Tuesday, March 06, 2012


 As we are now into March 2012, I can only apologise for the lack of a blog since January. Jenn has been working almost full time with substitute teaching in Bridgetown, Annapolis Royal and Cornwallis, as well as running art lessons for children at weekends. Thankfully, she now has a job that will take her through to the end of the school term, covering for a teacher on maternity leave. It’s a great relief and has come just at the right time.

Winter is not yet over here just yet, so we expect to have some very cold days, but the days are getting longer.  We have got through our first winter, which we are told was not especially harsh. That we are grateful for! There have been times when even with the wood stove belching out heat and two insulated rooms cannot keep us warm with a howling gale outside and -15c with the wind chill bringing the temperature to -30c. So that’s when you just head for bed with the electric blanket on 9 and watch TV!  The wood stove has done a marvellous job and its working almost 24/7 at the present. The wood pile in the basement and the barn is holding up and unless we get a sustained cold period we should be OK until the spring arrives.

The house is a great place, but don’t expect grand staircases, lofty rooms and servant quarters. This was a dwelling for the Loyalist settlers from New England area of the USA. They built it themselves from the forest that surrounds the North Mountain. It is simple, functional and was the Georgian style house of the time. Other than the handmade nails this house is made entirely of timber. Not just the average 4x2 but huge beams vertically and horizontally. For example the horizontal beams are 25ft long and 9 inches square. We also have two beams that are 33 feet long.

March was always going to be the resumption of physical work on the place, but before I can do this we have had to involve the services of a Building Inspector, whose job it is to make sure that the improvements and changes we make to the property are within that stated code. This applies to almost anything, from the thickness of insulation in the walls, new stud walls, electrics, plumbing, and building material. It also applies to the size of windows in bedrooms, where we have had to order larger windows that the house originally had to comply with fire regulations. To make sure all the work is done to code a set of comprehensive drawings has had to be made. These have now been completed and within the next two weeks we will meet with the Building Inspector to agree to the way forward.  

In the meantime I have taken out the ceiling from the long bedroom (25ft x 12ft), plus all the walls etc. These were of lathe and plaster construction and had 250 years of accumulated rubbish above and behind them. Once down the plaster was bagged up (around 750kgs or 1600lbs) they were moved by our car to the tip. The lathe makes great kindling so that was taken to the barn for storage. Then there is the matter of removing thousands of handmade nails from the beams and generally cleaning up the mess.

Next job is to build out any walls that are not the regulation thickness with 6x2 studs. There will also be a small shower, bath and toilet so I need to start the stud work for as well but only after the Inspector has given the OK. To save on the physical nature I have also bought an electric mitre saw, which is going to help a lot and with any luck will allow my arms to repair themselves (I was diagnosed with both tennis and golf elbow from too much sawing and hammering!).

The house from the river bank

Another wonderful sunset

A Blue Jay visits the bread table

Plaster was already coming off in large chunks

The compound mitre saw - It will save Brian's arm

The ceiling now on the floor

The beams, hidden for 250 years and all in fantastic condition
Brian with the plaster bagged up - filthy job. He had a beer or two that night.

Amongst all the rubbish, these are corn husks taken to the attic years ago by racoons for snacks!  They also came down with the ceiling!

Sunset on a very cold day

Jenn is in there somewhere!

The railway bridge that once carried a railway in Annapolis Royal