On Wednesday afternoon, five-year-old Cora Denne went up the ladder and walked inside the yellow 103-year-old house sitting on wooden posts on her family’s property and picked out which of the five bedrooms would be hers.
The home had arrived on Cora’s family’s farm that morning at 4 a.m., and it will become the family home to Cora, her brother Keenan, 2, and her parents, Katie and Kyle. The Dennes own Holly Hill Farm, but there has never been a house on the property and they’ve been driving back and forth from the farm to their home in Willow Point since November, 2011. Katie and Kyle were going to build a house on the farm but it never worked out; what has worked out for them is a unique story of an old farmhouse in Victoria that will become a farmhouse once again.
Katie and Kyle found their home last fall and had it moved from Oak Bay. Katie and Kyle were visiting Katie’s brother in Victoria for Halloween, and Kyle was sending Katie links of houses that could be moved. There had been about a dozen other people who were interested in the house and quite a few people had put offers on it, but it wasn’t deliverable because of its width.
“Most of the houses they move are 34 feet or less, and they call anything more than 37 feet ‘hell on wheels’ and this is 50 feet,” she said. “One guy in Nanaimo was going to cut it right in half and they were going to cut it in a couple pieces but it still wasn’t going to work.”
Katie and Kyle decided they would just “throw in an offer”, and then they got a call back and found out that the house could be delivered three different ways. They didn’t wait long before making the decision to go ahead and buy the house. Nickel Bros. Moving Ltd. began moving the house from 430 St. Patrick St. in Oak Bay on Feb. 18, and it was loaded onto a barge Feb. 20 and towed to Campbell River. After spending a couple of days at the dock, the house was driven up to Park Road on Feb. 24.
“It was such smooth sailing,” said Katie. “The move went really smooth until they hit Park Road. That was way more difficult because they had to raise every line. It was challenging because the house is 50 feet wide.”
As soon as they came onto the property, they had to hook an excavator onto the truck to pull the house in because the truck’s wheels would have spun on the soft ground.
“It started at midnight, and we were here at 4 a.m.,” said Katie. The five-bedroom, 3,000-square-foot home has 10-foot ceilings downstairs and eight-foot ceilings upstairs and wood floors.
“We’ll be banging nails and putting a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears into it,” said Katie who is excited that her family finally has a house at the farm.
“We operate a business here, this is our livelihood, this is our passion and this is where our kids love to be and where we love to be,” said Katie. “This is our home and now we actually get to be here. The farm itself, when I bought it from my grandparents, I was like ‘that’s where I want to raise my kids; that’s the life I want them to have.’ Now we actually get to be here, which for a while I wasn’t sure was ever going to happen unless I moved into my fifth-wheel. We’re pretty lucky. We feel very, very blessed.”
Katie’s grandparents, Danny and Mary McKenzie, bought the farm in the early 1950s. Katie and Kyle bought the farm in November 2011.
Katie is a teacher who teaches special education students, and she started teaching kids on the farm, combining her love for farming and her love for teaching.