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July 23, 1996, The Compass
By Edgar Russell
HOUSE WITH A HISTORY - Jack Whelan stands in front of his family homestead in Colliers. The home is thought to be almost 200 ears old; having been owned by the Whelans since 1853 and inhabited before that by two generations of Mulcahys.
There's a house in, Colliers that almost 200 years old - and occupied.
Jack Whelan 85 spends his days at the two-storey house on North Side Road in the Conception Bay Central community. Whelan's grandfather, Matthew Whelan, purchased the house and land back in 1853. He has a "Queen Victoria Grant" to prove it.
The grant, Volume 4, Number 103, is dated Nov. 15, 1853.
That's 144 years ago.
At that time, the house was already on the land, having been occupied by two generations of the Mulcahy family, from whom it was purchased by Matthew Whelan.
The cost of the grant was set at " 12 shillings sterling money," and the land measured on the North 8 chains 67 links; on the Northeast 12 chains; on the Southeast '12 chains 88, links, bounded by, a 40-foot road; and on the Southwest 12 chains 40 links.
For those not familiar with these measurements, a chain is 66 feet and there are 100 links in a chain, which makes a link of 7.92 inches
Matthew Whelan's son Michael (1859-1938) was born and raised in the house, as was Michael's son Jack, the present owner.
Jack Whelan lived in the house, full time, until several, years ago. He still visits every day, but spends his, nights with his neighbour-cousin, Matthew Whelan, father of MHA Don Whelan.
The old house hasn't been painted for many years, but the clapboard is still in good repair. The roof was shingled about 47 years ago and more recently it was covered with cedar shingles.
The inside partitions consist of "One and one-half inch plow and tongue plank," while the outside walls are made from one and one-half inch triplelapped boards.
As with most older buildings, the framing posts go the full height of the structure.
Inside the dwelling, in the kitchen, stands a stove which is older than the owner. The "Acme" cast-iron coal and wood stove was made by the Newfoundland Foundary back in 1909, and cost $20, "freight and all," delivered to the Avondale Railway station.
It is still in use, although one damper has a crack in it.
The house also contains a Singer sewing machine, complete with foot peddle. It was bought in, 1,880 in Conception Harbour and brought to Collier's in, 1903. It still works, but the owner has trouble finding the correct needle.
The house, with its seven-foot open beam ceiling, once had a fireplace in the kitchen where the cast iron stove now stands.
Besides the kitchen, the bottom storey also has a porch, a hallway and a parlour room. There are two bedrooms upstairs in the house which measures about 27 by 18 feet.
There is no electricity. The home is lit by several kerosene lamps.
Whelan was advised about 20 years ago that he could, get his house declared a heritage site, and become eligible for federal government funding to help with repairs and upgrading of the building.
"I thought it was some kind of welfare and I wanted nothing to do with it," says Whelan, who has since learned more about the purpose of a heritage designation.
He said he now feels differently, and is not averse to the idea of having his house declared a heritage structure.
Note: Special Thanks to the staff of the "Compass "in Bay Roberts and Carbonear, Newfoundland for obtaining this article from their archives for me. You help bring history to life!
Contributor: Dennis Flynn
Page Revised: February - 2003 (Don Tate)
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