Get a glimpse inside some magnificent buildings at Doors Open this weekend
By Liz Dadson

Home & Garden


If you want to see inside some of the area's most beautiful and architecturally-intricate buildings, get yourself a brochure for the fifth annual Doors Open event, slated for this weekend, Oct. 17-18, throughout the Municipality of Kincardine, including the former Town of Kincardine, Kincardine Township and Bruce Township.

You'll be able to wander through the Doll House at 860 Huron Terrace, Kincardine, which has a confusing history. Nobody is sure who built it but it was constructed in 1859 and Peter McDonald owned it until 1919 when it was acquired by James Geddes. He split the house in two, moving the northern section to the lot to the north and covering it with red brick.

If you were to put the two pieces together, the house would be a Georgian Revival style with simple eaves returns, a central front door with windows on either side - a typical three-bay facade. There would have been no gingerbread trim; that was added later, perhaps around 1885. The tower was added in 1919 and gives the structure a more arts and crafts or Queen Anne style.

The restoration of the Doll House was initiated by Betty Carter in 1981, the year after her husband died. She never slept in the house, although she kept her treasures there and held tea parties there. When she purchased the house, it was in terrible shape. She spent four years on the restoration, rebuilding, shoring up foundations, roofing, removing a 1930s sun porch, removing overgrown shrubbery, and installing a new heating system. For her, it was a labour of love.

Since then, every owner has honoured its integrity, loved its charm and enjoyed its livability. They have, as well, shared the structure with the community, opening it for events such as Heritage Kincardine's August House Tour and Doors Open Kincardine.

Chalmers Church

New on the tour is Chalmers Church, located on the 7th Concession of Kincardine Township, Fire #1016.
The church was founded in 1852 and services were held in the bush in open air with the congregation sitting on tree stumps. A small log structure was erected and as the church grew, it needed to expand. In 1877, a half-acre lot on the southwest corner of Lot 11 was chosen and the first church was built by the parishioners.

By 1900, the congregation needed a new church - a larger, brick one. A site was chosen in front of the old wood church and the cornerstone was laid on July 11, 1901. Construction continued all summer. However, a major wind/rain storm in August knocked the west wall down and damaged the joists and floors inside. The damage was repaired and the church opened before the snow flew in 1901.

The church has the austere sobriety of the Presbyterian construction but not the "gothic" appearance. Only the pointed arch windows allude to "gothic." The building is a rectangle, basilica shape with entrance on the small proportioned wall with the sanctuary at the opposite end. The front facade is flanked by two stalwart squat towers which form entrances. The centre portion is pierced by two sets of four openings and a set of three. The rectangular windows light the basement, the four, stained glass small "gothic" arch windows light the entrance to the church congregational area, and the three magnificent stained glass windows light the gallery at the rear of the church.
That there are two side aisles shows clearly that this is a reformation church built for preaching, not processing. The beautiful curved pews were made by Mr. Bradley who insisted on having a certain set near the front on the left of the altar near the pulpit. It turns out these were slightly more comfortable than the rest.

When the United Church was formed in 1925, Chalmers became United. But in 1989, the congregation decided to strike off on its own and become Congregational, and it remains so today.

Hack Farm

Right across the road is the Hack Farm, formerly the Chalmers Church Rectory. In 1881, a small portion of land on the northwest corner of Lot 11 was purchased from Charles Wickham of Tiverton and Kincardine, and the Chalmers Manse was erected, costing $700. The first resident was the Rev. John Stewart who had also served in Kincardine as the first minister at Knox Presbyterian Church in 1859.

It ceased to be a manse in the 1950s and the Mause family purchased it and the adjoining lots. They ran a large beef cattle operation. In 1982, Bernhard and Rosalinde Hack and their family came from the Black Forest area of Germany and purchased all the land and the house. Today the second generation continues to run this organic farming operation. Their two main crops are soybeans and millet - the latter is exported to Europe for the health food market. They also grow spelt (an ancient species of wheat which is rich in protein), rye, wheat, barley, flax, vegetables and fruit. They have planted 17,000 trees for wind breaks and a deep shelter belt for the barn, as well as a large orchard with various fruit trees.

The bake shop is fascinating. It was brought in its entirety, including the huge oven, from Germany where the family had a bakery. They operate it on a smaller scale in Canada. An addition to the south side of the house was built to accommodate all the equipment. Most of the finished bread is sold locally and one may order loaves. All the grains used in the bread are grown on the farm and ground in their own mill on the day of baking for the ultimate freshness.
The house is a typical farm-style structure. The barge board trim survives only on the west side of the house. Note the round-topped window in the front and west dormers and the crowning brick work. The house was renovated in the 1950s.

The barn was erected in 1959 by the Maus Brothers for their beef operation, accommodating 450-500 cattle. The original silo is 106-feet high. It took 6,000 bags of cement and 225 squares of steel for cladding. Today the barn houses beef cattle with their natural horns, holsteins for milk, goats, and of course, the barn cats.

The cairn in the yard is a memorial to Rosalinde and Bernard Hack, the founders of the Hack Farm.
Also on the Doors Open tour are: Bervie United Church, the Anglican Rectory at Bervie, Knox Presbyterian Church in Kincardine, Roseneath/Malcolm Place, The Walker House, Kincardine Library, Northern Light Lodge in Kincardine, The Coast FM, Pemberton Block/Condor Books, Royal Canadian Legion in Kincardine, the Pavilion Dance Hall, The Bruce/Leigh Home, the Malcolm/Beaton House, the old town hall and Victoria Park, the Bank House, the John Keyworth/Bruce/Prenger House, the Lime Kiln Resort in Inverhuron, the Gale/Mosolf Cabin in Inverhuron, the Gale Log Cabin in Inverhuron, the Thornburn House in Bruce Township, and the Job Carr House in Bruce Township.

Learn about the magnificent architectural beauty of these buildings and the stories about their past, by taking in the Doors Open event.

Command Central for Doors Open is Victoria Park Gallery, at the old town hall (Kincardine Arts Centre), where you can pick up the brochure and map, and head out to see the 25 buildings on the tour. Entry to all sites is free and be sure to sign the guest book at each site.
For more information, call 519-396-6060 or check the website at

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Monday, October 12, 2009