Historic Oakville home for sale after 64 years
Sun., May 27, 2018
There’s something slightly irregular about the plaque advertising the provenance of 205 Trafalgar Rd. Similarly discreet white placards adorn other historic homes in old Oakville, with the names and professions of the original residents of those properties.
The one at 205 advertises the two-storey red brick as the Robert Farley Apothecary, dated 1857. But on the shingle beside the old doctor’s entrance to the left of the front porch, the word “apothecary” appears to have been cut from a separate piece of wood and inserted into the sign.
Amanda Bramall remembers when her parents — the most recent occupants of the home — discovered that the plaque had been misspelled as, “apothocary.” Rather than waiting months for the town to replace it, they made the correction.
Art conservator June Bramall and former Oakville and Bronte Harbourmaster Gurth Bramall, bought the red brick Gothic Revival in 1954, one of only five families that have lived in the 160-year-old house.
Now, after 64 years, following the death of their mother in January at age 95, June’s children have put the house on the market. Gurth Bramall died in 2005. Daughter Amanda Bramall and her brothers, Richard and Christopher, have decided it’s time the house passed to another family.
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Listed for $2.1 million, the four-bedroom, white-shuttered red brick home has attracted one offer from a developer, who backed away when he realized that severing a historic property would be complicated.
Amanda, a professional gardener who lives in Muskoka, says she is relieved that deal didn’t go through.
“It really is a family house. It has a lovely garden. There’s been weddings, birthday celebrations, christenings, happy and sad events,” she said.
The house was the site of Gurth Bramall’s celebration of 50 years of Canadian citizenship — he came to Canada from England as a child — and its sprawling garden will be the backdrop next week for a celebration of June’s life. A commercial artist and painter, she was internationally known for restoring works from galleries and private collections all over the world from the studio her husband built on the back of the house overlooking the garden.
Amanda Bramall can’t remember how many tennis balls she and her brothers tossed into the hollow spire of the town cenotaph in George’s Square, the leafy park directly across the street. But she recalls the snakes her brothers brought home from 16 Mile Creek that flows just the other side the street and, she remembers the smokey odour that permeated the home’s walls when her mother would line the hallway with canvases that had been ravaged by fire.
The home is named for chemist Robert Farley, who built it after buying the property in 1857. He didn’t live there long, selling it in 1864 to a George Rutherford, who in turn sold it three years later to Dr. Charles Lusk. It was Lusk, who bought an adjoining lot that is now the garden. His widow sold it in 1920 to another doctor, Halton County Coroner William Morley Wilkinson. Both doctors saw patients in the residence. A sign on the porch still points to the office. According to a history based on information from the Oakville Historical Society and a book called, Old Oakville, by David and Suzanne Peacock, the Wilkinsons sold it 34 years later following the wedding of their daughter Mary.
Gurth Bramall ran a construction and paving company when he and June bought the place. Amanda remembers her dad ordering the old summer kitchen be torn off the back of the house one day. Her mother came home to find a plastic sheet tacked to the main house just as Gurth announced he was leaving for his annual month-long trip to England. The new kitchen was built in his absence with her mother cooking on the stove that had been moved to the formal dining room.
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After selling his construction and paving business, Gurth was hired by former Oakville Mayor Harry Barrett in the early 1970s to lead the restoration of the Oakville and Bronte harbours. Bramall’s cleanup and landscaping, along with the establishment of new moorings, helped make the Oakville waterfront the destination it has become, says his daughter.
George Niblock, the real estate listing agent, along with Gillian Cockcroft of Royal LePage Estate Services Ltd., says the Apothecary is in unusually good condition based on other properties he has sold in Oakville’s historic district. Its historic designation doesn’t prevent a new owner from renovating the interior, although the exterior front will likely need to retain its charming heritage.
“This one is on a very solid foundation. They’ve maintained the mechanicals and the bones of the building very well,” said Niblock.
“It doesn’t have the ensuite bathroom. it doesn’t have big closets, it doesn’t have a lot of big patio doors walking out to the terrace,” he said.
But, he said, it only takes one buyer to appreciate the house.
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