Monday, December 20, 2010

Progress at Swallowtail

A lot has been happening at the keepers house and boat house since the early fall.  The buildings are being restored thanks to funding from the provincial government and local fund raising.

The boat house was badly in need of repair because of the southern wall that was largely non-existent but that has now been rebuilt with the last shingles installed. The red doors have been a topic of discussion from those who have looked up from the ferry or from further down the island. We have windows to repair or have built, including some structural work under the western window, a chimney and wood stove to install and a few other small jobs.  The boat house has been completely rewired, a new ramp and hand rail built and new support posts and skirting installed. 

Joe Ingersoll shingling boat house

The keepers house, while on the exterior has been looking much better, has actually been taking a great deal of time.  The major problem has been trying to solve the water leaks.  In a climate where water can be driven up and into buildings, finding areas where the water is entering can be daunting. 

Joe and Ken building boat house ramp >

The wall paper that was put up for the bed and breakfast has been removed, exposing original paint colours, sometimes vibrant colours that were mixed by one of the keepers, Grimmer Ingersoll.  The original footprint for the house is slowly emerging with the removal of partitions installed for the bed and breakfast.  The old windows are getting a facelift with new glazing and glass where needed.  Storm windows will be manufactured in the new year.  Only six original storm windows still exist and these will be copied.  The original front door has been returned after being stored in the boat house.  Doors that are missing from the kitchen cupboards have been built and chrome hardware purchased where it was missing.  Milk glass globes for some of the ceiling light fixtures were purchased at the Habitat ReStore.  While not the same shape, the style matches the era when the keepers house was built. Most wiring issues have been dealt with but some still exist.  It has been a real challenge to keep new shingles on the roof, despite heroic efforts.  The wind shear can be tremendous.

The wind decided that part of the railing on the deck built on the front of the keepers house was not required and the eastern section was "deconstructed", literally blown apart.  It created an entirely different feeling for the deck and with a little work now allows access to the light house rather than having to walk back off the deck and around the house.  While much larger than the original doorstep, the focus is now closer to the original intent with direct access from the keepers house to the light house.

Southern sun porch with original door re-installed.

A big thank you has to be extended to Laurel Hinsdale, daughter of Grimmer Ingersoll, for lending some photographs of the interior of the house taken in the 1960s.  Little details such as the kitchen counter top or ceiling light fixtures have been determined, including a picture of an old cook stove that was in one of the kitchens of the duplex.  A similar stove was purchased from at a local business and will be installed once the kitchen is ready for it.

Because of the long distance to carry material or tools or remove refuse, creativity has been required at times.  Whether walking out or back, seldom are hands empty.  A well stocked tool kit is also emerging so the tool that you need isn't up the 54 steps.

It has been a treat spending so much time at Swallowtail.  Weather conditions are always more extreme but the marine vista is marvellous.  Whales, seals and seabirds are often seen and sometimes land birds such as Bohemian waxwings, gyrfalcon, peregrine falcon, bald eagles and others passing through.  White-tailed deer are often seen on Lighthouse Road.  Snow in the last week or so has changed the landscape and unlike most years, the snow has lingered.

Ken carrying pine along the path from the top of the hill.

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