An old photograph sheds new light

A view of the Manse, probably sometime in the late 1920s. From left to right, Eileen Parker, her father, The Rev. William Parker, and his parents, Martha and Simon Parker. (Photo courtesy of Ruthanne Deline)

A very tough day at work today was brightened immeasurably by an email from Ruthanne Deline, whom I spoke of in a post a couple of days ago. Ruthanne grew up in Queensborough, and her maternal grandfather, The Rev. William Parker, was at one time the minister of St. Andrew’s United Church and thus a resident of the Manse. She sent all kinds of interesting information about her family and their history in the area – including the fact that the farm where she grew up was the one that I remember as the home of Merv and Dorothy Lees and their family. It’s a very nice spot a bit west of Queensborough – an attractive old brick farmhouse and very tidy garden, grounds and barn. I bet it was a happy place to grow up for Ruthanne and her four older brothers. (Boy, I bet she got a lot of attention as the youngest and the only girl!)

Ruthanne also sent what to me is an absolute treasure: a photo of her grandfather, her Aunt Eileen (as a little girl) and her great-grandparents in front of the front porch of the Manse, taken probably in the late 1920s. It is extremely interesting to me to see what has changed and what has not with the house. What is most interesting by far is the little porch, or portico, that you can see in front of the “real” front door, at the right. I put “real” in quotation marks because while it was (and I guess is) the official front entrance to the Manse, nobody ever used it in our day, and I wonder if people did even in The Rev. Parker’s time. That section of the house, which contains the living room (perhaps called the parlour then) and the front stairs (as opposed to the back stairs off the kitchen) was almost certainly the area where the minister would see parishioners and conduct church business (as some people, notably Elaine Kapusta and Sandra Sinclair, pointed out in comments on a post where I wondered about about why there are two staircases), so maybe people did indeed use it.

You can see in the bricks above and beside the “front” door of the Manse (the door at right) the shape of the long-gone portico.

Today, you can see the outline of the little porch on the brick around that front doorway. I never thought anything about it when we lived there in the 1960s and ’70s, but now that Raymond and I are the proud owners, and both of us being interested in history and heritage architecture, I’ve been ever so curious about what that structure looked like. And now I know! All thanks to a nice person with a strong Queensborough connection who, until a few days ago, I didn’t even know.

Isn’t it amazing how things come together? As Ruthanne said in her email to me: “I … strongly believe that things happen for a reason.” I concur.

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