While going to church on Sunday is hardly unconventional, my visit to the little white chapel in the Leeburn Valley today was far from ordinary. The historic cathedral built in 1906 sits alone on the low side of a mountainous hill. The church belongs to Robbie Adamson, local cartoonist, artist, party thrower, and friend. He and his sister recently sold their family camp on Diamond Lake, where he’s been living without electricity, or running water for the past five years, in order for them to both move on to new projects and renovations.
For Robbie this meant purchasing a small country church in Leeburn. Unlike the cabin in the woods, the church is situated on a major highway and thereby accessible by vehicle: no more rowing across the river to get to the City or snow shoeing home in the winter. While the church has electricity it still lacks running water but there’s been a promise to build a well and access fresh spring water form a neighbour’s property.
The structure’s grandeur and solid wooden frame suggest progress and even civilization and are evidence that Robbie’s moved on from woodsman to city boy. While my cynical tone is meant to mock this particular notion of progress, civilization and barbarism, I’m proud of his decision and am in love with how he’s converting the place.
The hardest thing thus far has been deciding how to make the place habitable without destroying the wood interior and open concept that makes the place so charming. Last night he and his sister put in a set of stairs leading up to a loft they’ve constructed. They’ve made two small rooms, one for a bathroom and the other for an office. The rest of the space is wide open. The ceilings are high, there is lots of light that shines through big blue and yellow stained glass windows and the wooden walls and ceilings that make up the interior are in pristine condition for being over a hundred years old.
I look forward to taking another visit and to seeing the progress, but for tonight I’ll dream of the rolling hills and grassy fields in Leeburn valley that lead to the charming little chapel at the bottom of the hill.