When Bob and Janice Clark arrived at the entrance of Kildonan House with the intention of viewing the property as their next venture, Janice noticed a familiar name.
“A plaque at the entrance indicated that the house was originally called the Irwin Gunn Home and that’s my mom’s maiden name, she’s from Goderich,” explains Bob. And that wasn’t the only familial connection, it turns out.
The house, located at the corner of Kirk and High Streets in Clinton, dates back to 1867 when businessman Richard Irwin returned to the area from the United States and began construction on the Italianate villa. His second wife hailed from Virginia, prompting Irwin to name the villa Washington House. Richard Irwin was Bob Clark’s great-grandfather.
In the early 1900s, the home changed ownership. This time, Dr. William Gunn took possession as he moved to the area to start Clinton Public Hospital. He eventually used the present-day parlour and the adjoining office (currently Bob’s office), as his medical practice. The house took the name Kildonan from Dr. Gunn’s hometown in northern Scotland, Bob explains.
Today, just as it was under the Gunn ownership, the venue is a spot for charitable events and afternoon teas. Bob and Janice recall the trousseau tea party they organized for the Red Hat Ladies from Bayfield to celebrate the royal wedding of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, to Prince Harry. Money raised supported the women’s shelter in Goderich.
Under the property’s various owners, the villa was used as a boarding house for visitors to the area – the board of health, medical students and more. Today, Bob and Janice operate Kildonan House as a bed and breakfast with four suites, each complete with en suite bath and one apartment-style option.
Previously owned by an antiques dealer, the house remains resplendent with collectibles from bygone days. The collection includes period pieces dating back to when the home was built in 1867. Some of the paintings in the home date back to the 1800s. A gilded mirror made in France in 1790 hangs in the hallway. A baby grand piano designed for use on ships and once sailed on the Manitoulin Ferry linking the island with Tobermory has found a place in the ballroom. Another white French provincial baby grand piano sits nearby.
The second storey balcony overlooking the entrance to the property is ideal for a sunset drink or afternoon tea while imagining days when previous visitors would arrive, whether for medical purposes or after a busy day at work. These days though the saltwater pool just off the coach house calls to guests looking for a bit of relaxation.
With the Clarks’ keen interest in supporting the local food and drink scene, Huron County wines and beers and locally roasted coffee are available to guests throughout the day. They’re up to speed on all things related to fine food in Huron County too, serving locally sourced ingredients as part of their breakfast options.
But they had us at saltwater pool and local white wine! 71 Kirk St., Clinton. www.kildonanhouse.com