What a wintry day it has been for the middle of April! Raymond and I passed through several squalls of snow and hail as we drove to Queensborough from Montreal, and it was freezing (as in 0 Celsius) when we got here. (Fortunately warmer weather is predicted for the rest of the week.)
But anyway, I mention the cold because of course the Manse needed warming up when we got here. The first thing I do when we arrive (in the cold months, anyway) is turn the thermostat up from its Raymond-and-Katherine-aren’t-here setting of about 11C, cranking it to 20 (that’s about 70 for you Fahrenheit-oriented readers). The good old furnace kicks in within seconds, and the Manse’s downstairs is toasty right quick – like, in less than 10 minutes.
Ah, but upstairs is another matter altogether. This house was built in 1888, before central heating. The heat came from wood-burning stoves (I assume; I suppose coal could have been used, but since we are surrounded by woodland I think that unlikely) whose heat was moved throughout the house thanks to a system of stovepipes. What you see in the photo with this post is a reminder of those days: the round pie-plate-type thing on the wall of our bedroom covers the place where once a stovepipe that ran across the top of the room connected to a chimney.
When I was growing up here at the Manse in the 1960s, we still had those stovepipes running through many of the rooms, and the wood stove to warm them. The system worked beautifully, if you don’t count the occasional small chimney fire. (No damage; don’t worry.)
Alas, I guess residential stovepipe systems are a thing of the past. (A fire hazard, you say? What the?!?!) The Manse’s is long gone.
The problem is this: because the stove and stovepipes could be counted on in former times to warm the whole house, not much thought was given to heating vents when things were modernized to allow for an oil furnace. There are several vents downstairs at the Manse, but in the whole rambly second floor there are only two, at opposite ends of the house (and, I might add, neither of them in or even particularly near the master bedroom).
So you see where I’m going with this: while our Manse very quickly turns from chilly to cozy on the ground floor when the furnace is turned up, the upstairs takes a LOT longer. It’s cold up there for at least a couple of hours after we arrive.
How I long for the days when one could walk in the door, kindle a fire in the old Findlay stove, and have the house – the WHOLE house – warm in no time.
Do you suppose there’s any hope for a Bring Back Stovepipes campaign?