An Alymer couple's attempt to off-load their home through a unique essay contest fell short of its goal, but the couple plans to give the public a second shot to win their country home starting October 1.

This spring, after having trouble selling their house on the traditional real estate market, Diana and Calvin Brydges decided to try something different and launched an essay contest.

Entrants were required to send a story or essay on how winning the couple's home would benefit them, along with a $100 entry fee, to a third party. The essays would be passed on to the Brydges, stripped of names and identifiers.

If the contest received 3000 entries, the Brydges said they would pick a winner based on the essays and hand over the keys. The accumulated $300,000 — equal to the appraised value of their Alymer home — would go to the Brydges. 

The contest closed August 31, 808 entries short of the required 3000. Though originally, the Brydges said they would refund everyone's money if they fell short of their target, entrants can now choose to stay in the contest if they want a second shot at winning the home.

"Our third party is going to contact everyone to see if they want to leave their essays in or if they'd like to be refunded," Diana Brydges told Craig Norris on The Morning Edition on Wednesday.

Alymer couple attacked online over essay contest

The Brydges said they were surprised by the negative feedback they received online.

"We were attacked on our Facebook page, we were attacked in the media. 'It was a scam', 'it was illegal', 'you're going to get shut down'," said Calvin Brydes.

"We've done our homework, this is completely legal," he said. "It was not a scam, we've said from the start all we want is $300,000 for the house. Anything above and beyond that is going to down to the children and orphans in Haiti," said Calvin, noting the couple didn't hear "a blip on the radar," from police or gambling authorities.

"There has been a lot of people that have slammed us, for whatever reason I have no idea," he said. "But I just hope that on the re-launch it comes all the way through as a positive."

Security cameras catch snoopers

The Brydges installed video surveillance for added security, which captured a number of strange incidents involving people who wanted to get a better look at their home. 

"One lady actually leaned over our fence," said Diana. "We have two huge Cane Corsos in the backyard and she peered over the fence and the dog met her there face to face. I think she was a little shocked."


The Brydges have received entries from people around the world on how they would benefit from winning the couple's three-bedroom home in Aylmer, Ont, valued at $300,000. (Facebook)

The contest wasn't without complications; more than 150 entries were disqualified and returned to sender because they didn't follow the rules.

"Our third party has told us that we have had to send some back because they have made out [their cheque] to 'Essay House' instead of to 'Diana and Calvin Brydges'," Diana said.

The couple says when the contest begins again they will make sure the rules are more clearly defined.

"The basic format is going to be the same. All we're doing is just launching on October 1 as a new beginning. The content of the essay, 'How will winning this house benefit you?' is going to be exactly the same," said Calvin.

Due to recent unsettling events involving internet advertisements for peer-to-peer sales and the world-wide appeal of the contest, the Brydges have decided not to host any further open houses.

"We've had essays come in from New Zealand, Hong Kong, Australia, the Netherlands, all across the United States. These people are negated from showing up for an open house because they are so far away, so it's not fair for everybody," said Calvin.