The historic home is one of the oldest in the village — operating first as a manse
Tuesday, November 1, 2022
Jeannette and Rene Bosman are returning one of the oldest homes in Lanark village back to its former glory as a family residence.
Jeannette said being able to save and restore a historical Lanark landmark, when others, including the old Kitten Mill, have fallen into severe disrepair makes the project even more special.
The exterior of the Bosmans’ home. This will be the front entrance. Evelyn Harford/Metroland
“That is a legacy that’ll live on,” she said. “This house isn’t going anywhere. It’s been here 190 years.”
The stone home has been gutted to create a dream home for the couple.
Interior of the gutted home. Evelyn Harford/Metroland
“It’s a labour of love,” said Jeannette. “This is our town. We don’t want to retire anywhere else.”
Sitting atop a hill, you can still see churches from the house — a reminder of its religious origins.
St. Andrew’s United Church can be seen from the home. Evelyn Harford/Metroland
The home was built in the early 1830s as a manse for Scottish Rev. William McAllister. It remained in that family until it passed to the Catholic Church until 1946.
Seventy-six years ago, George S. Young bought the property and opened Young Funeral Home. In 1975, Blair and Son Funeral Home bought the business and building. It was used as a satellite office and continued to operate under the Young Funeral Home name to honour what Young had built. Wakes and funerals were held in the home until 2013.
Jeannette Bosman holds out a floor plan for the home. Evelyn Harford/Metroland
The home’s unique history and beautiful bones drove the Bosmans to purchase it this March after they sold Providence Point — a retreat they’d owned and operated since 1998.
When the couple were looking for a new place last December, there weren’t a lot of options.
Jeannette said when they saw a dumpster outside the former funeral home while driving to the apartment building they own in Lanark village, the couple decided to reach out.
“We hadn’t heard of any funerals here in forever, I said to Rene ‘What do you think?’” said Jeannette.
On Christmas Eve last year, the couple went to view the property and Jeannette fell in love, despite a past that might have dissuaded others.
The upstairs of the home is gutted. Evelyn Harford/Metroland
“Everybody passed through, and their lives were celebrated here,” said Jeannette. “This is actually a good place. We want to celebrate the history. The house is more than the history of death. Death is a part of life and we shouldn’t be afraid of it.”
Jeannette, Rene and their 14-year-old son, with the help of tradespeople, have stripped the home to the stone walls on the interior and exterior.
“Me and the crowbar have been good friends,” she said.
Horsehair insulation, top, and the old boiler in the basement. Evelyn Harford/Metroland
Through the demolition, the building’s history has been peeled back.
What the couple was able to salvage from the building, they will incorporate into the renovation to honour the home’s history.
“We want to tie the old in with the new,” she said.
Jeannette recalls pulling out thousands and thousands of nails from the lath and plaster walls — a reminder of the love put into the home’s construction.
The home has been stripped to the stone walls inside. Evelyn Harford/Metroland.
“It actually saddens me to take all that lath and plaster off the walls,” said Jeannette. “The work they had to do to even make all those tiny little nails. Somebody has put some major hours into that.”
An old cigarette carton and keys were found. Photos of the ambulance brigade from the First World War were discovered in the attic.
Reminders of the funeral home were also found.
A Victorian funeral carriage, which is owned by Blair and Sons, still rests in the adjacent outbuilding. A home for the piece of history is being sought.
Funeral carriage owned by Blair and Sons. Evelyn Harford/Metroland
The couple hope the home will be ready for them and their youngest son to move in by next Christmas — two years from when they decided to buy the property.
Future plans for the building, in addition to its use as a private residence, are still in discussions.
To follow along with the renovation, visit the Bosmans’ Instagram account @bosmanestate. If anyone has information about the history of the home, contact them through Instagram.