Ah, the readers have done it again! Today a comment came from Christina (who, like me, grew up in the Queensborough area, and who has deep roots here) that contained a most interesting idea. Christina has been doing some research in response to my recent post wondering about the origins of the ground-floor room at the Manse that is now the bathroom. (The issue being that in 1888, when the Manse was built, there were no indoor bathrooms. So what was that room originally used for?)
Christina did a simple and smart thing: she phoned her dad, who lives not far from here – he is the reeve of neighbouring Madoc Township – and whose grandparents (whom I remember from youngest childhood) lived in a house across the way from the Manse. And she asked him if he remembered the interior layout of the Manse’s first floor before the days of indoor plumbing.
And what Christina’s dad told her has struck a chord with me. He told her that as far as he can recall, the room that is now (and was in the 1960s, when I was a kid growing up in this house) the bathroom was, previously, the minister’s study.
That makes perfect sense to me. The bathroom is just inside the front door and directly off the kitchen, where back in the days of my childhood (and doubtless for all the years before that of the Manse’s existence), there was a wood stove that heated the house and served as its focal point. If that room had been the minister’s study, it would always have been warm, which would have been comfortable not only for him (it would always have been a “he” in those days) but also for any parishioners who came to see him. Meanwhile, those others who dwelt in the Manse (the minister’s wife and children) would have been able to hustle those visiting parishioners directly into the study once they were inside the front door, close the study door behind them, and resume regular life. And maybe the visitors wouldn’t even have had time to notice if there was a bit of dirt on the kitchen floor or dust on a shelf somewhere!
Yes, I have a good feeling about this study idea.
Which is not to say that I think our current bathroom should be returned to being a study; I thoroughly love the upstairs room that was my father‘s study when I was a kid, and that is now, in our day, still a study, a cozy room stuffed with books. The current bathroom will in all likelihood be turned into some combination of mud room/powder room/laundry room.
But I get huge satisfaction out of feeling that I might now have the solution to The Mystery of the Manse Bathroom. And I thank Christina (and her dad) for making me feel like Nancy Drew!