One man’s dedication to preserving a piece of outport history inspires more than the imagination
At 30 years-old, Walter Lynch thinks well beyond his years – or is it that he ponders back to, and longs for, the decades before his birth?
Lynch worked in the oil and gas industry all his working life – from Alberta to the offshore – and he’s also had a real estate investment businesses since the age of 19.
Born in Carbonear hospital and raised in Upper Island Cove, Lynch shared he has long had one foot in the past. That passion is what inspired him to invest in a historical home.
“I have always been a person interested in Newfoundland history, especially its architecture. Brigus is the closest town to me that has the old world charm and lots of history and it has always fascinated me and seemed like a great place to own property,” he said.
He offered that he realized he’s “on the younger side of the spectrum when it come to people buying these older homes.”
There are several reasons why, he shared. “I have always been obsessed with real estate, architecture and Newfoundland history. Buying a historical home was just a dream of mine because it combines all my interests.”
It’s been on his mind for quite some time, he added, though it was misfortune that changed his fortunes.
“Back on September 20, 2020 I had an unfortunate accident with a table saw and it left me loosing an entire finger and damaging two more pretty bad. When it happened it was a shock and I thought it would keep me from doing a lot of the things I enjoyed. I told myself I would somehow make it the best thing that ever happened to me by using it as a reason to challenge myself.”
With something to prove, he kept dreaming.
“I wanted to prove to myself that I can not only do everything I did before, I can do it better then ever if I try. This is by far the biggest project I have ever taken on. If I can do this I can do just about anything that interests me, and I will do it,” he said enthusiastically.
‘Not just homes’
Another important reason he wanted to follow his dream of restoring a piece of outport history was because he thinks it’s important.
“The amount of work and skill it took to build these with minimal tools is a true testament to a Newfoundlander’s work ethic,” he said.
“ I hope that other younger people see this and get inspired to do the same or give a boost to someone out there that is currently working on a historical home but need a little boost of motivation.”
Each home has a story, he continued.
“These are not just homes, they are our history. You think of Newfoundland and you think of bright colored salt box and biscuit-box style homes dotted across a shore line.”
‘I loved it’
Why this particular home?
“It was closest to an original example of what I wanted that I have seen for a while in Brigus for sale. Historical-style property rarely go up for sale in that area, and when they do it’s the time to buy. When I saw this one I had it within 72 hours.”
He isn’t on this journey solo. His girlfriend of 13 years, Bailey Pelley, is along for the ride as well. So are a number of friends.
“My childhood friend from kindergarten, Travis Mercer of Bishop’s Cove as well as a good friend, Patrick Parsons of Cupids, are helping,” he said.
And the journey has really only begun. Lynch took ownership of the home at the end of January. Why did he pick the home that he did?
“I loved it as soon as I walked though the door. The floors where uneven, the walls were out of plumb, the exterior was rotted, however I saw the potential of what it could be for the first look.”
As for his vision? It’s a beautiful thing – in his head and heart, at least.
Share his journey
“My vision for the home is for it to feel like you are walking into a new version of itself, as if you’re walking in after it was built in the late 1800s or early 1900s with some modern – but keeping with the era – upgrades such as up-to-date kitchen, bathroom, insulation, plumbing and electrical.
“I also would love to commemorate the original builder in some way in the home to pay respect to the hard work that was required to build the home. As a result of that hard work, we get to enjoy the home today,” he said passionately.
The project has caught the attention of many from this province and beyond and Lynch is happy to share his journey with others who equal his passion.
The reasons are as varied as the beauty of this unpredictable place we call home.
“I think the reason that people are interested in the project is different for everyone. It’s a joy for people in the local area to see an old home being saved. Some love to see the satisfaction of the before and after. Others love it because they have childhood memories of the home or of the people who lived there. Some simply love the history.”
What drives him each day to tackle such a project?
“I’m a very passionate person when it comes to real estate and architecture. I truly believe people see passion through a person’s work and they are naturally interested and attracted to that and want to help,” he said.
As for his timeline for completion? It’s a bit of a moving target, but that’s fine and dandy, he shared.
“The timeline for this kind of project is tentative. My goal is to have it done this summer, however, it will take as long as it takes to do correctly so no rush.”
If you have any doubt about this project seeing completion, then you don’t know Lynch well. He isn’t one to bet against, that’s for sure. If passion plays a role at all, this home will be ready to make more memories in record time.
“Rural Newfoundland is me. It’s where I was raised. It’s in my blood. It’s where I feel comfortable and relaxed. I love the city also at times, but the bays and coves will always be my home.”
Follow Walter and his labour of love project on Instagram @brigusbiscuitbox as well as on the YouTube channel “Discovering Newfoundland“ where there’s a mini documentary of the restoration in progress.