Monday, August 8, 2011

THIS OLD MONEY PIT


There seems to be a bit of confusion as to the age of the old house that our family has occupied since 1993. Pioneers and Progress, the History of Kipling and District (1882-1998), state that Dr. Sylvere and Maria Falardeau built this house in 1920. The Town of Kipling’s assessment says that it was built in 1919. Chances are that the house was started in 1919 and completed in 1920 but, regardless, this place is old.
I believe that we are the fifth family to occupy this residence over the past 92 years. Throughout that time every previous owner of the house had added their own adjustments and renovations and by the time we were ready to buy it the realtor’s favourite adjectives, and the prospective buyer’s red flag words-“character home” and “potential” were being used for the property.
However, we loved the old place and we moved in while we were doing the first and, until now, the biggest renovation job of the past eighteen years. I can recall stripping away the years and years of decades-old fashion from the living room walls as layer after layer of gaudy wall paper and interesting paint colours came off revealing each era’s taste in home decorating. Stripping the old “battleship linoleum” off of the kitchen floor was a chore that would more closely resemble a form of punishment than a handyman’s task but, in the end, the finished product was worth the effort.
There were many modern conveniences added to the house over the years but there are still some of the original fixtures in use, too, like some of the upstairs light fixtures, the second floor bedroom doors with their original locks, the banisters and of course the maple hardwood flooring. The old place creaks and groans and sometimes the cross breezes make the old doors rattle in the too-loose locksets giving more “character” to this old “character home”.
This year, in an effort to offset our carbon imprint and to lessen our huge monthly contributions to SaskEnergy and SaskPower’s profit margins, we decided that we would install new windows, siding and upgrade the insulation. Well, upgrade is a bit of a misnomer as there would have had to have been some insulation in the walls to make it an upgrade. I don’t think you can “upgrade” from nothing or the .00001 R value of the scant wood chips and horsehair that was supposedly passing for insulation in our exterior walls. Until now, a wintertime infra-red picture of this old house would have revealed a great big red glowing ball.
During the most recent visit from my Mom she reminded me of the coincidental fact that back in 1970 it was in this very house that she and Dad were invited to dine with then owners D. A. (Alex) and May Cunningham. That spring Mom and Dad had come to Kipling for Dad’s interview with Kipling United Church’s Official Board, of which D.A. was the Chair, for the minister’s position at the Kipling-Windthorst Pastoral Charge. In spite of D.A. and Dad’s politically opposed viewpoints their theological opinions meshed and D.A. greatly influenced Dad in accepting the position and they remained good friends from that day on. Obviously Dad took the position and he, Mom and the last three of their brood of nine moved to Kipling and the rest, as they say, is history.

“Old houses mended,
Cost little less than new before they ’re ended.”- Colley Cibber, The Double Gallant, Prologue; English actor & dramatist (1671 – 1757).

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