15 August 2010

Family home delivers "Stories from Sam"

Excerpts from the Bugle-Observer (Woodstock NB) 13 August 2010
Charles Reynolds' book shares tales of his great-grandfather and the history of his home and community
By Liz Foster

Charles Reynolds doesn't need a museum or a genealogy expert to take a glimpse into his family's history. He only has to look around his Avondale home. "The house is a virtual treasure trove," Reynolds said.

The house, built in 1873, has been in Reynolds family for five generations.

"My grandmother never threw anything away," he said. "There are thousands of pictures, diaires and journals. Everything is stuffed away in boxes, desks and corners."

The bulk of those diaires and journals belonged to Reynolds' great-grandfather, Sam Barter. The diaries contained a detailed description of Barter's life beginning in 1871 and ending in 1963, his family history and the history of his home community of Avondale.

When Reynolds retired, he moved from Ottawa to the family homestead. He decided transcribing his great-grandfather's diaries would be his retirement project... "To be really permanent," Reynolds' explained, "the diaries needed to be printed. It just somehow seemed the right thing to do." The book, Stories from Sam, was based primarily on Barter's memoirs. Despite the fact that Barter reached only a fifth grade education, Reynolds said his narrative techniques were "remarkable". "He could tell a tale and he loved doing it."

With the book now complete, Reynolds is focusing on his second retirement project. "I wanted to see, despite decades of my negelct, if the house was saveable," he said. "I've been very fortunate and house is still solid."

Since renovations began, Reynolds has been uncovering new treasures every day. A hand-painted floor was discovered when he ripped up [linoleum] in the pantry and local newspapers from the 1920s were uncovered [under] a carpet... "I keep coming across these treasures," Reynolds said. "That's the wonder of this house..."

house under renovation in Avondale
Reynolds tore down many of the additions made to the home throughout the years in his attempt to restore the house to its original appearance.