The Way We Were
The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the August 05, 2009 issue. Reprinted with permission.
Sherrin cottage - a Kirk's Ferry landmark
by Louise Schwartz
A handsome cottage sits perched above the Gatineau River at Kirk's Ferry, just north of Selwyn Point. Known to locals as the Sherrin cottage, it provides a landmark to sailors from the nearby yacht club at Gleneagle.
This distinctive cottage is crowned with a silver-painted pressed steel roof that glistens in the early eastern sun. It embraces a wide cantilevered verandah on the main level that hangs almost perilously over the river some 20 feet below. An intimate balcony for two on the second story overlooks a south eastern view of the river and hills. Its woodwork is painted a deep grey, complemented by white trim.
What is the story behind this waterfront summer home? Would readers be surprised to learn that it was originally landlocked, with the railway line and local road between it and the Gatineau River? In fact, in about 1922 when Philip and Eta Sherrin, both transplanted Brits, had this cottage built it was high on a hill and required a long set of steps to reach. The property also included a small phosphate mine last worked in about 1890, and described by Donald Hogarth in Volume 25 of "Up the Gatineau!", published by the Gatineau Valley Historical Society.
Just four years later, in 1926, the Gatineau Power Company's hydroelectric project on the Gatineau River transformed the Sherrin property to waterfront, and left semi-submerged tree stumps one can still see. Indeed, the cottage became so close to the river that David Selwyn, as a young neighbor in the 1940s, reminisces about Phil Sherrin fishing off the verandah for his morning breakfast.
By all accounts, Phil and Eta loved summering in the Gatineau. Phil became one of the charter members of the nearby Larrimac Golf Club with Larry McCooey, Arthur Elias (my great uncle) and Harry Pereria. He was president of the club from 1929 to 1934, and Eta was renowned for her golfing skills and for presiding over the Saturday afternoon teas at the clubhouse.
Phil died in 1950, followed by Eta in 1953. They had no children and left their beloved cottage to a Gatineau friend, Mildred (Bunty) Carver, who had also been a pioneer in the early days of the Larrimac Golf Club. It appears she never lived in the large Sherrin cottage but rented it out, preferring her own cottage near the highway. One tenant was Val Wilmot (currently living on Gary Lane off Larrimac Road) who spent the 1967 summer there with her then husband and their three young sons. In 1969, Bunty sold the cottage for $13,700 to the Jesuit Fathers, the largest men's religious order in the Catholic Church, who may have used it as a retreat.
In 1975, the Jesuit Fathers sold Sherrin cottage to its current owner, Richard Adrian, who reports that it was in a deplorable state. In over 34 years of ownership, he has turned it into the charming cottage one sees today. In one of his early years there, he recalls arriving home to hear a noise upstairs. Upon investigation, he found former owner Bunty (who died several years later in her 1OOth year) sitting on his bed admiring the view from the window.
The interior of Sherrin cottage evokes the English origins of its first owner with its dark, oak staircase, brick fireplace with mantel, and paned windows. The photo of the exterior, taken by Chelsea's Mike Beedell, provides readers with the same view that passing boaters enjoy. The presence of this heritage cottage surely explains in part the attraction of the Gatineau River in the vicinity of Kirk's Ferry.
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