Gammell House
Kempt Head Road

The land grant for this property was issued to William Gammell, on January 22nd, 1864. When he passed away, his wife inherited the property. She deeded it to Phillip Morrison when she died in 1889. He likely built the house approximately five years later. Phillip and his brother Murdock were stonemasons- they probably built the foundation. The house was built in a more modern style than most. Its large kitchen made it a popular location for dances in the community. The house remained relatively unchanged since Phillip Morrison's time because it was used exclusively as a seasonal dwelling until its current owners bought it.

Architectural Comment

This house was built in a classic Cape Breton farmhouse style, and has retained many of the visual aspects of its original state.

Contextual Comment

The current owner uncovered a three inch diameter hole in the rock of the house’s foundation, extending 22 feet down from the location of the old hand pump in the kitchen. Fraser the Lion MacKenzie had drilled it with a spring pole drill from the inside of the kitchen (through bedrock and sandstone) to reach water for the pump. He traveled around to different houses, and employed himself by grinding the rock to install primitive plumbing. Used as an outbuilding on this property is the summer kitchen once attached to the nearby MacAulay house. That house was constructed of original live lumber, wood that was run through the saw once, then leveled with a hatchet and used for construction. Birchbark was used as insulation under the walls in this house, and it was the only plastered house on Kempt Head at the time of its construction. Wideboards were used to build the kitchen, and a sandstone circular block was installed around the chimney, above the ceiling. The summer kitchen retains its original doors and windows. The property also contains the ruins of the Kempt House, situated at the intersection of the Government Wharf Road and the main Boularderie road. The owners, for which Kempt Head is named, likely ran a store near the house. The schoolhouse was also originally situated nearby.

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