by Edith Cody-Rice
As many Mississippi Mills residents know, the Naismith House is up for sale. Not only is this the childhood home of James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, it is a beautiful classic Georgian residence.
Reports I have read repeatedly mention that James Naismith was actually born in a different house on the property, giving the impression that the current structure has nothing to do with this iconic figure. Indeed, James Naismith was born in a wood frame house which had been the home of the Young family, Scottish immigrants and the the maternal grandparents of James Naismith. They occupied this house until the stone house was completed in 1855. James' mother and father, Margaret Young and John Naismith established a home on Calumet Island in the Ottawa River after their marriage, but in 1870 both parents died of typhoid fever, orphaning their three children, Annie, Robert and James, who came to live with their grandmother and uncle at the stone house, now known as the Naismith House.
Fortunately for the house, owners took an interest in restoring and preserving its gracious lines. Marianne and Greg Smith, who bought the house in 1988, undertook a laborious five year porch restoration relying on an old photograph from 1890 for guidance. The house had another piece of luck when it was purchased in 2002 by expert antique dealer Elizabeth de Snaijer and her partner Rick Edwards. Elizabeth ran a high end country style antique store in the Victoria Woolen Mill for several years and has a purity of taste instantly recognizable. Her meticulous attention and excellent taste is evident throughout the restoration and additions to the Naismith House. They waited years to find a period bannister for the staircase, installing it just recently.
With the installation of the statue of James Naismith on Mill Street this summer, the home should be a magnet for visitors. Almonte is fortunate that Naismith's childhood home is so classically beautiful and that owners have restored its glory.
The living room of the Naismith House – note the deep set windows which at one time held shutters. Two rooms were opened up to create this one airy suite.
Rick Edwards enjoys a coffee in the former summer kitchen now converted into the all season kitchen. Note the tribute basketball to James Naismith on top of the cupboards to the right of the photo.