner, though this one has an attic window rather than a door.  But it also has the stone window caps, and the front door side panels, just like the first one.

 A close look at the front door which has the same side panels and glass over head as the first house.  You can see there used to be a porch roof here, though today's porch needs a little work!

A third nearby house is the same style - dormer in the roof, centre door with symmetrical front windows.  In this case there's a central porch with the top serving as a balcony, as well as a tiny triangular window over the upstairs attic window, a common feature in these houses.

There's also a one-floor extension out behind.  This was part of the original design of these houses and was used for the kitchen, washroom (if there was one in the original house) and wood storage, as all these houses would have had wood stoves.  You can also see the decorative corner stone work, common to  many of these homes, sometimes done in brick rather than stone, and now often painted.

A closer look makes me think that this is an attic door, rather than a window, opening onto the porch roof.  As well there's another decorative finial, his one just hanging down from the peak of the roof.

A fourth house nearby is similar, but has a different style of attic dormer which makes a big difference in its appearance.

However, this house is the only one that still has the decorative 'gingerboard' under the dormer, and at the tops of the porch pillars.

The last house of the five is further east down the street and you can easily see the similarity.  It has the peaked attic dormer, in this case with a triangular top, and the symmetrical door and windows downstairs.  In this case the window and door caps are made of brick.

Hope you enjoyed this tour of five 'gothic revival' cottages here in Meaford.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Birds of Spring

It's a wonderful time of year to sit and listen to the birds.  On these beautiful mornings I've been able to sit on the deck and enjoy my coffee while all around me I can hear the birds calling.  With only about a dozen species hanging around, I've been able to learn their calls well enough that I know who is singing even if I can't see them.

Although usually a winter bird here, one pair of Downy Woodpeckers has been staying around and I suspect they're nesting nearby.  A rear view shows this is a female, with no red spot on the back of the head.

There is a similar pair of Chickadees, which we also usually see in the winter.  But this pair visits late in the day for some seeds.

I think there may be a family of Blue Jays around now. We here their raucous calls every day when they swoop in.  I think they're nesting in the tall spruce across the road.

The White-crowned Sparrow was still around at least a few days ago, though I'm expecting it to migrate on north.  I think the Dark-eyed Juncos have already left.

We have both a pair of Chipping Sparrows and a pair of Song Sparrows nesting nearby.  I hear their calls regularly, both the long trill of the Chipping Sparrow and the musical song of the Song Sparrow.

And so far the Baltimore Orioles are still here, the male a bright oragne and the female much more subdued.  I hear them calling too.

Besides these that I have pictures of we have the usual Crows, Starlings, Grackles and here Cardinals calling in the distance.  A Turkey Vulture soars overhead about once a day, and a small flock of teenage Canada Geese usually flies over every day.  Altogether the sights and sound of birds outside add a nice new dimension to my world in spring.

I can't believe that we've gone from late snow to it being too hot for comfort in just over two weeks!