Top News

House 'with solid bones' gets second chance as P.E.I. expat and Australian fiancé renovating century-old farmhouse

Ian McKillop and fiancé Clare Carlyon recently purchased this century-old farmhouse in Birch Hill, moved it, and plan to renovate it into a tourism destination. COLIN MACLEAN/JOURNAL PIONEER
Ian McKillop and fiancé Clare Carlyon recently purchased this century-old farmhouse in Birch Hill, moved it, and plan to renovate it into a tourism destination. COLIN MACLEAN/JOURNAL PIONEER

As she pulled yet another strip of stubborn, ancient wallpaper from the latest home her parents were fixing up to flip, Clare Carlyon swore she would never undertake such an onerous project.  

But fast forward a few years and Carlyon couldn’t be happier to ignore that particular oath. In fact, she’s like a kid at Christmas at the prospect of doing so.

“I can’t wait to just get in and get my hands dirty – (but) I could regret that within a day or two,” she said, with a chuckle.

Carlyon and her fiancé Ian McKillop are in the beginning stages of rejuvenating a 117-year-old property in the Birch Hill area known as the Stanley Maynard House.

The couple purchased the home earlier this year and moved it down the road to a lot on the Willie Birch Road just before Christmas.

 

It took lots of people power and equipment to get the old house moving. COLIN MACLEAN/JOURNAL PIONEER
It took lots of people power and equipment to get the old house moving. COLIN MACLEAN/JOURNAL PIONEER

Carlyon is originally from Melbourne, Australia, and McKillop is from Summerside. The couple recently settled in Halifax, but they share a deep love of P.E.I. and have often returned here during their time together.

The Island was their first choice when they decided to invest in an income property geared towards tourism.

They looked at a number of properties across the province, but it was the Maynard House, incidentally just around the corner from where McKillop built a cottage several years ago, that they fell in love with.

The house was in need of some love, but its bones were solid and it was so unique that they decided not to pass on it. They plan to do much of the “unskilled” renovation work themselves and are working with various tradespeople for the rest.

“A lot of people told us it would be a lot cheaper and easier to build from scratch – but you can’t replace history,” said Carlyon.

That being said, there have been moments leading up to the house move that they nearly called off the project, said McKillop.

“There were a few times where Clare and I said, ‘Look, lets just mimic what it was and build it, because this house is never going to get moved.’”

 

Ian McKillop on the staircase of the Stanley Maynard House, believed to be at least 117 years old. COLIN MACLEAN/JOURNAL PIONEER
Ian McKillop on the staircase of the Stanley Maynard House, believed to be at least 117 years old. COLIN MACLEAN/JOURNAL PIONEER

But they worked through those problems and are now looking forward to starting the renovation.

They’re hoping to have enough of the work completed in time to start accepting guests around the start of the 2018 summer tourism rush.

Carlyon, whose professional background is in marketing, has created a website and blog to introduce the business and the Island to interested clients. It can be found at www.penguinandbear.ca.

They also intend to use their site and social media channels (under the same brand name) to keep people updated on their renovation work.

A lot of their neighbours have been following the project and have been really supportive, they said.

People have been sharing personal stories of growing up around or visiting the home, said McKillop, and are appreciative that it will not be torn down.

It has been really encouraging.

“Knowing now how much buzz it has created in the community, I feel like we have a bigger obligation just to make the community proud, really. I didn’t expect this much feedback and positivity.”

Recent Stories