I recently finished writing the first part of my biography and this is one of the pages that will be included. (since this article was written, life took a different turn
and I eventually sold the house. I still think about it often and regret having sold it but as I keep saying - 'c'est la vie'- and life goes on. I have lived in many new homes since then, but nothing can compare....some parts in this page have been blurred out)...
Sabina's Port Dalhousie home boasts a dozen Persian rugs from Iran, a 17th century oak server from a monastery in England and a wooden chest, inlaid with silver and pearl, made by nomads in the Sahara desert.
Although the home's original mistress died in 1910, she lives on in Mrs.xxx...'s imagination, guiding her as she restores it to the house which Albert Jones built in 1856..
There are no tears at the loss of items culled from 38 different countries in 12 years of travel. 'When I travelled, I accumulated a lot, because wherever I was, I was desperate to make a home. They mean instability to me,' said the gracious 45-year old woman with a trace of a German accent, as she sat in the rustic kitchen of her Dalhousie Avenue home.
There are two plaques on the outside of Mrs. ...house, one from the Port Dalhousie Quorum designating it historical, the other naming her house 'Solitude'.
Solitude doesn't mean being alone, she explains, it just means being at peace. It is the first feeling of peace and stability she's had in her life.
She was born in Essen, Germany, and endured poverty, bombings and the imprisonment of her father in Siberia during the Second World War. Marriage to ...........xxxxx meant a turbulent 12 years spent travelling the world.
They were friends with members of the Shah of Iran's regime, and were forced to evacuate Iran during the revolution. In Syria, the embassy next door to their house was bombed. In the Bahamas, tragedy struck. Her son was kidnapped, and the youngest of her two daughters was struck with a brain disease, and had to be treated every three months by a doctor in Montreal.
"I have had a very restless life...a very unstable life..." she says without a trace of self-pity. And although she tried to make her family as comfortable as possible every place they went, I have never really had a home."
When she and her husband xxx first came to Canada in 1981, they shunned Toronto for the quiet of St. Catharines, and bought a newly-built $$ 0000000 house overlooking the lake. Sabina says she never felt at home there, and when her husband later left for Iran, she immediately began looking for a real home for herself and her children.
Rather than create a new life for herself, she sought to retreat to another century and recreate a more peaceful, simpler lifestyle. She spent six months searching before she found the house she wanted, in a state of complete disrepair. "When we drove past the house, I said it looked lonely, but very solid and stable amongst the other houses".
Even though it did not look particularly old, she felt drawn to the house. 'When I walked in, it was as if I knew exactly what to do with the house. I said it was waiting for someone to turn it back as it should be."
Sabina said she immediately knew where she wanted walls knocked out, bathrooms installed, windows taken out and doors replaced. She stripped layers and layers of wallpaper and scraped inches of paint to get to the original ceilings and floors. Months of research followed as Mrs. xx began to track down the history of the house. She went to every cemetary in the area to find tombstones and combed museums, libraries and funeral homes.
She was particularly fascinated by Elisabeth Jones, for she found striking similarities with herself. She discovered Elizabeth had died of a heart condition from which she also suffers. She poured over documents in a funeral parlor for hours to discover Elizabeth's coffin was five feet, six inches, while her own height is almost five ft. five inches. And she knows Elizabeth had blond hair like her own.
Sabina has spent countless hours searching antique stores for the right items to fit into her house. She says: I buy things with the instinct of what should be here....I know what Elizabeth would have had..."
When descendents and people who had once lived in the house showed up on her doorsteps, Mrs. xxxxx learned how uncannily accurate her instincts had been.
Sabina was working on a rocker which she intended to put on the front porch when the daughter of one of the earliest owners of the house knocked on her front door.
When she saw the chair, she asked Mrs. xxx where she had found it, and the hairs on her arms were literally standing on end. It was exactly like her mother's chair, Mrs. xxx says. (The rocker was actually discovered in the attic where it must have been sitting for years...).
Sabina was intent on putting a pump outside where it could be seen from the kitchen window. When an elderly man visited the house, he asked whether the pump was still at the side of the house and couldn't believe it was not the same one he had known as a boy there.
Sabina shakes her head. It's mysterious that the things I wanted in the house turned out to be just as they were back then...(end of newspaper article).