The Comox Valley is fast becoming known as an ideal destination for century-old heritage homes and last week, the third such home in under a year arrived on a barge before being trucked to its new lot in Buckley Bay.
The Ellerslie is a Victorian farmhouse built in 1897 for John Jardine, who served as Liberal MLA for Esquimalt from 1907 to 1912, and his wife. The two reportedly inhabited the house together until 1937, when Jardine died. His wife lived on there until 1940, at which time it is believed that the Department of National Defense took possession of the home.
It has since been used for a number of purposes, but never again as a single family home – until now.
“It’s quite a grand home inside, with 10-foot ceilings and four fireplaces” said new owner Ben Ford, who plans to move into the Ellerslie with his wife Jen and their four daughters. “We just fell in love with it.”
The Fords purchased the 116-year-old home from house-moving company Nickel Bros. It’s the second house the pair have moved to the Comox Valley and the sixth that they have moved in their lives.
Last July they moved a house, built in 1915, from Vancouver to Union Bay. Though the Fords have made a business out of moving, renovating, and selling heritage homes they had planned to stay in the Union Bay house for the long run, but when they laid their eyes on the Ellerslie, that all changed.
“We love the house that we’re in in Union Bay, but we have four girls. It has become too tight. The new house is quite a bit larger,” said Ford.
Once renovated, the four-bedroom home will be over 3,000 square feet and the lot that it’s situated on is large as well.
Jim Connelly of Nickel Bros. said it’s no wonder the Fords want to live in the Ellerslie.
“It’s a beauty,” he said. “It’s just a really elegant building.”
But despite it’s charm the home was no longer wanted by DND, which contracted a company to demolish it. Instead, the demolition company called Nickel Bros.
“Every once in a while they see one and say, ‘This is probably one that Nickel Bros. should look at,’” he said. Nickel Bros. was able to work with DND to buy some time to find a buyer for the new home to save it from being demolished.
“We almost lost this one a couple of times because it just wasn’t lining up,” said Connelly. Though there were a number of offers on the house, the Fords were lucky enough to find a suitable property that could accommodate the large home. What would normally take months – locating the lot, getting the proper permissions, arranging the move and getting the financing in place – was completed in just two weeks because DND was in a hurry to free up the land.
Once all of the administrative work was out of the way, the move itself went smoothly and despite some minor difficulty getting the large building over a wet, mushy field in Victoria, the house arrived in good shape.
“The public is really behind this,” said Connelly, who added that people are generally very good-natured about inconveniences such as power outages and road closures because many of them are in favour of diverting houses from landfills.
Both Ford and Connelly agreed that saving the Ellerslie was a group effort aided by people and organizations from all across the Island.
Read more from the Comox Valley Echo
© Copyright 2013