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story Maureen Scott photographs Steve Uhraney
They were surprised when they heard the owners had imported three truckloads of antique interior fittings salvaged from a 1890s mansion in South Carolina; heart pine floors, a solid wood door with transom windows and high baseboards. The new home would have the character and beauty of a southern mansion with the benefits of a modern house. There was even a barn and blacksmith shop on the property. The picturesque lot backed onto the Credit River, surrounded on two sides by a conservation area. This was a one-of-a-kind dream home and when the Chartrands heard the house was going on the market, they made their move, literally.
“We didn’t think twice,” says Betty. “We moved because of this house without even selling our other house. We were attracted to the architecture of the home, the privacy, and the beautiful 150-year-old sugar maples and pines that you can view from every window.”
The Chartrand family spent eight wonderful years there raising their two daughters, canoeing on the river, hiking in the conservation area, watching as a dozen deer grazed on the lawn.
“My daughters realise how lucky they were to have grown up here. There’s a wood-burning stove in the barn, so the girls would go out tobogganing and then roast marshmallows. We use the original house (which was moved back to accommodate the new house) to entertain by the pool. We are very reluctant to leave, but we want to move closer to my daughter’s school.
This means another lucky family has the chance to discover utopia.
“Unique, custom, one-of-a-kind, a grand Victorian in the Italianate style,” are words that James Hodgins of Hodgins Realty Group Inc., uses to describe this 4,000 square foot mansion designed by architect, Christopher Wallace.
“The architect was a neighbour of ours,” says Betty. “We also spoke to the couple who built the house. The husband was apparently from Olde Meadowvale Village and he and his wife had lived in the American South. When they came back, they built this home as a project. They poured their love of southern plantation homes into this house.”
You feel like Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind as you stroll along the two long driveways and flagstone walkways or stop to appreciate the view from the wrap-around porch. Guests are greeted in old world style as they walk through the massive antique French doors and into the grand foyer.
Vintage charms are to be found everywhere you look; in the gleaming 100-year-old heart pine floors (very rare and very durable), the 10” high baseboards, the 8 to 15” crown mouldings, the antique doors, many with transom windows, the six antique fireplaces strategically placed in the main rooms, and the 11’ ceilings. There are two staircases, the architectural staircase in the front foyer, and a back staircase.
Antique pocket doors lead to the dining room. It is a stunner – with custom panelling, five windows with California shutters and custom draperies. A gleaming Crystal chandelier throws fragments of rainbow light around this gracious space. In the living room, the Chartrand’s baby grand piano seems to take up minimal space as guests relax and enjoy the antique fireplace and the view of the whispering pines from the five enormous windows overlooking the front and side yards.
Like most family homes, the kitchen and adjoining family room are the heart of the home. The family room is adorned with an antique fireplace and built-in bookcases, yet the room is modernised with surround sound speakers. Custom made, hand-painted, antique finish kitchen cupboards add old world charm to the space, while modern conveniences such as a Sub-Zero fridge and Garland gas stove, a garburator, make it workable. There’s even a hidden walk-in pantry.
“We spend most of our time in the kitchen and family room,” says Betty. “This really is a family home.” In the summer we often play games or do crafts on the veranda.” Double French doors from the family room offer access to the wrap-around verandah, which overlooks the salt-water pool.
A glamorous powder room and well-appointed office complete the main floor. Since only the front steps are worthy of “Miss Scarlet”, we ascend the main staircase. At the top of the open stairway, we stop to admire the view of the foyer, and the heart pine floors underfoot and the 11’ high ceilings.
To our delight, we discover a library is the centrepiece of the second story, complete with custom built-in cabinets. Double antique doors lead to a private balcony, which offers a panoramic view of the front gardens.
There are four bedrooms on the second floor, each more beautiful than the previous, with crown moulding, 10” baseboards, California shutters. Three of the bedrooms feature antique wood-burning fireplaces, plus a three-piece washroom with an antique clawfoot bathtub.
A child’s bedroom offers a secret passageway through the cupboard, coming out by the upper floor laundry room.
The master bedroom and ensuite are exactly what you would expect to find in a southern-style mansion. The five-piece ensuite features marble countertops with two custom made vanities, heated marble floors, a separate glass shower enclosure with rain-head shower, an oversized tub and separate water closet.
The master suite boasts an enormous walk-in closet with built-ins and a window, while an antique wood-burning fireplace adds warmth to this grand space. Double antique doors open up to a private balcony, which overlooks the pool, guest house and a breathtaking view of conservation land .
“From the balcony you can see the S shape in the river. A painting of the view hangs in Mississauga City Hall,” says Betty.
The 1,250 square foot, 1850s guesthouse was the original home on the property, owned by a member of the Gooderham family of Gooderham and Worts. It seems appropriate that part of the main floor of the l.5 story house has been converted to a nine-foot custom made pub-style bar in the open-concept living room. A second-floor bedroom and main floor change/shower/washroom make this space ideal for overnight guests. Wide double doors open to the saltwater pool.
The other “out buildings” include a heritage barn, which was formerly a horse stable with a second-story loft, which has been converted and modernised on the interior. The other heritage building was a blacksmith shop, built in 1848. Talk about a makeover!
The exterior of the building is still authentic, but the inside has been completely renovated as a garage workshop. This man cave is fully insulated and heated, has a security system, concrete floor and secure steel doors have been added behind the original antique doors.
Betty realises she is leaving behind part of history, part of it her family helped make. “What I would say to the new owners is enjoy this house and the nature all around you. It’s a nature lover’s paradise and a very special place.” GL
The heritage barn was formerly a horse stable with a second-story loft.
The garage/workshop was converted from a blacksmith shop built in 1848.
The guest house has a second floor bedroom and main floor change/shower/washroom making this space ideal for overnight guests.
Beautiful 150-year-old sugar maples and pines offer privacy to this one acre lot which backs onto the Credit River and is surrounded on two sides by a conservation area.