(An amalgam extracted from Joan Finnigan's book: "Some of the stories I told you were true", based on interviews
with Norma Hall (Daniel McClachlin's grand daughter) and Edgar Burwash (Great-grandson of George Usborne).
|Edgewood, a great
romantic, rambling, Victorian frame house at Arnprior was originally
built for George Usborne, one of the earliest timber barons of the
Ottawa Valley who settled at Portage du Fort. It became the summer place
of the McLachlin dynasty.
The house had lovely verandas, hammocks, plants, trellises and then there was a terrace just off the veranda and you looked down into the garden with its clipped shaped cedar trees. Originally, when George Usborne was here they had a vinyard. We ended up with grape trellises. On both sides of the paths there were grapevines. The Usbornes intended it to be a vinyard and rose gardens.
It was a big house, very big, three stories with a cupola. They said it took eighty five tons of coal a year to heat it, just to keep it from deteriorating because it was empty most of the time. A very big living room with a fireplace of white marble with black trim, opened onto verandas; it went right across the length of the house facing towards the lake. Then a small sort of den, facing the road. On the other side of the entrance was a great big double room. It wasn't a library -- far too big for that but absolutely paneled with book-cases. It opened into the conservatory; another archway opened into the dining room facing out on to the lawns. Behind it was a children's dining room where I always ate with my governess. The flower room was across the passage with sinks and baskets and vases. The under gardeners would bring in great baskets of flowers. Mother would go in and arrange all the flowers for the whole of the house. The pantry was the room where all the silver and china and crystal was kept. Another great big room was the servants dining room where they had their meals. Behind that was the kitchen with a huge old range and the laundry with just ordinary tubs and a wringer. The poor creatures who did the laundry just had to scrub. Those rooms were immense. Upstairs the master bedroom looked over John Street; but the spare room was the most beautiful room of all, looking over the water, with a little alcove sitting room and a balcony over the stairs. My bedroom looked out over the lake.
Behind there were work sheds and an ice-house. I remember standing at the door and looking in at all the cakes of ice packed in sawdust. There was a huge rough wood table in the sheds and that is where the vegetables were brought in from the garden and scrubbed and cut up. There was a big vegetable garden --strawberries and asparagus. All year long when we lived in Ottawa we would receive by train every week fresh vegetables from the garden at Edgewood, eggs packed in water glass and, all winter long potatoes and turnips. I remember so vividly our boxes arriving from Arnprior. They used to send chickens down as well.
Edgewood wasn't a farm as such, but we did have cows and lots of horses.
There was a great big stable with loose boxes, harness room, feed room
and box stalls. The servants' quarters were over the back wing. There
were some pokey little rooms, four or five of them and a bathroom and
back stairs. There were upstairs maids and downstairs maids, no butler
that I recall, but a coachman and gardeners and stable men. I remember
the gunroom: racks of guns and rows of stuffed animals and birds brought
back from hunting trips. When nobody was around we used to sneak up to
the lookout and use the telescopes to look at the stars.
The McLachlins did not go bankrupt as everyone seems to think. The timber limits just ran out and they just went quietly downhill with spending money. The house was simply torn down because after the decline nobody could afford to maintain it. The Edgewood grounds have now become the Robert Simpson Park.