Historic Boblo Island house gets facelift

Restoration of a 174-year-old-house on Boblo Island will start next week.

174-year-old home to be restored in time for War of 1812 celebrations

Restoration of a 174-year-old house on Boblo Island will start next week. (Parks Canada)

Restoration of a 174-year-old-structure on Boblo Island will start next week.

A group of volunteers led by Becker Engineering want to restore the Bois Blanc block house to its former glory.

Norman Becker, the company's president, said the house is a small, two-storey log fortress about 25 feet long.
Restoration of a 174-year-old-house on Boblo Island will start next week. It's part of a national historic site that includes the lighthouse. (Parks Canada)

"These were built by the British Forces before Confederation to defend the borders of Canada as it came to be against insurgents and rebels in the United States," Becker said of the house and similar structures elsewhere on the island. 

There was one built in the north of the island, one in the middle, and one in the south.

"Unfortunately, and inexplicably, the northern one was actually burned down deliberately as part of the celebration for Confederation in 1867," Becker said. "The middle one burned down accidentally."

The house and accompanying light house are together deemed a national historic site.

Becker has drawings of the original blueprints and cost of the house. In 1838, it cost £100 to build.

The restoration project today will cost close to $160,000 Cdn and should be completed by next June.

Amherstburg town council has offered a $7,900 grant for the first phase and the volunteer committee has received more than $50,000 in donations and pledges to date.

"They've opened their hearts and wallets to help get this done," an appreciative Becker said.

Logs from the house will be transported on the Boblo Island ferry to the mainland for restoration.

Becker said the building has deteriorated rapidly in the last few years. The roof collapsed approximately a year ago. So the first order of business is to stabilize the building.

Becker said the completion is timed to coincide with the bicentennial celebration of the War of 1812.

"It's sort of a repatriation of the island, to bring it closer to the mainland," Becker said. "It continues to be an extension of Fort Malden."

The Island had previously been owned and operated as an amusement park owned by Americans. It's now again Canadian owned.