The Job is Done!

The foundation wall of the old Glen Villa Inn is once again standing tall.

Rebuilding the wall has been quite a process. In its prime the wall was the base of a grand structure.

 

An old hand-coloured postcard shows Glen Villa Inn.
An old hand-coloured postcard shows Glen Villa Inn in all its magnificence.

 

Unfortunately, like so many summer resort hotels built of wood, it didn’t last.

 

The wall was enormous!
The fire that destroyed the hotel left an impressively long wall and two chimneys. The planting beds in the foreground hint at a possible addition next year.

 

A colour postcard of the hotel sent the year it burned had this poignant message on the back:

 

The Dames were one of the first American families to come to North Hatley. Descendants still do.
The Daves were one of the first American families to come to North Hatley. I haven’t identified the sender, E.B. and welcome any suggestion of who he or she might be.

 

In the last year, the hotel wall went from this …

 

In 2018 the foundation wall was almost entirely hidden by vegetation.
In 2018 the foundation wall was almost entirely hidden by vegetation.

 

to this …

We started the work in early November and finished late in the month.
We started the work in early November and finished a few days ago.

 

and finally to THIS!

 

The
Finished at last!

 

The muddy ground makes it difficult to appreciate the impact the re-built wall will have but we are delighted with the results.

 

A side view of the wall gives some sense of its dimensions -- about 16 feet at the highest point and roughly 75 feet long.
A side view gives some sense of the wall’s dimensions — about 16 feet at the highest point and roughly 75 feet long.

 

We left the check in the foundation wall that might have been a fireplace and we rebuilt the internal staircase. Now, we’ll be able to go easily from the bottom of the wall to the higher ground at the top.

 

This close-up shows how well constructed the staircase is.
This close-up shows how the staircase fits into the foundation wall.

 

The men from Paysage Lambert, a local firm we’ve used before who I can happily recommend, used stones from the original foundation wall to rebuild the new one. By looking hard they found good flat-topped stones for the steps.

I’m not sure yet whether the stairs at the top will turn in one or both directions — that is a decision I’ll make once the dirt piles are gone and the snow melts. Which means I’ll be working over the winter months to plan the next phase of this project. Because of course there has to be one.

The photo of the hotel ruins shows two beds edging the circular drive that turned in front of the hotel.

What do you, are those roses in bloom?
What do you think, are those roses in bloom? More likely they are annuals of some sort.

 

A postcard from before the fire shows trees, shrubs and hotel guests edging the drive.

 

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At the moment I’m seeing a simplified version of the arrangement in the photo from after the fire. The gravel drive for horses will be a mown path with two beds alongside it planted with shrubs and perennials. Currently we mow a path about ten feet wide around the wall and we’ll continue to do that.  If we plant perennial beds, they probably would be about the same width.

 

The grassy path around the stone circle would be about 10 feet wide and the planting beds roughly the same.
The bird’s eye sketch shows the hotel foundation wall, the Yin/Yang and two perennial beds.

 

The down side of this idea: it would require a LOT of plants. The plus side: we have very few areas where sun-loving perennials can thrive and this area gets full sun for most of the day.

In the hotel’s heyday, an asphalt path led towards the lake. Remnants of it remain.

 

The edge of the Yin/Yang is barely visible at the bottom of the photo.
The Yin/Yang with its contrasting colours, shapes and heights is visible at the bottom of the photo. Ignore the Canada geese!

 

So a variation on Idea 1 is to extend the border towards the lake, flanking the remnants of the path.

 

Another possibility?
Another possibility?

 

The downside of this scheme: it would take even MORE plants! But wouldn’t it look splendid?

I could combine one of these schemes or the other with a make-over of  the Yin/Yang, using a contemporary version of the strange four-trunked arrangement that stood on the hotel grounds.

 

The postcard identifies the location and the year that the photo was taken.
I can imagine a kettle suspended over a fire, cooking those annuals to a crisp.

 

Four young flexible trees could be trained together, but I’m not sure I’d like the result. I do like the idea of roses, though…

Ideas, anyone? What do you think?