In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A visit to the McNutt cellar, part three

When we moved to our house we found this letter from Harriet and Basil Heanssler to Elizabeth Hyde. It was tucked inside an old desk in the back bedroom.

Later we moved the desk to the fish house, which Greg restored as a little one-room cottage for summer guests. But we left the letter inside the desk as a memento.
When they wrote this letter, in summer of 1991, the Heansslers had owned the Benjamin McNutt property for two decades. They had bought it from Louie Hemeon, whose family had owned it since 1941. The property is still known locally as Louie's, or, as the Heansslers called it in their letter, "the old Hemeon house."

For some reason the Heansslers had not taken care of the house and it had become a danger. But when they wrote to Elizabeth, she was suffering from the brain tumour that would eventually claim her life. By then it was too late for Elizabeth to help. The house was destroyed in a controlled burn sometime in late 1991 or early 1992. Pat Randall noted in her historic property inventory of September 1992 that the house was gone.

But is it a tragedy, the loss of Benjamin McNutt's house, locally known as Louie's? When I was younger I would have thought so. But now I think, well, it was old and neglected, falling down and unsafe. Its destruction was just the final step in a long process of decay.

Click on the Heanssler's letter to enlarge it.

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