Fairholme Recollections of the Gurd Mansion 1874-1964

Canadian Author W. F. Heartwell BESA BArch • For more information contact: info@fairholmesarnia.ca fairholmesarnia.ca

  • Approximately 480 pages • 9.5” x 11”
  • ISBN (TBD)
  • Price (TBD) CAN/US
  • 2024-25

Fairholme: Recollections of the Gurd Mansion 1874-1964 is a new book by W. F. Heartwell, a retired architect, now author, and a long-time resident of Toronto, Ontario. In his book, he focuses on remembrances of his childhood home Fairholme, which was located in Sarnia, Ontario. The author has been tirelessly researching and writing this book for the last eight years. Although the work on the book was slowed down by the pandemic, it has finally been turned over to his publisher, Words Indeed, with a publication date in late 2024 or early spring of 2025.

"There is a superb book to be created out of this deeply researched, lavishly illustrated, lovingly created manuscript. The information and insights contained are fascinating and illuminating, opening up little-explored dimensions of Canada’s nineteenth-and twentieth-century history. The detailed endnotes, thorough bibliography, and comprehensive index help make this text very useful and readily accessible. With a striking cover, beautiful design, layout and typesetting, fine printing, and hundreds of images, it can be a handsome, invaluable volume”.

John Parry, Editor + Publisher, Words Indeed
January 6, 2024

Fairholme was originally built by Robert S. Gurd, Barrister at Law, in 1874 and seventy years later, in 1944, the author’s grandfather bought it from the Gurd family. Mr. Heartwell is one of a few remaining people alive who has first-hand remembrances of Fairholme having resided at the home for 14 years.

Initially the book was planned to be about 150 to 200 pages long and contain about 50 photographs. Brief histories of the Gurd and Heartwell families would also be included. Fortunately, for the author and the future reader, the storyline extended well beyond the examination of the architecture of the home. The social history of the families and individuals tied to the home became the driving force of the narrative. Now, that book is under going its fourth transformation as it is prepared for publication.

In the beginning, the author could not have imagined that he was about to encounter far reaching documentation concerning events and personalities related to the discovery of dinosaurs in Alberta, Charles Dickens and his book, David Copperfield, the Doomsday’s Book, Tecumseh, Walt Whitman, the Comstock Load, Dr. Livingston of the “I presume” fame, the Stanley Cup, the Minuteman National Park in Concord, Massachusetts, the ride of Paul Revere, a royal wedding, the Group of 7, the Sarnia Art Movement, and Henry Moore to name just a few.

The author found that the historical photographs not only captured the photographer’s original intent, but revealed significant historical content. He wanted the unique character evident in the photographs to be reflected in the text, and decided not to rewrite the original material, but present it as it had been revealed to him. His task would be to provide context and make connections necessary to develop a coherent storyline. Bill has always considered the photographs to be the main focus of the book.

Mr. Heartwell’s experience of writing the book was a fascinating and rewarding one. He has given two talks on the subject — one for the Lambton County Archives celebrating Archival Week in 2017, and a second one in 2020 at the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery in Sarnia as part of celebrations commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Group of Seven and the Sarnia Art Movement. The talk was delayed by one year due to the pandemic. In 2022, the author also produced a fully illustrated calendar to celebrate the building of Fairholme and to raise funds to help move the book forward. Copies of it are now part of the Lambton County Archives, the Ivey Family London Room at the London Central Public Library, and of course, the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto.

Mr. Heartwell is looking forward to the final stages of publication and the launch of his book.

Over the next few months, more details and updates on the book will follow on this site as well as fairholmesarnia.ca.

Release date + pre-order availability of the book to be announced.