Neil Patterson and his family arrived from Scotland in 1820 with his wife, four children and his parents. At the time of his arrival he did not have enough money to secure his land grant until 1834; it is thought that he may have “squatted” here until then. The house that stands on the property today was hauled from the shore sometime before 1864. In 1873 when the new addition to the house was being made, the famous “August Gale” of that year ripped the rafters of the new part to pieces. In 1923 John Patterson, grandfather to the present day Pattersons died of “lockjaw”. His twelve year old son was required to become the “man of the house. He showed a natural talent for carpentry, crafting the dining room hardwood floor by hand. Not only did he cut and lay the floor, but created an intricate pattern that is still there today. This was an incredible feat for a twelve year old, especially before the invention of pre-cut floors. The front room and hall have a ceiling made from hardwood strips; it is not known when this was done. In 1950 the basement was dug by hand to replace the cellar that was below the kitchen. Going into the cellar was a scary thing for the children that grew up in this house. You were not allowed to go under the house with a lamp for fear of fire; the trip was instead made using the light from the kitchen above, which cast eerie shadows on the wall. This made the trip to the cellar below a daunting task. Prior to the basement being dug, the family would build a fence around the house, out one foot from the house and one foot high. They would then “bank the house” with sawdust to keep out the winds of winter. Also during the late 50’s a bathroom and new porch was added to the back of the house. During this time a second chimney was added and an oil furnace was installed; the original chimney and fireplace are still in place in the house. Most of the windows were replaced in the 70s and 80s in favour of more efficient storm windows. Another unique thing about this house is its lack of closets. Most people only had a few articles of clothing at the time when the house was built, and there was no need for built-in closets. One final feature is the dormer on the front of the house. It and the dormer on the “Old House” in Big Bras d’Or are very similar in design.
Vernacular in style, the house has neo-classical and simple Victorian elements. Windows vary from fixed light to double hung (1/1, 2/2, and 6/6) some of the windows feature hoods. All of the original wooden windows have been replaced. Two chimneys are located in the house; one is affixed to an oil furnace and was constructed in the late 50’s. The other chimney is original to the house and features a fireplace. Foundation is fieldstone and concrete. The front façade has a shallow gabled roof.
Located on the Trans Canada highway, the Patterson House is an excellent example of built heritage on Boularderie Island. The last major exterior renovation was made in 1873. It is not known when the original part of the house was built, but it was hauled from the shore sometime before 1864. In 1873 the new part of the house was added. The property has been in the same family of Pattersons for eight generations.
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