This Old House

When I first moved to Kilbride in the fall of 1982, one of the few landmarks besides the store, garage, the watering trough and the Church was Dr. McDonald’s house. It was always referred to as such. So when I was asked to write about some of the interesting homes in the area, I immediately chose it.

The house, located at 2095 Kilbride St. is actually Plan 13, Lot 5 and part of Lot 4. Originally the house was listed as being located on the north side of Thomas Street (Kilbride St.) and on the south side of Mary St. (this was never opened up). On July 8, 1855, William Panton and Francis Baker were listed as the official owners of the properties in Plan 13. On May 15, 1861 the property was registered to William G. Culloden and wife. It is interesting to note that for a long period of time, the wives were not named.

The property seemed to have a high turnover of owners. There were seven more owners before Dr. Hugh R. McDonald bought the property on May 19, 1927. According to the Assessment Office, the present house was built in approximately 1900. Dr. McDonald had his office in the house. There was a door on the east side of the house where the hexagon window is located. The door itself was half glass with a curtain. When you walked into the office it was rather small. There was a dark leatherette couch and some pressed back chairs. I was told some time ago that after Dr. McDonald’s death, those chairs were donated to the Church where they remain today. A former patient told me that the ceiling paint was always peeling in a few spots. As well, there was a hall tree for coats.

The Doctor’s office itself was behind the waiting room and was larger than the waiting room. Behind the office was a long narrow room where Dr. McDonald kept his medicines. He would fill small containers with medicines from larger ones kept in this room. There is a door from the office to the west that connects with the dining room. As well there is a door from the former supply room that connects with the kitchen.

Long-time resident of Kilbride, Mrs. Gertie McArthur, mentioned that when she would come to see Dr. McDonald at his office, often after the appointment he would open the door to the dining room and tell her to have a nice visit with Mrs. McDonald. Both Mrs. McArthur and Mrs. McDonald were organists at Kilbride United Church. The rooms used by Dr. McDonald for his practice are now the bedroom of the present owner’s oldest son. Mrs. McArthur also remembers visiting and sitting on the verandah. I asked her if it was screened in or open but she couldn’t remember. I believe she said it was just a verandah. Where you enter the house from the verandah there is a small foyer. There is a very interesting light fixture in this area that matches the dining room fixture.

From the foyer you walk into the dining room. It is evident that a lot of time was spent here. Mrs. McArthur remembers Dr. McDonald sitting at the dining room table watching the TV in the small sitting room directly behind and to the east of the foyer.

From the dining room you enter the kitchen at the back of the house. It has been upgraded and is bright and spacious. The door leading to the basement is a child’s delight. From the doorway you can see the original lath and plaster construction of the house. I will confess that I did not go down to the basement. It was rather dark and the original stone walls were visible. My children would just love a “scary” basement like that. On the opposite side of the basement stairs were the stairs to the second floor.

There are three bedrooms and a bathroom. In the master bedroom the clothes hooks on the back of the closet are very old. There is a chimney in the center of the house and a pipe hole and cover remain probably from a stove on the second floor. As well one of the bedrooms beside the chimney also has a chimney hole and cover although it does not connect with the chimney itself. One possible explanation may be that the pipes from the stove were exposed in the room to provide more heat. This was also done at Kilbride United Church with exposed pipes running the length of the Church above the windows to help heat the building. Also, some of the original floor grates in the house have survived the many owners.

Back on the first floor, behind the kitchen is a lovely sitting room complete with wood burning stove. The deck is accessible from this room. As well there is a breezeway to the double garage. Mrs. Beatrice Heatherington remembers that Dr. McDonald built the garage. The garage itself is made of tongue and groove boards beneath the siding. At the back of the garage is a most fascinating door. This door is approximately 8” thick and solid! The handle of the door is very heavy duty. I showed a photo of the door to Mrs. Heatherington and she seemed to think that the door could have come from her father’s store (Harris’ Store, located immediately to the south of the Kilbride Store on Cedar Springs Road). The door may have been the one from the store’s icehouse.

When the door is opened, there are two steps down into a storage room. Now, my imagination has a tendency to run wild. I can just imagine a few “X-Files” type uses for such a door. Actually when I first moved to the area I remember being told that there was an exceptionally large “freezer” in the garage. You can just imagine what the freezer was used for. The reality is probably more like the door was no longer needed. Perhaps the ice house was being dismantled and people of the area made use of anything they could.

Dr. McDonald’s house is unquestionably a beautiful building, certainly worthy of a prominent local doctor with its gracious rooms, its spaciousness (10’ ceilings both downstairs and upstairs) and its nooks and crannies.

Dr. McDonald’s House, Photographs by Linda Swance

Contributing Author: Helen Callaway

Source: Kilbride Chronicles, Issue 8, page 36
Transcribed by: Lyndsey Innes