House open for Victorian Fairytale Christmas

 In Business

Imagine a grand three-storey brick farmhouse, room upon room filled with the most beautiful antique lace, crochet, clothing and drapery. It would take hours to browse through such a place, eyes darting hither and tither, not knowing where to rest. 

That is exactly why Cathy Patterson has called her textile wonderland A Day at Victoria’s.

Each room is sorted by colour and although there is an overwhelming amount of merchandise, everything is piled neatly and in astonishing order.

Patterson has had a life-long appreciation for the finer things. She has been restoring antique linen and lace since she was a teenager, beginning with her grandparents’ Christening dresses. She then restored her mom’s wedding dress, adding embellishments. 

Twenty-one years ago, Patterson started selling linens and baking, and grew a business from there. She now has a houseful of Victorian and vintage textiles and serves Scottish teas from a room off the kitchen, where there is a comfy couch and a woodstove. 

Although the linen and lace is abundant, in her collection of clothing, bedding, tablecloths, and tartan, Patterson also has an extensive inventory of jewellery, lamps, dolls, sweaters, even books and silver. 

She said people come to spend the day at Victoria’s because the collection sucks people in.

“Don’t be surprised if you feel overwhelmed,” she says. “Many people have that reaction their first visit.”

It is a bit overwhelming because one doesn’t know where to look first, and time seems to pass quickly, yet somehow not at all, while going from room to room. 

Patterson said some people tuck up in the attic to browse through the books, others meticulously go through piles of blankets or a suitcase of lace. One couple spent an entire day sorting through jars of antique buttons looking for very specific pieces for their collection. 

“They found some really great ones that I didn’t even know I had,” she said. 

This is a special year for the Pattersons. It marks 140 Christmases held in the 1878 farmhouse and an eerily serendipitous replacement of an original stained glass window. 

The original part of the house was built by Joseph and Elizabeth Culham. Patterson said it was always busy with community and church gatherings (and their ghosts are still active). 

The Culhams, and a brother who lived next door, were the first to have phones in Sunnidale Township, having successfully petitioned to allow the phone line to cross the rail line in 1906.

The house was sold outside the family in 1967 and sometime in the 1970s, when the house was being raised, a stained glass window in the dining room was broken. The owner’s daughter showed up one day and offered Patterson the window. She took it to Huronia Art Glass to have the glass repaired and reset and they sent it out to have a new frame constructed. 

The plan was to hang the restored panel in front of the window. Patterson said she had no intention of trying to reinstall the window because an old house tends to shift and she never imagined it would fit. 

So off it went, without any measurements or special instructions. 

When it came back, the window sat for a while wrapped in a blanket, while Patterson prepared the house for the holiday season and then, after some deliberation, she and husband David decided to see if it would fit. 

“It slid right in,” said Patterson with amazement. 

She told the glass restorer to tell the man who built the frame, “You let the carpenter know that ‘the carpenter’ was guiding him. We call that a Godwink in the community.”

Being a family of faith, Patterson said they are still revelling in the awe of it.  

It all came together in time for A Victorian Fairytale Christmas opening Nov. 24.

In addition to being open in the summer months, A Day at Victoria’s is open for a month leading up to Christmas. Until Dec. 24, the house is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and decorated for the holiday with Patterson’s ornaments made from vintage materials, and a number of other gift items. Almost everything in the house is for sale, at least those items clearly marked with price tags. All linens are 40 per cent off in celebration of the house’s 140th anniversary.

To order a Scottish tea and scones, or a full hot lunch, call 705-428-0445 at least one day ahead.

A Day at Victoria’s is located at 5681 Concession 9 Sunnidale, off Centre Line Road, near Stayner. (Pay by cash or cheque only.)

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