Submitted by Julie Coulson Fine
I have had the great pleasure and privilege of living with my husband Josh and our three kids at this stately 1937 “Arts and Crafts” home at 704 Island Park Drive. We moved fortuitously months before the pandemic from a smaller house in Westboro. My kids are the fifth generation in our family to live on Island Park.
Ninety years earlier, my grandparents were moving into their landmark home on the same street at 239 Island Park Drive. Built in 1921, the “broken heart” house was one of only two homes on the street at the time. Its somewhat sad name came from the developer who built it for his fiancée, who then proceeded to break off the engagement. It was here my grandparents raised six kids.
I can’t help but think of the parallels between the lives of the people in our two families, enjoying the same river sunsets, walking dogs along the same trails, shopping in the same neighborhoods, and benefitting from excellent education at local schools.
The homes have the same leaded windows with the original hardware, still in good shape, and beautiful wood floors.
Our home was designed by P. Roy Wilson McGill, an architect from Montreal, and built by the grandson of lumber baron J.R Booth.
In the 1930s, my grandfather and Booth collaborated to lease a huge area near Mont Sainte Marie, and built hunting and fishing lodges. These buildingsThey became family cottages over the years and it was where my grandmother chose to live off-grid in summers to avoid breakouts of polio.
When my dad, D’Arcy Coulson was growing up, he lived on a large acreage in what is now the Champlain Park neighbourhood. They had horses that they would ride down to the Ottawa River. My dad remembered Winston Churchill driving by and also Princess Elizabeth before she became queen. He also remembered bringing food to the shanty village that used to be down on the rivershore, later disbanded when the parkway was built.
The exterior of both houses is rock. The home where my dad grew up has round river stones from the Ottawa River in the shades of pink and gray. Our home’s exterior is granite — I presume from Gatineau Park. Both were chiseled by hand through craftsmen whose skill still continues to amaze. It impresses me to think that those rocks are three billion years old from the Canadian Shield.
While many people feel the allure of moving away and starting something new, it’s comforting to feel one’s roots in the neighborhood.