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Family heeds the call of historic Oak Bay farmhouse

Oak Bay didn’t exist when Island Road home was built

The front door of a historic Island Road home opens into a living space featuring a large brick fireplace and hearth. It seems an ideal place to hunker down and get cozy as a family – once the dust has settled.

At the start of December, each room of the two-storey historic home sits shrouded in demolition remnants, as Rumon Carter and a handful of helpful friends dismantle much of the old and worn interior.

After renting in the community the last four years, Carter and partner Jennie Sprigings took ownership of the home Dec. 1.

The family, including daughters Pippa Whitfield, 14 and Evelyn Whitfield, 11, makes quick work of required upgrades to make the home livable.

They plan to move in by the New Year.

They were forced out of a second rental in recent years – looking at the rental market versus housing market – real-estate seemed the better option. So in May, they started looking around for a place to set family roots.

It was tight.

The three-bedroom, two-bathroom search set up by their real estate agent yielded few results.

“This didn’t come up,” Carter says with a laugh, seated on the porch of the home. “We didn’t just want to move into just anything. We wanted to make sure it was us.”

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They wanted something to fit their values and esthetic, so he opened the parameters a bit, and poked in the corners of the search values.

“I didn’t want to miss something that could have been ‘the thing’,” he says.

Carter was pretty sure he found it in the home that existed before Oak Bay did. He fell in love with the place as he cruised through the photos and considered the stories it might hold.

It took some time to get the rest of the family on board.

Carter looks forward to creating family lore in a home that already comes with a century of stories, as one of Vancouver Island’s oldest settler homes. Built in 1896, the house and its sister next door – literally built for the original owner’s sister – were the first on the street, then a rural, woodsy part of Victoria.

Carter learned many of its stories while researching the home to sell the notion on the family and has learned even more meeting neighbours since.

When Carter shared the find with Sprigings, she told him he was bonkers – but she came around.

“I was starting to write the story of what it could be,” Carter says.

It was a tough sell on the girls, but as part of a tech-savvy generation they did a little poking of their own, with one zooming in on the badly discoloured clawfoot tub. The word creepy came up a lot, Carter admits with a chuckle. The sisters bowed to their own curiosity and love of a project, coupled with friends living nearby and the ocean four blocks in either direction.

The last person living there was a tenant for more than 30 years, and the home hadn’t left family hands until now. While Carter is at it 12 hours a day to make the historic house a home, the rest of the family helps when they can. The four have already started creating new stories with tidbits are online @islandroadfarmhouse on Instagram.

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Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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