Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Old Stone House .................No: Not the one in Verdun

Quebec does have some cool old stone houses,& plenty of them really.This guy just put out a 'coffee table' type book on old houses around LaBelle Province (it might be a neat book to have ?) .......They do all look quite similar really from the one in Verdun to this version called Therrien House in Laval.......well stones are stones I guess ......







This is a longer version of descriptive text for the Therrien House, which appears on page 110 of Laval photographer Perry Mastrovito's just released new coffee-table book Old Homes of Quebec (Éditions Broquet Inc, 160 pages, bilingual text, $39.95). The book, lavishly illustrated with more than 300 colour photos, showcases some of Quebec's most magnificent old log and fieldstone homes constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as some built just a couple of decades ago.

This former farm house built around 1722 in St. François, Laval, is believed to be one of the oldest homes in the area.

Records reveal the original inhabitant, Pierre Beauchamp, a carpenter, was given the land by the Séminaire de Québec in 1718. In 1846, Charles Therrien acquired the house and the adjacent agricultural fields. For 140 years, several generations of the Therrien family occupied this fieldstone house, hence the name "Therrien house."

To this day, a large part of the land, which surrounds the house that faces the Mille Îles River, is still used for growing crops. On Aug. 28, 1974, it was designated a historic monument by the Ministre des Affaires Culturelles du Québec.

This part of Laval, with its wide open spaces, provides the perfect rural setting for this type of old house.

And because of these surroundings, it's easy to imagine the sounds made almost three centuries ago, of horses and other livestock in the fields, and the thunderous roar of trees being felled by axe for firewood and to clear the land for planting crops.

In his book, Laval - Une histoire d'appartenance, Marcel Paquette, a historian, writes that in the '70s at the request of the Société d'histoire de L'île Jésus, archaeological searches were undertaken not too far from here at the easternmost point of the island.

Some arrowhead tips and the vestiges of an Algonquin Indian settlement camp were uncovered.

In spite of these remarkable discoveries, no other efforts were expended to further exploit the dig site.

The present owners bought this home in 2006. While showing me around their property, after I had scouted it for possible inclusion in my book Old Homes of Quebec, they told me a fact about this house which conjured in my mind an incredible image.

Apparently sometime in the 1700s, the house came under attack by natives.

Upstairs in the master bedroom, there's a mezzanine, which serves as the exercise room and there you can get a good close-up view of the underside of the original roof boards, which lay bare just like when they were first installed.

Upon closer inspection of these roof boards, and incredulous as it may seem and sound, especially since we're talking here almost 300 years ago, the actual holes and black scorch marks left by two flaming arrows, which hit their mark and pierced through the roof, are still visible.

When the owners redid the roof, they were able to restore and keep the original roof boards intact and exposed because they opted to solidify and insulate the roof, which is covered with cedar shingles from the outside.

Another peculiar and fascinating aspect about this house, which is not readily apparent at first glance, is that when you're standing on the front lawn looking at the house, one automatically perceives it as being the façade. In fact, it is actually the rear of the house we are seeing as it was constructed to be back in the day.

For as the rural population expanded in Laval and elsewhere, a continuous road system, which could connect the different municipalities together, had to be developed and maintained. So some municipalities and towns either expropriated or bought from the owners parts of their land to reconfigure or extend the road.

This home, like a few others I encountered, had to either substitute the back of the house for the front, as is the case here, or vice versa.

Other owners had no choice but to move their house back from the side of the new road because it was too close for comfort.

To the right of the main house, the extension that was added about five years ago is used today as the main entrance which opens up onto the kitchen.

The former occupants, I was told, did all their cooking in the dining room area.

                        .HF&RV......Cheers ! & Merry Christmas to you all,........   -Les

1 comment:

T Therrien said...

Thanks for this article and thrilled to see the old stone house photos from the book. I'm a descendant of Leonard Appolinaire Therrien who married Ida E.E Bruneau, the daughter of Dr. Orphire Bruneau, who was instrumental in establishing the Veterinary programa at Laval University and McGill.