History and FAQs
"What's your house like?"
THE DOORWAY marks the transition between the temporal world and the eternal. Our home is filled with objects of beauty.
In some traditions, the house is a symbolic construction of the owner's universe.
Our rooms are eclectic with signs of an artistic and intellectual life. Has your
bedroom got the portrait of Frida Kahlo, the Ojibwa dreamcatcher, the
Saskatchewan corn dolly, the Joni Mitchell poster, the poem by Chrystos, or the Persian holy relic on your door?
Each room has eleven-foot ceilings, Florida-style walnut bladed ceiling fans, and central air conditioning.
THE GREAT GODDESS is an expression of Gay`s inner self; ancient figurines of the Mystery are found throughout the house. The largest statue, over eight feet high, is in the dining room. Two Chinese Fo dogs guard the door to scare evil spirits away. Gay is a feminist with a keen interest in Buddhism, birds, and typewriters.
CURIOS and COLLECTIBLES from our travels to Greece, Morocco, Mexico,
China, India, and South America give our home a ``museum-like``
ambience, our guests claim. Oriental carpets and antique furnishings,
framed and signed poetry broadsides are in the hallways and a gallery of
literary portraits graces the dining room. The entrance has several
hundred volumes of poetry, fiction, and theatre books.
WHEN THE HOUSE WAS BUILT IN 1857:
*Canada did not exist as a nation.
*The American Civil War had not yet begun.
*Queen Victoria was in power.
*The Crimean War just ended.
*Livingstone sought the source of the Nile.
*Darwin wrote The Origin of Species.
*The main industry of America was whaling.
*Whitman and Thoreau published Leaves of Grass and Walden.
*The hit song was `Listen to the Mocking Bird.``
FROM THE BEACON HERALD, July 27, 1932, Centenary edition :
One doctor who will be remembered by all old timers was Dr. Peter R.
Shaver (b.1829 in Hamilton, graduated McMaster 1856), who built up an
extensive practice during his many years in Stratford. Dr. Shaver used
to drive one of the finest teams of sorrel horses, and he was justly
proud of them...For many years Dr. Shaver was jail physician and also
coroner of the county of Perth.
Dr. Shaver, who built Allison`s Brunswick House, had thirteen children.
So in 1878 he built the 19th century Italianate house next door.
W.B.YEATS had Thor Ballylee at Gort. James Joyce the Tower at Sandycove.
Beatrix Potter had Hill Top. Anne had Green Gables. Vita Sackville-West
had Sissinghurst Castle. Dylan Thomas swilled a few in the seashaken
boathouse in the strangest house in Wales. Anne Hathaway's cottage
hosted the Great Man himself. And we, Gay and Geoff, have Allison's
Brunswick House. A perfect peaceful getaway for writers and readers year
round. Relax on our huge pine verandah and watch the squirrels, crows,
and bluejays in our black walnut tree.
``And then to breakfast with what appetite you have!``
Shakespeare, Henry VIII
What do you serve for breakfast?
FULL BREAKFAST: healthy, nutritious and fresh breakfasts. We feature the first spring tapping of delicately flavoured local maple syrup. Garnish includes fresh fruit in season: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, peaches, pears and cherries. French toast, scrambled eggs, pancakes, juice, coffee, tea, and conversation.
What delights keep you in Stratford?
We needed space to write. Johnson had his attic, Henry James had the morning room, Dylan Thomas had the shack, Hardy his Druid Stone in the workroom over the kitchen, Darwin his room with the mirror to detect the unwanted. And Sterne the delicious retreat where he worked all night. Geoff wanted a lectern desk like Churchill. Gay needed a quiet parlour like Jane Austen, a room of her own like Virginia Woolf. We wanted our daughter Meagan ( a graduate from UVic, and now a Toronto talent agent) to cherish a childhood in nature and Shakespeare...in the spiritual & sensual world of music, books, magazines, art and theatre. In short, we needed food, conversation, solitude, and pleasant company, all necessary ingredients in civilized discourse.
What else do you do?
GAY has published several books of poetry; broadsides and books are
available. She started a feminist magazine called Fireweed with a group
of exciting women, and was Fiction Editor of the Canadian Forum. She is
a professional member of the League of Canadian Poets, and gives readings and workshops across Canada. Gay offers Reiki treatments for relaxation and calmness. She also offers individual manuscript evaluations and writing workshops for writers. Poets welcome!
GEOFF was Editor-in-Chief of Canada`s best known literary quarterly, Canadian Fiction Magazine, for over 25 years. He has published many books, including a book of interviews with Canada`s leading fiction writers and a short story textbook both with Oxford University Press.