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December  7, 2007

Another House History - Nipissing Village


Nipissing Village where the South River enters Lake Nipissing at South Bay with its many islands has a fascinating history as recorded in the Nipissing Museum.  The Village had the potential to become a large community until the proposed railway across the south shore of Lake Nipissing was rerouted to North Bay.  The old Nipissing Road bringing settlers from the south dried up and the boats on the river became redundant. 

The hub of the shipping activity was at Chapman's Landing where boats loaded and unloaded and where boats were built and repaired.  The Chapmans had a large farm. 

If you take highway 654 west from Callander or 534 from Powassan you will come to the village and will find Chapman's Landing Road.  About a kilometer down this road next to Becker's Berry Patch you will find the house I want to look at today.  It was built as a cottage about 1900 for Waldimar Kahnert, a wealthy Toronto furrier whose family has connections in the area.  They had also had a fur store on Main Street East in North Bay for years.  The Toronto store continues today.  An Antoinette Kahnert married Adam Straus and her sister Emilie Kahnert married Powassan mayor L.F. Robertson. 

The house then and now

Over the years the house has changed hands several times and has been vacant on occasion.  The remarkable thing is that it has retained much of its original charm with a unique porch, embossed tin wall cover and copper ceilings and has not been restored or modernized along the way until the present.  The current owners for the past two years Sherry Milford and Yan Roberts are lovingly restoring it and have added period furnishings to support their two businesses. 

Sherry, a certified nutrition consultant, runs her Heal Thy Self food and nutrition service in her house or yours (HealThySelf.ca) Yan works full time in North Bay and helps with their Piebird Bread and Breakfast (stay@piebird.ca) 

The House History 

Like the house restoration the history of the house is a work in progress and they have accumulated a lot of information on the 107 year history of the house.  They are always looking for additional information.  They hope to eventually have a house history book for their own interest and for guests. 

The original owner Waldimar Kahnert also had an island on South Bay and some of his descendants remain today.  He kept the house to 1914 when he apparently lost it on a bet.  The same fate applied to an island he held.  There is a record of a lumberman, Harry Hurlburt renting the house to bring his family to the area in the winter of 1909.  

Waldimar's brother Robert drowned in Lake Nipissing in 1921.  Erle Kahnert who owns property on the lake has written a book on the family called The Assassins of Eden (2004).  It is available at the Nipissing Museum in season. 

The Schnoffer family that owned the property after the Kahnerts rented the house to Herb and Bertha Chapman from the local Chapman family for a period.  (They are Yan's great great grandparents). 

The house was bought by the Etches family in the early 1940s.  Elizabeth, the Etches daughter visited recently and told some of the family history.  She stayed there briefly while her husband was in the army and gave birth to a daughter in the house in 1942.  Her brother Bill put the first water into the house.  Bill and his dad built a chicken house for the family and the family turned the whole front yard into an immaculate garden.  They used to fish at the Chapman Chute each spring.  The Beatty Creek runs behind the property making easy access by boat to the South River.  They sold the property to a Mr. and Mrs. Blompiel. 

At one point a large family stayed in the house in unknown circumstances.  Gwen Daman operated an antique shop there in the 1980s and returned recently for an overnight visit. 

Earl Gerber, with feet over railing in 1930 and in 2005 visiting the B&B.  Submitted photos.

Earl Gerber who stayed for a visit recently recalled a stay 75 years earlier and provided a photo from that visit to go with the later visit. 

Nancy Guppy who lives at Chapman's Landing owned the house from 2000 to 2005.  Sherry and Yan have bought some adjoining land and now have a couple of goats nearby.  They have collected more information than I have touched on here and more is coming in to help develop a full a history as possible for future generations.  They may be contacted at 705-724-1144 or at 113 Chapman's Landing Road, Nipissing Village, Ontario, P0H 1W0 or online. 

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