Greenwood History Part 4... 
Cecil and Percy Nobbs

In 1849, Captain R.W. Shepherd and his wife, Mary Cecilia Delesderniers built Riversmead, and a decade later, Rose Cottage. Greenwood became a summer residence at that point. What a wonderful spot on the shores of Lake of Two Mountains to escape the heat and noise of Montreal!

Upon the death of his mother, Mary Cecilia, in 1901, R.W. Shepherd II inherited Riversmead. Before we look at the fate of Greenwood in her will, here's a quick anecdote about Riversmead... 

Like his father, R.W. II wanted to make his land pay for itself so he operated "Greenwood Nurseries and Orchards" on the Riversmead property. R.W. grew, packaged, and shipped apples to friends and royalty in the "old country." Popular apples included "Fameuse," "Wealthy," "McIntosh," and "Winter St. Lawrence." 

Apples were considered a precious commodity so R.W. Shepherd II had them packaged individually, like eggs. His apples graced the royal tables at Sandringham and Windsor castles, and during that time were tasted by such royalty as the Duke of York, the Prince of Wales, and Lord Srathcona.

Now, let's go back to the Mary Cecilia's will. Greenwood was bequeathed to Delesderniers (Del) Shepherd, the youngest brother of R.W. Shepherd II. The period of time during which he and his wife, Vicky McCallum, occupied the house is often called Greenwood's socialite period. The couple loved to entertain and hold lavish parties. 

Because they wanted their guests to see Greenwood as "une grande maison," Del and Vicky initiated many renovations. They remodeled the ground floor of the east end of Greenwood, including the entrance hall, the gable bedroom/porch extension, and the east living room. Cedar strip flooring and a new central staircase were added as well.

The highly respected architect, David Jerome Spence, designed the staircase. Visually, it is a work of art and it adds greatly to the welcoming charm of the entrance hall. See for yourself when you come to visit Greenwood in the summer!

Unfortunately, the marriage of Del and Vicky ended in a divorce in Reno. Del, though, stayed connected to Greenwood until his death in 1924.

In the meantime, Greenwood's ownership took an interesting twist. Dr. Francis John Shepherd, a former Dean of the Medical Faculty at McGill University, had originally purchased "Rose Cottage" as a gift for his daughter, Cecilia Shepherd. He ended up exchanging it for Greenwood.

Cecilia married Percy Erskine Nobbs, a young architect from Edinburgh, Scotland. Percy immigrated to Montreal when he was offered the Macdonald Chair of Architecture at McGill University. They had two children, Phoebe and Francis. The family lived in a house designed by Percy on Belevedere Road in Westmount. 

Percy Nobbs is well known for his work as an architect. The McCord Museum, for example, is one of his designs. What is less known is that Percy was an avid fly fisherman, the founder of the Atlantic Salmon Foundation, a skilled fencer (he won the silver medal at the 1908 Olympics), a canoeist, and a hunter. Percy even designed the bridesmaids' dresses for his wedding!

Percy also played a key role in bring the Arts and Crafts movement to Canada. As a follower of this movement, Percy hated the ugly products of industrialism. He believed that new buildings should look as though they had always been there. According to the Arts and Crafts school of thought, everything must be both functional and beautiful. New buildings should never clash with their surroundings; consequently, natural materials such as wood, wrought iron, and stone were preferred.

Cecil and Percy acquired Greenwood in 1924. They decided against tearing down the old house. Instead, they turned it into a comfortable summer home. During renovations, the Nobbs family camped out and used the stone patio area as a summer kitchen. Phoebe, their daughter, used to say that her happiest days as a cook were during those summers when she cooked outside at Greenwood

Click ahead to Greenwood History Part 5: Phoebe Nobbs Hyde 

Click back to History page. 

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