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home of the week

Maddox Media

51 Percy St., Colborne, Ont.

Asking Price: $1.2-million

Taxes: $2,776.00 (2021)

Lot Size: 1.77 acres

Agent: Jacqueline Pennington, Re/Max Hallmark First Group Realty Ltd.

The backstory

The red-brick Victorian farmhouse on Percy Street is a local landmark in the small town of Colborne, Ont., says Shannon Hamilton, who has grown up in the house her parents purchased 21 years ago.

“It’s a true historical home but it’s one that people know about locally,” Ms. Hamilton says of the property with a rustic barn and period coach house.

The township heritage association, Heritage Cramahe, describes the house as one of the finest examples of the Gothic revival cottage in the area. The group points to the steep gable on the front façade and the tall and graceful Regency-style windows in a three bay layout.

  • Home of the Week, 51 Percy St., Colborne, Ont.Maddox Media

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Colborne is located on the shore of Lake Ontario in Northumberland County. For many thousands of years, Indigenous peoples were stewards of the land. Northumberland County is located on the Mississauga Anishinaabek territory and is the traditional territory of the Mississauga.

Many of the first European settlers in the area were United Empire Loyalists who received land grants from the British Crown.

During the early 1800s, the vacant land known today as 51 Percy St. passed through several owners.

Local records do not pinpoint the year the house was built, but Heritage Cramahe says it likely dates to the period between 1862 and 1871.

The wide front porch with Doric columns may have been built at the time or might have been a later addition, Heritage Cramahe says.

The house is also included in the Illustrated Historical Atlas of Counties Northumberland and Durham, Ont.

Ms. Hamilton was in elementary school when she moved from Unionville, Ont., to Colborne with her parents, Kathryan O’Malley Hamilton and John Hamilton.

“For our house, it was love at first sight,” Ms. Hamilton says. “I don’t think we even looked at other houses.”

Mr. Hamilton says the couple decided to move closer to the extended family following his wife’s retirement from teaching. The couple had never owned a heritage home before but Ms. O’Malley Hamilton knew she wanted to live there as soon as they walked in the door.

“Once she saw the staircase, she said ‘let’s buy the house,’” he recalls. “It was a signed deal then.”

The house today

The large primary bedroom has a fireplace and skylights above.Maddox Media

The Hamiltons have preserved the character of the house, starting from the covered porch and heavy wood front door.

Inside, previous owners refurbished the delicate spindles and handrail of the Victorian staircase, which had been painted black, Ms. Hamilton says.

The principal rooms have high ceilings, tall baseboards and wood trim around the windows.

“The craftsmanship is really outstanding,” says Ms. Hamilton, who moved back to Colborne after studying visual arts at York University.

Only a handful of windows in the house are new, she adds, with the others containing glass with waves and bubbles typical of a century home.

A formal living and dining room each have French doors. Ms. Hamilton says a large window In the living room is a sunny place to sit for morning coffee on a winter’s day. In milder weather, family members carry their coffee through the French doors to the porch.

Previous owners added a family room at the rear of the house, with a large primary bedroom above.

The kitchen has wood cabinets, built-in wall ovens and skylights above.

Ms. Hamilton says the layout provides a nice flow for entertaining.

“We had a lot of family gatherings here. On New Year’s Day, we had just moved in and we had about 70 people here for dinner,” she says.

Doors open to porches on either side of the family room so that the residents can choose the most comfortable place to relax, depending on the time of day.

Upstairs, the large primary bedroom has a fireplace and skylights above. Two additional bedrooms on that floor have sloped ceilings and wood-trimmed windows.

There’s also a cozy reading nook on the landing at the top of the stairs.

The main bathroom has a claw foot tub, sloping ceilings and rose-patterned wallpaper.

The family turned a large, walk-in closet into a second, more modern bathroom with a walk-in shower.

Throughout the house, large windows and skylights bring in added light and air.

“The light and the energy is very lovely,” Ms. Hamilton says.

Although the house is historic, the property is not designated under heritage regulations. For the Hamilton family, it was important to conserve the property and its original details in order to keep the integrity of the home.

Outside, a horseshoe driveway that wraps around the house is a reminder of the days when the residents would drive a horse-and-buggy into town.

The Hamiltons enjoyed spending time in the garden and puttering around the house but now they are looking to downsize.

“My mom was especially a very gifted gardener,” Ms. Hamilton says.

Mr. Hamilton is head waiter at Barberian’s Steak House in downtown Toronto. Approaching retirement now, he has been with the well-known restaurant for nearly 40 years.

Before the pandemic brought on-and-off closures to the industry, he made the drive to Yonge and Elm streets most days of the week. Because he works nights, he can avoid driving in rush hour, he adds.

On his days off, the house in Colborne is a tranquil place to rejuvenate.

“I don’t mind getting on the lawn mower for a couple of hours and shutting the world out.”

In addition to the expansive lawn, there’s a stream and mature woodland. For Ms. Hamilton, the stream and woods were great places for exploring, with family pets along for the adventure.

“When we moved here, we got my first dog.”

Ms. Hamilton, who grew up playing hockey in town, says the community has grown in recent years but it remains close-knit.

“It’s definitely a different pace of life,” she says.

The best feature

Maddox Media

The weathered barn, with a single, uncut 48-foot beam to support the rafters, still has visible antique nails, Mr. Hamilton says. There’s also a coach house, which is now used as a garage and workshop.

Ms. Hamilton says the family often wonders about the farm’s earlier inhabitants and how they built such a sturdy barn, for example.

“Outbuilding like ours are meant to last,” Ms. Hamilton says. “It’s fun to imagine how things came to be.”

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