Life Beside the Covered Kissing Bridge


An 1890 farmhouse beside Ontario's last remaining covered bridge north of Waterloo gets an eclectic update.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of  OUR HOMES Region of Waterloo p.24. Find local businesses in our Waterloo directory.
Every year, thousands of visitors travel to West Montrose, north of Waterloo, to visit its famous Kissing Bridge, the last wooden covered bridge in the province and the oldest covered bridge in Canada. Author, television personality and cocktail enthusiast Dee Brun and her family simply need to look out their windows.
Their handsome farmhouse sits about as close to the bridge as you can get. They can hear buggies and horses clip-clopping across the bridge and their covered porch has a stunning view of the Grand River flowing underneath it. “There’s something special about living with Canadian and Ontario history in your front yard,” says Dee. The bridge itself was built in 1881. In about 1890, the buildings at the mouth of the bridge – now Dee’s home, garage and gift shop, The Olde Bridge Place – were constructed. They’ve all gone through many iterations since then. 
Dee and her family have lived in this home for four years, moving from downtown Kitchener. They saw this old farmhouse with the wraparound porch and fell in love. 
Updates began at once. Dee and her husband removed a half-wall in the dining room to open up the space and redid the powder and laundry rooms. Dee prioritized the creation of an extra-deep pantry, and Bricon Contracting helped her rejig the main-floor layout and borrow space from the laundry room and closet to create the storage she was looking for. Finally, their home was starting to take shape – from a very business-like space to a family home.
“Everything about working with homeowner Dee Brun is fun, from her flair for all things pretty but with an edge to her vivacious personality. Working at the property was a treat in itself,” says Shannon Walls of Bricon Contracting. “The renovation was in keeping with the style that has existed at the edge of the bridge for so long.”
The kitchen is an important space in the home, not just because it’s so centrally located and well-used by the whole family, but because Dee also uses it for work. She partly picked her beautiful white countertops from Blackstone Cabinetry Inc. with photography in mind. 
Dee says she didn’t want everything in the kitchen to be too linear so she sought out some rounder shapes to soften the space, such as the oval dining table she designed and had Timber Barn construct, her new backsplash and the lights over the island (from Urban Lights). Similarly, Dee – who loves to be bold – selected a standout red Bertazzoni stove to top off her kitchen reno.
With a little bit of a cottage retreat in mind, Dee installed light-toned flooring (from Zimmerman Custom Flooring in Elmira) and finishes that evoke a waterside retreat. “Even though we’re not at the beach, we are on the water,” says Dee, “and it’s absolutely our favourite place in the world.” Outside, they have a gazebo for al fresco entertaining – and  entertaining is her specialty. Dee knows how to set a great table and pour a great drink.