Tonight I feel like Nancy Drew.

This is me tonight, people! Do you recognize the Nancy Drew image? I must tell you that it’s a special (and rather cool) one: it’s a quilt! This photo comes from the blog Pieced Brain, which seems to be all about quilting and crafts. As I have confessed before, crafts give me hives, so I can’t pretend to understand it. But this homey version of Nancy feels just right for tonight as a mystery gets solved (I think) at the Manse. (Photo from

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!

Manse study with bookshelves

The current Manse study, upstairs. Probably my favourite room in this old house.

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!

10 thoughts on “Tonight I feel like Nancy Drew.

  1. I think you’ve solved it, Nancy, err, Katherine. When I had read your earlier posts, I wondered if that room had been a study at one time, or maybe even a small bedroom. It’s wonderful that you’re able to put together bits and pieces of information about the history of the Manse.

    And speaking of Nancy Drew, that takes me back to my childhood visits to the Madoc Public Library, where I loved borrowing mystery books. One of my childhood favourites was “The House on the Cliff”, with the Hardy Boys.

      • You’re very welcome, Katherine. Your post about Madoc Public Library is very interesting. It has me wishing I could see the interior as it looks now, since it was small and rather one-roomish when I visited. The staff were always so helpful, and interested in recommending books that young people might like to read. Speaking of books that kids would have loved, did you ever read any of the Freddy books (Freddy the Pig) when you were in public school? It is a set of books by Walter R. Brooks, about a farm where a group of talking animals interact with humans, in some amusing situations.

      • The Freddy books are great fun. If you can find “Freddy’s Cousin Weedly”, I think you’d like it. The writer worked for the New York Times and he certainly had a way of creating stories which intrigued little minds. You’ll see, when you read of Mrs. Wiggins (the cow) as Queen Elizabeth!

  2. (“little” minds — I meant “younger” minds, and those of us who like to think of ourselves as being young-at-heart!)

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