NEW PRICE! January, 2014. This is a good property, and an exciting listing for me (here it is). But it strikes me that it’s a challenging spot too. It’s an opportunity, and I suppose it’s a risk too. It’s a no-brainer and it’s also complicated. So let’s start at the beginning.
Taxes have been collected on this place since 1827. And the seller tells me with some confidence that this old farmhouse was once the property of the British Military Engineer, John By (that’s Lieutenant-Colonel John By to you and me), who, I’m sure you recall, led the construction of the Rideau Canal. That’s a history that may or may not stand up to scrutiny, but it’s undeniable that to walk around this old house, to duck under the twisting and trailing vines, and to uncover the old stone steps up to the big field, is to sense the long history on offer here. It felt to me this morning, while I was out there taking some photographs, and hammering a couple of signs in roadside, that I could sense some slight thickening of the air, could almost apprehend the toil and trouble involved in taming to some extent this wild land, could hear the shrieks of children long grown and gone, as well as the serious and less-so talk of men and women who lived on this road, and stared over the same bay, and pushed and directed ploughs over rocky ground, and herded livestock, who even read under the same grand trees that still tower over the sharp slopes down to the water. It’s all there, I reckon, if you concentrate a little.
What’s also still there is a good bit of work. The farmhouse is in need of restoring, and that’s going to take serious time and money. But the stripping down has already been done (lovingly, and carefully) and the foundation has been repaired properly. It’s time now for someone to start finishing again. There are great floors and mouldings and so on still here, and a productive drilled well not far from the front door. There are some new windows already in place (and what views you’ll have standing behind that glass), and the seller would be more than happy to share with you what it is he’s done, and what remains to be done.
I think it’s worth the effort. I think you’d have a real marvel on your hands once you were done. But I just don’t know if that’s what will happen here.
The big field at the top of the hill is home to a few horses at the moment, but it would be a proud spot to build a house way back from the road, and close to the woods, and up from the water. You’d be creating one heck of an estate, I think, if you went that route. You’d create the beginnings of a new future for this land.
Or perhaps you’ll go for a third option and you’ll sever the land into two or three pieces, and keep one for yourself and maybe even sell the other two for what you paid for the whole lot. It’s possible, I think. But it’s also complicated by the fact that you’d need archeological inspections completed on each piece to be severed, probably two on each piece, and surveys and so on. It’s going to take you a while, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a frustrating process too.
So there are options here, lots of them, that’s my point, and I’m looking forward to seeing which future comes to pass here. If it were up to me I’d see the farmhouse restored, but it’s not my vision that matters here, it’s yours.
My suggestion is that you accept my invitation to come out for a look at the house. And come for a walk of the property. You’ll be surprised at just how many different sorts of landscape are on offer here. You’ll marvel at just how densely wooded the back of the land is (and these are real woods, not just scrub bush), and how deep the field is. Stand at its centre and you’ll feel about a mile from any fence or boundary. For my part, I wanted to lie on my back and stare at the sky. The waterfront is shallow, so don’t show up with a big boat attached to the back of your truck, or a couple of jet-skis. This is more canoe and kayak and field binocular territory, but then I like that best anyway. I want to hear birds more than I want to hear motors, and I want to see lily pads floating on the surface, not the rainbow stains of gasoline.
So there you have it. And I feel I’ve only scratched at the surface, really. Call me, if you like, and I’ll go on a bit more. I’d be happy to do that. Or I can just shut up, that’s the better route, no doubt, and let you discover the place for yourself.
* Note also that there is a 10-inch oil products pipeline running beneath the property near the back of the big field. It's operated by Trans-Northern pipelines and my favourite newspaper, The Kingston Whig-Standard, wrote an article about it recently.