The Prospector’s House Press Release

Discover history at The Prospector’s House

May 1,2014 — Haileybury, Ontario–The modern-day history of Haileybury and Cobalt began around 1880 when Hudson Bay Company trader Charles Cobbold Farr noted land on the west shore of Lake Temiskaming. The land rose gently over a hill and was slightly more protected than other parts of the area around the lake. He purchased the land and named it after his school in his native home of England—Haileybury.

The town grew slowly, along with its neighbour to the north, New Liskeard, until in 1903 when silver was discovered in the neighbouring community to the south–Cobalt. The silver there was so rich that a person could peel it off the side of a cliff like boards off an old barn, and pick it up off the ground in clumps. From that point, activity in the area exploded and the boom was on. Hotels went up and accompanying businesses, and homes were constructed everywhere. Many of the prospectors grew rich as well as the mine managers. Cooks became millionaires. The area was wild with possibilities.

The homes that sprang up were built with wealth in mind, and timbers from as far away as British Columbia were shipped in to construct solid and lasting homes for the newly rich. Fire and time has now driven some of these tributes to the ground, but there are enough remnants of that amazing period that the ideas of the past can still be seen. Nicole Guertin and Jocelyn Blais have been lovingly purchasing and restoring some of these homes and providing them for the rental and enjoyment of people who wish to visit.

One of their most recent acquisitions has been The Prospector’s House in Haileybury. A simple family home came on to the market and through vision, commitment and talent, Nicole, Jocelyn, and certified interior decorator Renelle Laliberte of Toronto have, in Nicole’s words, given the house a soul.

Visitors to the home will now be able to capture the spirit of the past, and the prospectors who explored every inch of the region.

The colours and textures of those times, the elements that would have been at hand for those prospectors, have all been tastefully and colourfully incorporated into that home ready to transport guests back one hundred years into the silver boom of Cobalt.

Renelle, who owns the young, fresh company of Renelle Design, said the design started with the prospectors. Bringing her strong background experience of working with others to create a unique custom design that specifically reflects their needs and tastes; she began the project of creating a home that would reflect the lives of the prospectors of the past.

Her passion for such projects drew her thoughts “deeper and deeper into antiques and the raw materials,” she related. The design style for the home is country-rustic, blended with history and art from the area, she said of the elements she wove together to create the home’s unique style.

It seemed serendipitous when she contacted Nicole to book a room at another of the Presidents Suites historic homes Nicole and Jocelyn own in Haileybury. They needed a professional to assist in designing The Prospector’s House, and the opportunity that presented itself there was as clear as the glitter of silver or gold exposed by one of the prospectors.

Renelle commented, “For me it was quite an opportunity to have the chance to design something that blends so many aspects.” What she found herself doing, she said, was “blending in a whole community and the history of one hundred years in quite a private and quite intimate setting.”

The result is unique and reflective of the history of the region, as well as its modern-day spirit of a strong and vibrant art community. Renelle observed, “Everybody can feel a passion within it because you have so many aspects represented.”

Well-known artists such as Lionel Venne and Laura Landers have artworks within the rooms of this welcoming home.

In the loft, there is a special nod to the living quarters that prospectors would have used. Renelle said that as she was working with the raw materials, the earth colours and the barn wood textures, she thought, “What would be really cool would be beds that would come out from ropes coming from the ceiling. The ropes were a good idea,” she said of the result. The ropes provided the inspiration that guided the design process.

Everything in the home is designed from scratch, Renelle said. The draperies used in the home are designed to reflect the rope element. She gave long and serious thought to even the smallest detail of the buttons used in the draperies. She wanted the buttons to look like rope material. That would have been too expensive to create, but metal buttons covered in burlap create exactly the sought-after effect.

Every floor of the home has a distinct identity, while still carrying the overall message of The Prospector’s House, noted Renelle. But throughout the home, “the ropes carried everything.” In some areas, the colour theme is of earth colours. In other areas it is the red of the nearby iron mines, while elsewhere the colour theme is dominated by grey, beige and taupe. Renelle noted that designing the home was a budget-conscious project.

The names of prospectors are being used in the home, to intensify the experience of living among them. “This project allows us to provide an experience,” said Renelle. She expressed her pride to have “not only given the owners a beautiful home, but I also have had the privilege to give this experience to everybody who comes here time and time again.”

Through the spirit of the home, and the many men whose names will be discovered here among the rooms, it is hoped that the visitor will find in her or his heart the igniting of that same spirit to explore and to discover the treasures of the region.

The home offers the guest four bedrooms and a loft, private bathrooms, workstations, a family room and rec room, a conference room, and laundry room. Antiques from around the area and from the families of the owners and other close friends, have been added to bring authenticity to the home. A 1903 piano beckons in the front room. Some of the furnishings are discovered pieces, and their latent beauty and unique but appropriate character has been brought forward through the process of repurposing. Plumbing pipes have been beautifully repurposed as curtain rods and other fixtures throughout the home. In recent years, a Haileybury convent was transformed into residential units. Doors from the convent were obtained and installed in the house. Because many elements have been recycled, the project is very “green”, noted Renelle. “This is a new tendency in design which we are seeing more and more.” More of Renelle’s thoughts, as well as clips of the Prospector’s House, can be found in a video called “Design – The Prospector’s House” on YouTube.

Historic photos further serve to bring to life the prospectors whose vision, courage, intelligence, knowledge, strength and sometimes simple stubbornness and sheer luck and timing, managed to open up the North and produce the wealth that created not only a community, but strengthened an entire nation.

The history of the region can be rediscovered, beginning in The Prospector’s House.

For more information contact:
Proprietor Nicole Guertin
Presidents Suites – Box 1380
Haileybury, ON P0J 1K0
(705) 622-0279