Ed & Patricia Rostaing 1906 Residence: Bawlf
115 King St., Bawlf has a thousand stories to tell, of a rural Alberta lifestyle. The home has unmistakable charm, as well as pertinent building methods that highlight its turn of the century construction.
Pulling up to the one hundred and six year old Rostaing residence in Bawlf, the eye is not quite sure where to look first; the old stone pathways, the flowers blowing in the wind, the softly peeked roof line, with the widow's walk, begging to whisper stories of days passed. A warm and welcoming front porch, beckons, as mature trees sway in the warm breezes. The original front porch was covered, however, its replacement allows for unencumbered Alberta sunshine to flow into the home. One, of two of the most interesting wooden doors, welcomes visitors, both of which boast a large oval window in the centre of refinished oak.The first of the two doors, opens onto a cozy front entry way, before reaching, the main living area of the home. To the right, the original push button light switches, still in perfect working order, whisper again, of times gone by. In the same way, many of the outlets in the home still allow for a choice of thirty- volt power. The Rostaing's speculate that this detail may speak to a light plant being in the area long before Calgary Power made its way.
Both sitting rooms fill with light from the large bow windows standing on guard at opposite outer corners. The parlour immediately to the right of the front entry holds an angled wall, on which rests a gas fire place. Although the insert has been replaced, the location is in line with the original wood burning unit. Neither of these rooms hold a television, since the Rostaings have had no need for one since 1988. Their home is filled, instead, with hundreds of books, not one of them fiction. No wonder the two are filled to overflowing with interesting and intriguing details, and a passion for life.
Nestled in the centre of the home, the staircase has a story or two to tell. Mrs. Rostaing can easily recall a visit from her great Aunt, whose husband, George Rhyason, was both the previous owner, and original carpenter of the home. Mrs. Rostaing giggles as she recalls how her great aunt grimaced decades later, at the steep slope of the stairway. Apparently the former mistress of the home held ideas of a gentle sloping ascent, with a landing in the middle to accommodated a curve in the opposite direct, and most importantly, an ideal spot for a grandfather clock. These dreams were never to come to fruition. Pat recalls, with a smile, how decades had not lessened the disappointment revealed by former lady of the home.
Steep slope or no, the larger than expected newel post, may reveal an elevated stature intended for the dwelling, being originally built for the manager of the local coal mine: The Bawlf Coal Company. The mine operated for approximately four to six years, before getting "watered out". It was located at the end of the Kelsey road, where the Gendreau's now live. Once the mining company went bankrupt, the house was occupied by the local bank manager. Following the bank manager, trucker, AP Nelson and family took up residence. The Nelsons took part in building the rail road from Kelsey to past Rosalind. Pat's great uncle, George Rhyason, bought from the Nelsons, living in the house for thirty-three years, after which, Ed and Pat Rostaing chose to purchase it, keeping the dwelling in the family for another thirty years and counting.
Ed and Pat have restored much of the original trim work in the home. This endeavour involved pain staking hours of taking each piece of trim apart, along with many of the doors, stripping the paint off, before refinishing it back to the its original glory. This challenge gifted the present owners with a postcard dated 1912, from behind some of the lattice work. Most of the wood in the home is now paint free. Between one of the sitting rooms and the dining room, solid wood, fully functional pocket doors, remain usually tucked away, even though Mrs. Rostaing can recall a time or two when those doors facilitated a cozy space for family connections. A sturdy and well appointed kitchen stands in the back of the house, the last original room, before a small addition hugs the rear entry way of the home. The main floor hall, with it's large, five panel doors, also holds a powder room, and a spacious master bedroom, with an ensuite and remarkably large closet for the age of the home! At the top of the stairs, one finds the third bathroom, with the original tub. The five panel doors continue in the spacious upstairs hallway, each one jewelled with intricate iron work around the handles.
Ed & Patricia Rostaing are pictured in the gallery above. The two have known each other since their early elementary years, when they met at Green Grove, a one room school house, once located just east of Ohaton. the gallery bellow shows some of the artifacts from within the County of Camrose, that commemorate the settler education era.
The Rostaings added a new foundation to the house, raising it by thirty inches, since the original cement was deteriorating, simply with the passage of time. The bow windows give the home a whopping nineteen corners, making concrete forms rather challenging. The treated wood foundation has served its purpose quite well. Previous to the Rostaing's basement addition, there was a crawl space with a cistern and pump, that would laboriously pump water to the second floor bathroom. Technically then, the house has always had running water, even if muscle and gravity gave a helping hand to the process.
Functional glass windows rest atop each door, allowing for excellent air circulation throughout the home. This purposeful attention to air flow ensures even temperatures in every area of the home. There are central heating vents that come up from the centre walls of the home, along with cool air returns on the outer walls. These accommodate a steady circulation of both warm and cool air. This unpowered circulation allows for even temperatures without always requiring powered fans, thus keeping the air quality steady, and heating and cooling costs down, in the lath and plaster constructed home. The same quality has made it possible to have most of the original windows throughout, fish eyed glass and all! Construction details aside, there is a warmth that envelopes the home, both from its magnanimous owners, and undoubtably the myriad of stories its walls hold. It would seem that for this turn of the century home, 2016 is just the beginning.
Click on the button to the left, to listen to Ed Rostaing touch on the history shared between his home, and the coal industry.
The photo gallery below holds glimpses of the warmth, precision and nostalgia so evident