Bruce [Buzz] Boles and Lori Gilbert purchased this property in 2005 and completely renovated the building in 2007-8. Buzz was a retired wildlife biologist and later an Ottawa civil servant and Lori operated various retail businesses. Buzz was also Chair of the Historical Society which began in 2008 and which has plans to build a major museum in Portland several years down the road.

The house was originally built by John Haw, stone smith, [buried in the Philipsville graveyard] and lived in by his family until the early 1940’s when he and his wife died. Others succeeding to the house included the Polks, store owners on the main street and caretaker/guide at Col. By Island [then called Long Island], followed by a retired air force mechanic [Agopogowitz..called Pogo…..who operated a sign painting business from the front porch] and then next was Buzz & Lori.

The original plan for the house had a kitchen along the entire west side with a narrow staircase going to the second floor; a centre main bearing wall on the ground floor running north-south and a front living room with a rear room [possibly a bedroom or parlor]. Upstairs a central north-south bearing wall placed two bedrooms on the north side and on the west side was a large stair landing with some early washroom facilities. The basement is made of stone blocks carved by John Haw the stone smith.

A renovation was completed in January 1953 by carpenter Ernest Hanna [who probably lived at 24 Perth Street]. When tearing out the living room walls in 2007 we found on the back of a doorway rosette block, in pencil, the signatures and dates consecutively of John Haw Oct 1892 and Ernest Hanna Jan 1953. John had originally put it on the rosette block and Ernest had found it and added his name and put it back up in place. It was saved for posterity as an artifact during the 2007 renovations. This attested to the previous builder and later renovating carpenter.

In 2006 Buzz built a workshop building behind the house. In August 2007 a complete renovation of the house was begun by Buzz & Lori. The house was gutted completely from basement floor to inner roof peak and a new roof flat top & vents put up. From the inside one could see the inside of the clapboards all around! The metal shingle roof [approximately 75 years old] was in good shape and kept. Original outer studding in the balloon framework was kept and 2×4 studs on edge added to make a wall approx. 8 inches thick and then well insulated, re-wired and re-plumbed. A major new structural feature added was the insertion of two large steel bearing beams at each level to support the open concept and spanning and supporting the floor joists. New windows were placed throughout. The attic area was also prepared for future finishing and living. A new furnace and air exchange system was also installed. Plans were prepared for an addition to the house as an expansion of the living quarters to replace the old horse barn attached at the rear. A doorway was framed then buried in the wall in the NE corner of the living room in thought of a future expansion. Maple floors were laid in the bedroom and bamboo floors put down on the main floor.

Specialist contractors such as roofers, electricians and cupboard manufacturers were involved but much of the carpentry and floors and doorways, stairs etc was completed by Buzz. Scot Weber assisted extensively in the tear out prior to the start of renovations.

While tearing out the old interior ceilings and wall coverings a few items of interest were found. Over the front door buried in the wall there was an old horse shoe; a lathe cutting saw was found in one spot and under the floor three large old pennies, the oldest 1891, turned up. When the bedroom ceiling was pulled down a small cache of letters and pictures were found. This helped identify which Haw’s lived here and where they went in later life. Also included in the cache were two construction supply quotes from 1891 for the materials to build the house. One was for the lumber and one was for the windows. The lumber quote is shown above. Also, a box of Polk Store accounting bills from the 1950’s was found in the attic of the summer kitchen/back shed.

So…that is the story of the buildings located at 22 Perth Street, Portland as far as we know.

– Buzz Boles

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Edith Seward(Polk)

Hi Buzz and members of PRHS I am so thrilled to be a part of this very worthwhile endeavour. As we all age(especially us boomers) we ask ourselves. “Will anyone even remember me when I am gone?” Now I must say that anyone who knows me that you talk to would say I am unforgettable. Well, I am just thrilled that this organization has come to fruition and is now a reality. Portland and The Big Rideau and its residents will now be remembered ! This is a wonderful thing. Portland has sometimes always been the little village that couldn’t.… Read more »

Laurie MacPherson

I have enjoyed reading about my grandparents home and learning about everything that was discovered in the house. I think that is really nice to have it made as part of Portlands heritage. I was wondering if there was any thought in restoring the house back to it’s original form (when the Polks owned it) before Mr.Boles done all the renovations. I’m just remembering how it looked and I think it would have been nice if it could have been saved as the Polk homestead and declared a museam or something.

Laurie MacPherson – Marie Polks Daughter