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The most photographed house in Canada on borrowed time

October 2022

A once grand house in the southern Ontario Township of Aldborough, south-west of London, is perhaps the most photographed house in Canada, but its days appear to be numbered.

The heavily-weathered boards that enclose the house are deteriorating to such a degree that the east-side of the house is partially collapsed. Once covered in an outer layer of brick, most were removed for safety reasons when they started falling off, leaving only a few clinging to one of the two roof peaks at the front of the house.

Known locally as the Guyitt house, it is located along the Talbot Trail, also known as Highway #3, near the hamlet of Palmyra, and surrounded by a field of corn stalks awaiting harvest. Built in 1842, it pre-dates Canada as a country.

In 1908, the house was purchased by Roy Guyitt, giving the house it’s commonly-known name. Roy Guyitt was born on 11 July 1885, in Orford Township, Ontario, Canada. He married Ethel May Humphrey on 23 February 1910, and they resided in the farmhouse until he died on 27 April 1965, at the age of 79.

After Ethel’s death in the 1970s, their grandson, Peter Anderson, took ownership of the house. It was rented out for a time, but has been vacant since 1985. While the property surrounding the house is still maintained, Anderson was financially unable to maintain the house itself, which has been slowly crumbling over the past 37-years, and is now well-beyond repair.

The house once had a front porch, which was demolished in 2008, when the falling bricks were also removed, but some of the window frames still have hearts, circles and diamonds cut into them.

A circular driveway lined with towering pine trees once graced the front yard.

In the ensuing decades, the house has become a well-known tourist attraction, with numerous people stopping by the property to admire and take photographs of the house, something Anderson encourages, although entering the house is discouraged, due to its deteriorated state.

However, it appears that not everyone is a fan of the old house. After decades of no complaints, Anderson received a registered letter from the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, dated 15 September 2022, advising him that the house was in violation of bylaw 151-2015, which reads as follows: “As in reference to the vacant two storey building at the above Miller property which has been left vacant in excess of six months to become dilapidated and partially collapsed and danger of further collapse, and insufficiently secured to present unauthorized entry.”

As a result, Anderson has two options: either repair the house or demolish it. If not done within 14 days, the municipality can attend the property and demolish the house, at Anderson’s expense. The demolition could cost between $30,000 to $40,000. The order is currently under appeal.

Anderson would ideally like to see the house receive a historic designation, for the woodwork in the boards, the door frames and the trim, then leave it untouched until it falls to the ground. The reason he hasn’t demolished himself is that he appreciates its architectural value, and wants others to be able to enjoy the house and take photographs of it for as long as it remains standing.

How much longer the gothic beauty that is Canada’s most photographed house will be spared from destruction, will likely be decided in the coming year.

Note: The photos were taken through the open windows, as entering the home is dangerous.

Sources: https://www.pentictonherald.ca/spare_news/article_c40929c9-61a8-54fb-a7e9-2faf575a8623.html#:~:text=Canada’s%20most%20photographed%20house%20could,to%20be%20a%20tourist%20attraction, https://talkingwallsphoto.com/houses/guyitt-house-in-palmyra-ontario, https://ancestors.familysearch.org/en/K8QH-X1X/roy-francis-guyitt-1885-1965.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/the-most-photographed-house-in-canada-on-borrowed-time/

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