Featured at the McMichael Autumn Art Sale, October 23-25, 2009
The McMichael Show opens at the end of this week. I will be at the Gallery from 6 -10 pm on Friday, October 23rd. I hope to see many of you there! The will be free parking on the opening night event. Details can be found on my website.
The Livingstone House
“Window Seat” (above) and the “Yellow Door” (below) are both from a derelict farm house near Bracebridge that was originally owned by a Scottish immigrant and carpenter, Neil Livingstone. Mr. Livingstone came to Muskoka in around 1861 at the age of 40 and died here of pneumonia in March of 1905 at the age of 84.
Neil Livingstone was a skilled carpenter and became a prominent contractor of public buildings in the Town of Bracebridge before the turn of the century. He was responsible for the original Registry Office in 1877 and for the completion of the Town Hall in 1881. Only the Tower from the original Town Hall remains today. Livingstone also won the contract for the completion of the Dominion Hotel. It is still standing, however, I am under the impression that only the main floor is in use. I would love to get a look at the upper floors!
Without looking at the records, there is mention of a building permit for a house on the Livingstone property in 1891. The 1879 Muskoka Atlas shows two building there previous. I am going to guess that they were a barn and a homestead and that the house built in 1891 is the one that stands today.
Looking at the architectural detail on the house, I was not surprised to discover Mr. Livingstone was a carpenter. There are very few rural homes in this area with such great attention to detail, a curved staircase with a complicated arched ceiling and stunning hardwood that is rock solid even after nearly 15 years exposed to the elements. Most farmhouses in this region were very basic and without much detail. Farming in Muskoka was often an impossible business due to the rocky terrain, so few would have had the wealth to build a brick house with so much elegant carpentry.
I have yet to make the trip to the Land Registry Office to determine who inherited the house in the early part of the last century. I am hoping to discover if Neil Livingstone had any children. There is no mention of them in local publications, nor mention of a wife. For me, there is a distinct female aura about the place. It makes me curious to know who else lived there before the farm was sold to commercial interests. That information should be in the next Newsletter in mid to late November.
I will be continuing my Muskoka Interiors series over the coming months. I plan to have another from the Fleger House by the end of November. New events, plans for 2010 and paintings will be in the November/December issue of my Newsletter. You can sign up to receive the newsletter here!