Out of the blue, vintage fencing for the Manse

Fenceless Manse 2

Does this Manse need a vintage fence along the front of the property? I think it most certainly does! I have nothing against the front yard being open to the street, but a gorgeous fence from the first half of the last century would be a lovely touch. And it’s coming soon!

A very long time ago – less than a month after I began this blog, way back at the start of 2012 – I asked readers a question: Has anybody seen this fence? It was a plea for information on how a person (i.e. me) could track down vintage fencing of the type that I remember from my childhood here at the Manse in Queensborough: traditional page wire gussied up with decorative small metal maple leaves. To illustrate what I was talking about, I used a photo I’d found of a painting by Robert Bateman. That lovely painting will surely evoke nostalgia in anyone who, like me, grew up in rural Ontario in the middle of the last century. Here it is again:

Robert Bateman Maple Leaf Fence painting

Maple Leaf Fence, by superstar Canadian artist Robert Bateman.

A couple of years after that first mention of the maple-leaf fencing that I longed for, I did another post on the theme, having come upon a 19th-century farmhouse in Hungerford Township (the rural area south of nearby Tweed) that has that exact fencing along its front:

Maple Leaf fence, rural Hastings County

Many’s the time since I wrote the post that I’ve thought about dropping a note into the mailbox at that house, telling the owners that if ever they decided to do away with or replace their fence, to please give me a call and I’d gladly take it off their hands. I never followed through – mainly because the fence is so well-cared-for that I strongly suspect the owners love it as much as I do, and would, sensibly, not want to part with this nice piece of vintage Canadiana.

Maple leaf fence 2

A gate at a farm outside Queensborough that has some of the coveted maple leaves.

My desire for the maple-leaf fence has come up in a few other posts over the years, like here and here. But I was being realistic when I said this in one maple-leaf-fence-themed post:

“Truth be told, vintage fencing is pretty far down the list of priorities for the Manse. (A renovated kitchen to replace the tiny pantry being pretty close to the top. Followed by approximately 38,212 other things.) But as an eternal optimist, I hold out hope that it might happen someday.”

People, “someday” has arrived! I am thrilled to tell you that five-plus years and well over 1,000 blog posts since my first plea for help on finding vintage maple-leaf fencing, I have found my fencing.

Out of the blue a couple of weeks ago I received a brief note via Facebook Messenger:

“Hi Katherine – my name is Debbie and searching for maple leaf fencing on the internet led me to your blog. I have a roll (approx 40-50 ft) for sale. It is very old and I bought it as a project for my house (1832 log cabin) but I changed my mind and decided on cedar rail fencing instead. Would you be interested in purchasing it?”

Wow!

Would I be interested in purchasing it? I most certainly would! Forty to fifty feet is just about exactly the length we need for a fence along the front of the Manse property. Clearly this was meant to be.

Debbie was kind enough to send photos, which only made my heart beat faster:

Debbie's fence 2 Debbie's fence 1

So as you can probably guess, one day very soon Raymond and I are going to climb into his little red truck and take a drive that will end with us bringing home 40 or 50 feet of just the fence I’ve been wanting for the Manse. Life is good!

But I have to confess something. More than five years after I wrote that first plaintive plea for help in finding the fence that would match the one I remember being in front of the Manse in my childhood. I have come to the realization that – wait for it – my memory is almost certainly faulty. Here; you can judge for yourself:

Melanie and me at the Manse, 1965

That’s a photo of me (at right) and my sister, Melanie, in the gateway that once stood at the end of the flagstone path to the Manse’s front door. On either side of the gate is the fence. Which … does not have maple leaves on it. It is a plain page-wire fence.

So that fence memory that I treasure from my childhood must be from somewhere other than the Manse. I feel certain that the maple-leaf fence was somewhere in Queensborough or its immediate area – but I guess it wasn’t at the house I grew up in.

But who cares? The Manse may not have actually had that classic vintage fence once upon a time, but it should have. And now, I am delighted to say, it will.

Better late than never.

18 thoughts on “Out of the blue, vintage fencing for the Manse

  1. Katherine, I remember your first post well. I loved the idea of the maple leaf fencing so much that I mentioned it in my new pioneer novel Wildwood (coming in February 2018)! When my heroine inherits the old farmhouse in Alberta, she finds a garden gate with maple leaves across the top. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Hi John! Debbie’s in the Guelph area, so we’ll have a pleasant little red-truck tootle through Southern Ontario to pick up the fence. Mind you, the red truck, despite its cuteness, is not exactly a luxurymobile…

  2. Such a beautiful story…………. along with the heartwarming photos. Imagine the DNA on that fence and a hand on the gate visiting that beautiful home throughout life’s ups & downs. Well done!

  3. Katherine, our big brick house had the fence with the maple leaves, perhaps that is where you remember it from. Don says he remembers painting it at one time. There was the small gate and also the large gate to the north end of the fence so vehicles could get through to the back. I remember climbing on the fence (which we were not allowed to do) and getting my clothes caught on the points of the leaves. Also remember the young lads taking the big gate off and hiding it on Halloween. I am sure yours will look really nice when you get it up.

    • Barbara, now that you say that, I feel quite sure that it was indeed the maple-leaf fence at the Sager House that got mixed up in my long-ago memory with the fence at the Manse. I knew it had to be somewhere in Queensborough! I love your memory of getting your clothes caught on the maples leaves (which you were not supposed to be clambering on). Not to mention a very Queensborough-sounding Halloween prank – doubtless better than having the outhouse overturned! Hey: would Don like to come and help us paint our maple-leaf fence?? (Kidding!)

      • Oh wow! That makes we wonder if there’s any chance that the Robert Bateman painting of the maple-leaf fence that I referred to in my post all those years ago might have been inspired by the same one I’ve often admired just a bit west of Tweed. Wouldn’t that be something?

      • Wouldn’t that be something. The Robert Bateman book I have is titled Birds and the picture on page 72 of the house wren on the gate was from one of the original gates on the family farm. It doesn’t have the maple leaves on it and it is a cropped image so you can’t see if the fence beside it had maple leaves on it.

  4. Hello, well I must say I am glad you have this blog. I just the other day bought some hardware at an auction and in among the assorted hardware was a jar containing 27 antique cast iron maple leaves that I had absolutely no idea where they came from. After hours of searching on the internet I finally came across your post for the Maple Leaf Fence and there they were, I guess at some point someone clipped the leaves off of a fence somewhere and kept them for a project. Now to decide what to use them for now that I know what they were used for.

    • Hi Pat! Wow – as a fellow auction aficionado I am so happy for you having snagged those old maple leaves from vintage Canadian fencing. What a find! And I am delighted that you were able to find out something about them thanks to Meanwhile, at the Manse. That’s what I’m here for! (Or at least, that – “that” being serving as a place to exchange information on interesting vintage Ontario stuff – is one of the things I’m here for.) I hope you’ll let me know when you decide what to do with this wonderful acquisition!

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