50 Derby Avenue, Vankleek Hill
This lovely home in the heart of Vankleek Hill has that heritage feeling the minute you set eyes on it!
A lovely entrance, beautiful living room with a grand piano and a lovely dining room just opposite. The homeowners love their space and love to entertain in this former doctor’s house. All original woodwork, doors and so much character!
Thanks to the Vankleek Hill and District Historical Society for the house history below!
House History ~ Construction 1901-1902
James Bertrand, a farmer and carpenter, purchased this lot with his wife Isabella in 1896. The house was constructed in 1901-1902.
It was accepted practice that living in a home of this size required daily domestic help. Heating with coal steadily produced dust which prompted cleaning and washing.
Note the flat roof, known as a hopper roof. It is slightly depressed and slanted to capture rainwater to be fed down a pipe to cisterns below. The first cistern on the upper level was used for flushing. The basement cistern was connected to a kitchen pump and the water used for washing and cleaning. Water preservation was necessary as each house relied on a well. Supplementing with rainwater helped avoid depleting well water.
The appearance of this house is softened by decorative porches at the front. It is one of the few houses in Vankleek Hill to have a covered second-storey gallery. The upper and lower porch walls are symmetrical: each has a sash window and an entry door with single light transom. The second-storey gallery has its original turned columns with hard-edge shoulders and a bead & barrel design, plus paper doll sawed-balusters. These balusters make use of negative space with a repeating pattern so that your eye is drawn to the cut-out space.
Note that both levels have decorative spandrels with vertical spindles and open-work details. The overhang of the eaves is supported by multiple hefty finished brackets.
From 1908, this was home for 34 years to Annie Clark MacPhee, widow of steamship Captain William Shaw MacPhee (1848-1908) who navigated large passenger ships on the St. Lawrence for the Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Company. It is notable that in 1913, this shipping firm became the Canada Steamship Lines.
This home has a long and continuing connection to music. Widow Annie MacPhee was the organist at Knox Presbyterian Church in Vankleek Hill for 13 years. Annie died at age 76 in 1942. Afterwards, her son Donald MacPhee operated a dental clinic from this home – the current living room. His wife, Lillias Catherine MacPhee, was the Knox organist and choir director for 22 years.
Hopefully, it is the music that will long be remembered in this home, and not the sound of the dentist’s drill.