(Above: Boyd House on a December night in the early 2000’s. Archival photo.)
EDITOR’S NOTE: This series on Boyd House, an old stone farmhouse on Huntmar Drive, originally appeared a year ago on OttawaStart.com. We’re updating and republishing the original research over the next few weeks on StittsvilleCentral.ca. Photos and research by Glen Gower.
The Boyd House property in its present state is in rough shape. The grounds are overgrown with weeds and trees and bushes. The two barn structures have collapsed. The house is structurally sound but cosmetically in very poor shape. The roof looks like it needs replaced. Windows are boarded up. The white trim is now a dull grey. The chimneys are crumbling.
The current owner, Bob Karam, let me visit the property in December 2013. He’s cut off power and heat and water to the house. There’s garbage and graffiti inside the house, and no matter what he does to secure it, trespassers manage to find a way in.
The house has seen better days.
Here’s what the property looked like in the 1950’s. The Boyd House with the distinct red roof is in the lower part of the photo. It must have been a busy working farm. The barn on the right side of the image is the oldest building, dating back to the 1870’s.
The original owners of the land were the Burroughs. Don Francis, a descendant of the Burroughs shared this information:
My 5x great-grandfather, John Burroughs obtained N1/2, Lot 1, Concession 1 Huntley (about 100 acres) in 1822 and settled with his 6 children. After the great fire of 1870 which burned down the original log home, my 3x great-grandfather, James Burroughs and his wife, Sarah Jane (nee Alexander) sold the lot on Sept 24, 1872 to James Boyd for $4,000 ($2,000 down and a $2,000 mortgage). The sale was witnessed by Nicholas Sparks, who was John Burroughs’ business partner and family lawyer. James and family moved to Elma Township and then in 1897 to homestead in the Thundercreek/Dropmore, Manitoba area.
The Great Fire on August 17, 1870 destroyed homes and land from Smiths Falls to Carleton place to Nepean. Only a few buildings in Stittsville survived. John Francis (Don’s son) tells us that reclaimed wood from the Burroughs log house (scorch marks and all) was used to build the old barn. It was restored in the 1980’s and remained standing until at least September, 2013. It’s now collapsed.
As for the house, family oral history says it was built in 1887 by a Scottish stone mason using stone quarried from further west on Hazeldean Road, near where the Rona is today. Boyd House is one of several stone buildings still standing today in the same area of Stittsville. A house belonging to the Hartins on Maple Grove Road was built a year earlier by the same mason, and has a very similar architectural style and layout.
Pictured above is the house on Maple Grove Road and the Boyd House on Huntmar is pictured below. Built by the same stone mason, they are clearly “sister houses”. The Maple Grove house has an interesting history itself, on land owned continuously by the Hartin family from the 1820’s until around 2000. Beattie Hartin was the last Hartin to own it. Nobody lives there anymore.
There’s another stone house from the same timeframe, known as Hartin House, about one kilometer to the South on Hazeldean Road. It’s now the Winds of Change Day Spa. Across the street from it on Hazeldean there’s Cabotto’s restaurant. It was built in 1868 as “Kemp’s Tavern”. I bet the same Scottish stone mason built this one as well.
The Boyd house is built as “stone veneer”, with 16-inch stones and heavy pine planking contributing to the stability of the house. A City of Ottawa report on the heritage qualities of the house notes that:
The Boyd House is a one-and-a-half-storey wood frame structure with heavy log beams and interior planking faced with 12 inch rough cut limestone. It has an irregular floor plan, creating two distinct wings, and a steeply pitched gable roof. The rough cut-limestone walls are accented with white wooden trim that includes pendants, bargeboard and brackets on the front veranda. The house also features stone quoins, decorative chimneys and segmental arched windows with stone voussoirs and window sills.
The Boyd House is a good example of the Gothic Revival style, which was very popular in Canada for domestic architecture from the 1860s until 1900. Primarily a rural building type, these houses were published in pattern books that were widely available throughout the province and were frequently the second house built by early settlers, replacing the more rudimentary log houses built as their first houses.
The original stone house was about 1,700 square feet, and an 1,200 square foot wood addition was added in 1984. With that addition, the home became quite large: five bedrooms upstairs, an old bedroom converted into a large bathroom, one bathroom upstairs and a powder room downstairs. The lower level included a large kitchen and spacious living room/dining room, and an office in the original part of the home. The addition included a dining room/sun room and family room.
(Note how the details on the design of the addition – doors, windows, etc. – closely match the original features of the house.)
As you can see from this aerial shot and the following photos from the early 2000’s, the buildings and grounds were kept in immaculate condition. This is what real estate agents like to call “pride of ownership”. The Doutriaux family owned the property for over 20 years beginning in the 1980s, and ran it as a hobby farm.
Finally, the old barn.
It was raised by the Boyd’s in 1901, probably with help from their neighbours on farms nearby. I bet the Hartins had a hand in its construction.
The barn had a unique cuppola (a small dome-like structure) on top, which is unusual for barns.
This “newer” barn, like the original log barn, was intact up until at least September, 2013. It’s collapsed too.
NEXT IN THIS SERIES: A look inside Boyd House
PREVIOUSLY: Who were James and Jane Boyd?
Sources used to research this story include: