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Artist hopes to turn heritage cabin into museum

By: Heidi Ulrichsen - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Mar 24, 2014 - 2:01 PM |
A log cabin that was once home to some of the city's first settlers, Dr. William Howey and wife Florence, now sits on Ramsey Lake Road property owned by Juanita and John Stolte. They want to donate it to the city to have it preserved for posterity. Supplied photo.

A log cabin that was once home to some of the city's first settlers, Dr. William Howey and wife Florence, now sits on Ramsey Lake Road property owned by Juanita and John Stolte. They want to donate it to the city to have it preserved for posterity. Supplied photo.

Structure home to some of Sudbury's oldest settlers

Juanita Stolte has spent most of her life within a stone's throw of one of Sudbury's oldest buildings.

In the 1880s, two of the city's first settlers, physician Dr. William Howey and wife Florence, built a log cabin close to the shores of Ramsey Lake, off of what's now Ramsey Lake Road.


It was called Idyl in the Wylde. If that sounds familiar to you, it should: the Idylwylde Golf and Country Club was named after it.

Stolte said her father built a camp on the property next door to the Howey cabin in the 1930s, and she spent her childhood summers there.

Then, in the early 1960s, she and husband John purchased the Howey cabin property. Because they wanted to build a home where the cabin was located, they moved it to another part of the property.

“It was sitting in the middle of a very expensive lot, and we couldn't live in it of course,” she said.

All these years later, though, the Howey cabin still stands, and is in relatively good shape. But Stolte said she and her husband are getting on in years, and want to make sure that this part of the city's heritage is preserved.

“One of these days, if something happens to one of us, we don't want it to be destroyed like so many other things were,” she said.

That's why she's working with local artist Gordon Drysdale, who has an interest in local history and heritage buildings.

Given that Howey was a physician, Drysdale said he hopes the city will turn the building into a museum dedicated to Sudbury's early medical history. He wants to relocate it to the city boat launch, relatively close to the Stolte's property.

Although the process is in the preliminary stages, Drysdale said he's been working with city officials to determine the feasibility of the idea. He's also currently setting up volunteer committee to work on the issue.

Drysdale said he's hoping to obtain corporate donations and organize volunteer labour to fix up the building. In terms of operating funding, Drysdale said he hopes the museum could generate enough revenue to cover its expenses by becoming a venue for local events — art retreats, for example.

“It's probably one of the oldest pieces of architecture left in the city that's still standing,” he said. “It's such a beautiful piece of local history. It's got to be saved. There's no question in my mind, anyway.”

City spokesperson Shannon Dowling said in an email statement the city is excited by the idea, but there's much that still needs to be done.

“We are conducting background research and working with community partners to further explore the find,” she said.

Ward 12 Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann, who sits on council's heritage advisory panel, said she thinks preserving the building is a “great idea,” but agrees it requires further study.

If the museum required operating funding, it would be a major challenge finding enough money in the city budget, she said.

Perhaps the cabin could be moved to the site of one of the city's existing museums, Landry-Altmann said.

“What this is going to look like, I don't know,” she said. “It's really early on. But certainly I support protecting our heritage. We have to.”
Heidi Ulrichsen

Heidi Ulrichsen

Staff Writer

@heidi_ulrichsen

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