It was a bittersweet occasion for Janet and Laverne Tritton recently, as their 21 children and grandchildren dropped by 1150 Maple Street in Fenwick for a farewell party.
Moving day was Monday. The stately house on half an acre, built in 1900 by contractor and businessman Louis Haney, has been the Tritton home for 50 years.
Haney hired a landscape architect from Toronto to design extensive gardens on the property in the 1930s, which included fountains, statues (cherubs representing the four seasons), and a fish pond. They are still intact in the back yard, but no longer functional. The barn is still clad in the original tin siding that came from Haney’s hardware store, which opened in 1915.
Janet and Laverne are downsizing to a townhouse in Welland, and thus many treasured mementos and pieces of furniture simply had to go. Their daughter Lisa placed advertisements, and soon flocks of people from across Niagara and beyond descended on the house to claim antique items.
A collector drove all the way from Kingston to get two mission chairs.
“I made him a lunch because he had a four-hour drive home,” said Janet. A woman from Niagara-on-the-Lake went home with a table.
“That was my mother’s, and the lady is going to use it in her bed and breakfast.”
A fellow from Dundas bought an old coal oil lamp, circa 1800, that had a ceramic bottom with a picture of a little girl on it. When he took it apart to clean it, he discovered a letter inside, written by Laverne’s father.
“He offered to bring it back to us, so we gave him his money back plus a bonus for being so honest,” said Janet.
Laverne grew up on Church Street in Fenwick, and Janet moved with her family to Canboro Road in 1951. They attended Pelham High School together, but didn’t commence dating until 1959. They married in 1960.
“We moved to Memorial Drive for five years, and then had to relocate to Hamilton for a couple years while Laverne was working for the railway,” said Janet. “We found out that 1150 Maple was for sale, and remembered when we were dating we used to pass by and admire the house. We ended up buying it, and raising four kids here.”
Louis Haney died at a relatively young age, but his widow lived in the house until 1958.
“The people who had it for the 12 years before we bought it, they didn’t do a thing to the place,” lamented Laverne. “It was in rough shape when we got it. Broken windows and such. Everybody thought we were crazy to buy it,” he said with a laugh.
But they could see the potential in the property, and decided to restore it to its former glory.
Inside, the rooms were strewn with boxes, evidence of an impending move. But the heritage home’s features — chestnut trim and flooring, elaborate fireplace, leaded glass windows — reveal its legacy. The bathrooms feature glazed tile and mosaic floors, and household fixtures of the era.
“My mother brought me here a couple of times to see that the fish pond and the flowers when it was Mrs. Haney’s place,” said Laverne. “It was a labor of love for her to keep the place looking nice.”