A great deal is known and has been written about the old Lea and Elgie homes in our community but very few of us are aware of the story of 422 Heath St. East in Bennington Heights.
Built about 1910 or 1911 by Joseph Daniel, a stonecutter, it was occupied by him and his family until his death in 1959. Joseph Daniel was born in a log house three doors away at 428 Heath East where his daughter Josephine Daniel Lee lived with her family until 1959.
The original Daniel property consisted of three or four lots on Heath and one or two on the present Lumley Ave. An old survey shows a barn at the rear of the property.
In 1959, 422 Heath was still a typical Ontario farm house: a side hall plan with a small parlour in front of a slightly larger dining room, a kitchen and pantry behind the hall together with a shed and a stoop on the back. There were four bedrooms upstairs around a central hall and a bathroom with a cast iron claw foot tub that was still in use until at least 2004.
The house was heated by a coal furnace with no duct-work, just two grated holes, one large metal one in the downstairs hall and another smaller one in the upstairs hall. There was no insulation and no storm windows.
The kitchen had a low enamel sink and a plate on the chimney where the old woodstove pipe had exhausted the smoke to the outside of the house, and no cabinets, . While there was a driveway to the back yard there was no garage.
In June of 1959 Jim Bacque, who was to become a well- known author, novelist, publisher and historian, and his wife Elizabeth saw a handmade for sale sign tacked to the old oak tree then in front of the house and purchased it as it was as described above, from the Joseph Daniel’s estate, for $14,000. Prior to moving in the Bacques did extensive renovations, which included wiring, heating, plumbing and insulation as well as gutting the kitchen and enlarging the living room.
Of course the renovations didn’t stop there but have continued up to the present day. Does this sound familiar?
James (Jim) Bacque wrote many of his books in this house.
The Bacques sold 422 Heath in 2009 after owning it for 49 years. Today there is a large new home at 428 Heath where the log home in which Joseph Daniel was born once stood, but apart from an added garage the exterior of 422 is much the same as it was in 1911.