LIKE THE HOME described in this issue's featured acreage,
our house has withstood many renovations. My grandparents acquired a small
building from a railway siding and moved it onto their land near Saskatoon in
1925. Early photos show their tiny, stuccoed, peak-roofed farmhouse, its front
porch draped with vines. Three of their four children grew up there, and the
youngest, my father, took over the property in 1955.
He made many improvements to the house, beginning with
indoor plumbing. There were also numerous additions, to the extent that my
brothers dubbed the place "the house of many corners."
One renovation was directly related to my leaving home at
20. Before I'd finished hanging posters in my little city apartment, Mom and
Dad were knocking out walls to convert my bedroom into a dining room. (Yes, you
can go home again, but don't expect your bedroom to be waiting for you.)
Twenty-some years later, my parents retired to the city and
I was back, along with my new husband and three stepchildren. We loved the
house, the gardens, the expansive yard. It was sheltered by maples and caraganas
planted by my grandparents, along with evergreens and other species added by my
parents. However, given Mom's penchant for turning bedrooms into living spaces,
and our need for extra bedrooms and an office, we envisioned another expansion.
At our wedding party on the back lawn, my brother had made a
little speech about how much the property means to our family, and what it
would mean to this new generation. He'd noted my husband and I were now
"planning another addition."
"To the house!" Mom had interjected, for
We started that building project the following year,
swinging the double garage around and back to accommodate the new structure,
which happens to resemble a grain elevator. We enjoy the symbolism, especially
since so many grain elevators have recently been pulled down across the
What a thrilling experience, helping my husband fasten
shingles on the third storey early one autumn evening. Never a fan of heights,
I found my knees had turned to jelly. Yet, clinging to the south slope, I was
moved by the enormity of the twilight sky and the panorama of bush, pastures
and stubble fields below. Then, heralded by only a few honks, a chevron of
geese flew over, so close we could hear the silvery swish of their wings. They
appeared undeterred, but we imagined their surprise at this new marker in their
flight path, and their gabbled complaints of, "What the heck? This wasn't
here last year."
At last count, our rambling, L-shaped house has 12 corners.
You'd think the place would be almost perfect after all these transformations,
but the bedroom-turned-dining room is cramped when all the kids and grandkids
gather. I'm thinking maybe a bump-out, with a bay window and built-in bench
seating. Of course we'd tear up the carpeting, maybe install some hardwood,
repaint. So it goes; so it grows.