11 Bursthall Street - The Clairmont/Frost House - 1854
Built in 1854, the Clairmont/Frost house might be the third oldest house in town, the oldest being Dr. Parkin's built in 1825, and the Nichol house on Main St. holding second place. Attracted by the iron works, Charles Clairmont Sr. and his brother Eli Clairmont, both blacksmiths, came to Marmora from Quebec, to set up shop. They built this house and the blacksmith shop at the corner of Bursthall & Matthew Streets. After the shop was destroyed by fire, the house was moved north to its present location at 11 Bursthall Street.
Here's what the newspaper wrote about the house and its family in 1929:
"Thousands of footsteps resounding on the sidewalk outside of the spacious, well-timbered Clairmont home, Marmora's oldest residence, are heard daily by it two inhabitants, Missess Selena and Louise Clairmont. Situated at the intersection of Bursthall and Matthews streets, the ancient building is passed by more people than any other house in the village.
Seventy-five years ago, Charles Clairmont and his brother Ely, village blacksmiths, built the dwelling that today is the home of the former's daughters, previously mentioned. The iron works, in operation at the that time, had induced the Clairmont brothers to move to Marmora from Quebec. Charles hailed from Berthier, while his wife is a native of St. Elizabeth. (ELY EVENTUALLY ENDED UP LIVING AT 70 FORSYTH ST)
Their original home, which stood on the brow of McGill Street, was destroyed by fire, which also claimed one of Marmora's oldest stores.
BOUGHT AN ORGAN - Charles Clairmont was musically inclined, though no musician. On moving to the new residence, he purchased an organ, then available for $200.00. Previous to that, he had been intent on his oldest child being able to play. An Englishman, Benjamin??Domes, village division court clerk, was teaching a class of 15 to play a four octave melodeon. Selena was the only one to finish the course.
When the new organ was installed in the Clairmont home, the new musician practiced constantly and was eventually appointed organist of the family church, Sacred Heart. Later her younger sister, Louise, succeeded in this position. Miss Selena never attempted singing, but recalls many occasions when she had acted as accompanist for local soloists. One in particular was James Atkinson, whose services as a priest were often in demand at many public social functions.
Younger Louise also sang to her family and occasional community gatherings. She was fond of painting and some of her creations still adorn the walls of the Clairmont home.
INVALID FOR 8 YEARS - And although she has been an invalid for the past eight years, she maintains that old humorous cheery spirit known in year gone by. Any visitor that comes to the house to entertain her gets it all back in good measure. In the corner of the room stands a piano bought when the organ became slightly impaired. When company is present, Miss Selena is always anxious to play the piano. And the visitor cannot help but marvel at the dexterity of the fingers of the pianist who has seen more than 80 years slip past, and has solely done the housework in recent times.
Four children were in the (Charles) Clairmont family - Selena, Fanny, Charles and Louise. Fanny died a few years ago and Charles has a home of his own, leaving the two sisters only inhabitants of the old homestead. Never before have the Clairmont girls been interviewed and they showed gratitude and wonder at the interest taken in their home and themselves. Clairmont remains a beacon of goodwill and cheer to those who have time to visit it.
(May 2017 - A recent letter from Clark Callear advised that Ely's son, Edmond, born 02 Feb 1862 in Marmora, was his great-grandfather. , Eli's family consisted of his wife Matilda, children: Joseph (later Mayor of Gravenhurst), Mary Luc, Philadelph, Mary Ann, Edmond, Delia, William, Dolly, and Louise. The Clairmont family were also known as Clermont, Claremont, and Clairmond. )
The house was eventually bought by Roy and Catherine Frost. Roy was a well known hearty fellow who worked for Marmoraton Mine and the Union,and was an electrician, while Catherine was well known as a guide leader.