Three stories of stories: Home on wheels opens doors to house concerts

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Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

Imagine enjoying your morning coffee on your porch while watching a team of specially trained horses pulling your neighbour’s three-storey home down your street on a flatbed trailer.

This is how the Colbeck’s brick home at 333 Patricia Avenue travelled to its current location when the old Canadian Tire, east of the Bank Note Company property by Island Park, was built in 1953.

Roger and Nicole Colbeck, the home’s current owners, regularly hold house concerts at 333 Patricia, supporting travelling musicians by hosting intimate concerts in her living room mid-week when gigs are harder to come by. Alive with music, company and laughter, Nicole Colbeck describes her family’s home as “always full of life.”

After winning Kitchissippi Times’s Your House Story contest in August, the Colbeck family – including son Jeremy and daughters Carolynne and Léanne – are learning more about their history of their home and its stories from area history buff, Housetalgia’s David Allston.

“Joseph Wood, the owner of the stone house next door to Nicole’s, purchased 333 Patricia for about $2000 in 1953,” says Allston, explaining that the price reflects the fact that if the home wasn’t relocated, Canadian Tire would otherwise demolish it. “Richmond Road used to be full of old homes that were demolished in the name of progress.”

Among the features that reflect their home’s 1912-1913 construction are a shallow coal fireplace and a third floor equipped with generous closets, a sitting room and a bathroom. “There’s a coal shoot in the basement and we believe the third floor was once staff quarters as there’s a buzzer from the first floor to that floor and there isn’t a bathroom on the second floor,” says Colbeck. Currently, the ‘staff’ quarters are where her brother-in-law and sister-in-law live while they look for a home in the neighbourhood.

Settled by United Empire Loyalists in 1805, land in the area was divided into long, narrow 200 acre lots. “Elijah Spicer was first given the grant from Carling to Scott that would have been about 4-5 blocks wide where the house was eventually first built. Spicer sold the land to Rice Honeywell, whose son, Ira, was the first settler in Nepean.” explains Allston. The land passed through several owners and was eventually split into smaller parcels.

When they were in the process of purchasing their home, a building inspector noted the cinder block foundation and first tipped the Colbeck’s off to a possible move. “We thought it might have been moved when the Queensway was built,” says Colbeck, adding that when they renovated their home, they found a newspaper clipping from the opening ceremonies of the Queensway’s construction rolled up behind their quarter round. “It was a little mystery that intrigued us,” says Colbeck who has long been curious about her home but wasn’t sure how to find out more about it.

The son of one of the previous owners landed on her doorstep a few years ago, asking if the Colbecks would be willing to part with their living room’s chandelier. “I told him I wasn’t planning on replacing it, but would call him if I did,” says Colbeck who learned then that 333 Patricia was long a neighbourhood hub with lively parties, laughter and late nights.

Part of the house’s appeal, when the Colbecks moved to it from Stittsville about seven years ago, was “coming into a place that already had a life and stories that would seep out,” says Colbeck.

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