Staircase up to church
Late Fall at St. Mark's
Viewed from the from the southwest. In the background is the former rectory. The tower-top strapping is a protective measure until further consolidation work is effected--whether conventional engineered scaffolding and steel tie rods through the stone, or if a much more affordable exterior steel strapping proposed by a local stone mason (trained by his Polish father) proves more effective.
Spring at St. Mark's Hall
Apple trees in blossom at the front of St. Mark's. The often large quantity of apples, can provide copious preserved fruit throughout the year. To the grounds we added grape vines, as well as cherry, pear, plum and apricot trees.
Catering for friends partaking in a workshop retreat at St. Mark's. The crockery and silver cutlery came with the former church--an 80 piece set from commemorating the 1939 Royal tour. It was bought for a wedding held at the church in 1940 and was used at our own wedding in 2003.
The chancel now forms the formal dining space (the nave used for particularly large gatherings). A Lye & Sons (Toronto) tracker organ of 1901 (installed 1911) is on the left, and in the background is the altar reinstated to its original position (with original hangings).
organ in use
Me making an attempt at playing. At slightly below standard pitch proved excellent for the Baroque music of Purcell for our wedding (played superlatively by Paul Jenkins), and has also been played beautifully for many local fund raising events.
View of lower hall
This living space was renovated in the 1990s with drop ceilings, fluorescent panel lights and sanitary finishes for a day care. We removed and insulated the ceiling, replaced forced air ducting with hot water radiators which is more efficient for masonry structures, eliminated a false wall to enjoy interior stone walls and consolidated and repointed it, and used a combination of 'traditional' antiques and those inherited from family of the 1950s-70s.
The lower level is an open concept space so this sleeping area is iven privacy with bookshelves, and in another area altar rails (put on end to form a screen) and reredos from other religious structures in the area.
Lavender from garden
Tied into scent filled posies for drying. This is just one example of the produce used from the St. Mark's gardens.
Grapes from the arbour
The grapes we planted are supported by a pergola made from old ladders and lathe- strapping repurposed from the renovation of St. Mark's. The concept of the 100 mile diet, has sometimes been for us the 50 m diet with fruit trees, perennial herb patches and a vegetable garden created with organic material from the property and town to reclaim the land of the former parish parking lot.
Tower in the Autumn
The orange-leafed maple tree is a like a phoenix. It started as a seedling, emerging from the decaying stump of its forebear. The lamp in the foreground is a recycled standard from the town and lights the entire front property. The upper level houses a 1-tonne bronze bell of 1888 (when the town was incorporated) from the McShane foundry of Baltimore. It was rung at our wedding for the first time for the town to enjoy in years.
The large west window (2 x 5 m), features St's. Mark and John. The unusual colours of celadon green with pink cabochon inserts, is particularly vivid during autumn afternoons when rustling exterior leaves make the window shimmer.
Edgar in Deerfield MA
An architectural historian and heritage property owner doing what comes naturally--checking out other heritage sites.
Pamuk arrived in 2001 after following my sister home on a cold, snowy night north of Ottawa. He is now the gentle elder of our feline pride. He was named by Alevi Turkish refugees we hosted at the request of a New York City Episcopalian cleric friend. Pamuk means cotton, reflecting his soft, fuzzy fur. The Turkish friends now co-own a multi-million dollar sports bar, she works at an embassy, and their 2 children are involved with sports and activities well loved in Canada.
His favourite activities are snuggling and playing, which even override eating. Although originally only a foster, when I was head of an animal welfare group, he did not get adopted because of the need for an hypo-allergenic diet. He soon wiggled his way into our hearts, including my mother as he gave her much comfort, particularly while calmly visiting her in the hospital over several months.
Cleo is the most gregarious cat we have ever come across. Sometimes she behaves more like a puppy, wanting to be with you and interact with you--constantly. Because she is so sweet, she often gets away with far more than any other cat. She was literally dropped off into my arms by a neighbour who found her but could not keep her.
Interior of the Tower
The 3rd level (of 4) of the tower. The interior of the tower has been expertly repointed with historically appropriate mortar. This level makes a wonderful warm-weather reading, work and even sleeping space. It is illustrated on the opening page of my website and business cards.
View from St. Mark`s Tower
View south to the Bay of Quinte, from the 3rd level of the tower. The pyramidal roof is of the Deseronto Post Office.
Deseronto Post Office
Seen from the waterfront, this large building housed not only the Post Office, but formerly also the Indian Agent (for the adjoining Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory), Customs for the bustling harbour, and caretaker`s apartment--featured prominently in F. Itani's novels 'Deafening' and 'Tell'. It was built in 1901 to the design of the Chief Architect's Branch of Public Works, and recently restored with a lot of pushing in my role as Town Councillor.
Deseronto Yacht Club
The Yacht Club is of great appeal to photographers, offering great possibilities of colour, setting and patina of age. It is the last vestige of Deseronto's extensive harbour infrastructure. The former marina was the west-most point of the temperamental, salt-water loving, 'The Boat Who Wouldn't Float' by F. Mowat.
Milkweed (grown in my garden) can be used in several stages: the early shoots like asparagus, the flower buds before they open like soft broccoli (when the flowers open they have a beautiful smell), and the immature seed pods like okra. This shows the buds, which are cooked in two batches of water to remove the 'milk'. With all these benefits milkweed is good not just for Monarch butterflies.
Persian rice pudding
The only dairy in this style of rice pudding is a small amount of butter. They flavouring is of almonds, pistachios, rose water, cinnamon and saffron. It is garnished with pomegranate, and served in a 1950s Dansk container purchased at a yard sale--one the many vintage serving options at St. Mark's.
This traditional, braided, stacked Christmas bread, with a candle, forms a ceremonial centrepiece of the table.
The shortbreads here are not cookies or even bread, but a traditional beef organ cut delicacy. Here they are shown wrapped in bacon on skewers.
Entrée in a pastry urn
'Ris de veau à la financière au vol-au-vent.' It was introduced to France by teenaged Catherine de Medici when she became Queen in 1523. From a family of vastly wealthy Florentine financiers and bankers she brought gastronomical luxuries unheard by the French. This dish includes sweetbreads, truffles, carved mushroom caps, olives and veal quenelles, all served in an edible flaky pastry urn. I made my first version at age 23, self-taught from the Time Life international cook books.
My 1st attempt at age 23 of this salmon entrée, encased in brioche dough like Beef Wellington. The multi-layered filling includes wine poached salmon (all bones removed by tweezers), savoury dill-flavoured crêpes, mushrooms and velouté sauce. It's an haute cuisine adaption of a Russian dish. With all the compound sauces and components, it takes 3 days to prepare. The tinfoil vents allow the interior to breathe during cooking and permit butter to be poured inside just before serving.
In addition to architectural history and heritage planning, Edgar's additional pursuits include Baroque dance and photography, early music choral singing, (notably as a chorister and board member for Melos in Kingston and stage director for their pre-Lenten Carnival concert). He also trained himself in French haute cuisine from the books of Time Life and then Julia Childs (somewhat in the manner of the movie Julie and Julia--but decades before) which offers great delights for entertaining and special events for friends (including charitable receptions, retreats or even weddings). His current specialisation is in vegetarian and gluten-free ingredients featuring local seasonal produce from the St. Mark's garden or local producers.
Until 2019, St. Mark's Hall in Deseronto, was the residence for Edgar, his spouse Paul Robertson (also an historian), and a pride of affectionate cats. Formerly an Anglican Church, it was constructed 1878-88, to the design of Frank Darling (an architect of national note whose firm designed many buildings for the University of Toronto, Anglican Diocese of Toronto, and the current Centre Block of Parliament in Ottawa). Restoration has included protection and consolidation of all 26 stained glass windows (one 2 x 5m) as well as the other 33 windows/openings, extensive repointing of the limestone masonry, replacement of all mechanical services and roof, adaptation of the lower level as an open concept core living space, and extensive landscaping. The opening page shows the repointing of the tower interior.
Click here for a history of St. Mark's Hall
In his small home town of Deseronto located between Kingston and Belleville a short distance south of the 401 by the Bay of Quinte, he served two terms as a municipal councillor and focussed on Economic Development, Transit—now an award-winning regional rural public transit system (serving as chairperson of the management committee for most of its history--on going), the Quinte Conservation Authority, and Archives Board. Edgar was part of the organising team for Deseronto Doors Open 2011, and provided most of the architectural text. Click here for the link.
At a local charitable level he also ran an animal welfare group for the town and surrounding area, concerts at his residence for local charities, and is active in the local Mohawk Anglican Parish of Tyendinaga (which includes the Chapel Royal to the Mohawk National Historic Site)--including serving as a Warden and on Parish Council for many years.
Watch Edgar Tumak`s lecture on Youtube:
Deseronto Lost: Absence of Architecture