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Journey to the 1830s

Anne LangtonIn its first days of settlement, the Kawartha Lakes had an unusually large number of gentry estates, and for a few years these wealthy immigrants and their employees formed the majority of the population. They soon, however, found that they could not live in the standard to which they were accustomed in the backwoods and all soon removed to larger centres. A few of the wealthiest left behind fine country homes standing proud among the shanties of their neighbours. One by one, these buildings have disappeared, until at present only James Wallis’ Maryboro Lodge and the Dunsfords’ Beehive remain.

While many of these gentry were soon forgotten in the community, the Langtons remain beloved to this day for their artistic, literary, political and philanthropic contributions. Many locals were saddened when their house at Blythe was dismantled, and longed to have Anne’s sketches of the Kawartha Lakes return to the community. As standards of conservation have become increasingly strict, no longer was there public exhibition space in Fenelon Falls suitable for the valuable art and fragile artifacts of the Langton collection.

Henry Vant Erve at work in his shopHoping to return the Langton sketches to Fenelon Falls, many volunteers in the village have dedicated themselves to creating exhibition space meeting modern standards. Assisted by the Legacy CHEST fund of Fenelon Falls, volunteers have overseen the addition of the Roger Bellwood wing to the Fenelon Museum, which includes state-of-the art display and storage space.

When Blythe house was disassembled, part of the butternut paneling that adorned its parlour was saved and is now on display at the Fenelon Museum. Using this sample and historic photographs the Fenelon Museum has modeled its new gallery after Blythe House. As the Langton’s employed local joiners to create the finest paneling they could from their grove of butternuts, modern-day master woodworker Henry Vant Erve has painstakingly replicated the paneling and pine floors of Blythe in the Langton Gallery, set to open in May 2012, in time to celebrate the 175th Anniversary of Anne Langton’s migration to the Kawarthas.

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