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Greenwood: Its History and Collections: “Remembering Percy Nobbs”

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The Greenwood Centre for Living History is not your typical museum. Donated in 1994 by Phoebe Nobbs Hyde to the Canadian Heritage of Quebec, this dynamic historical property will capture your imagination as you learn about the families who have called this place “home” for almost 300 years. Located in the beautiful town of Hudson some fifty kilometers West of Montreal, Greenwood provides a unique glimpse into the past where visitors are able to travel through time as they move from room to room.

Currently, Greenwood is celebrating the life of Percy E. Nobbs, a talented architect and athlete who was also the father of Phoebe Hyde. Although Percy, his wife Cecil, and their two children had a house on Belvedere Road in Westmount, Greenwood was used as their summer retreat. It had been in Cecil’s family since the 1820s and was given to her by her father, Doctor Francis Shepherd. In the 1920s, Percy added a summer reading room to the East side of the house, which he decorated in the Arts and Crafts style; a style that he himself had established in Montreal after being exposed to the movement in Scotland. Today, Percy’s presence is still very much felt at Greenwood: his watercolours and sketches still line the walls of his old study while the Archives hold some of his personal letters and family photographs. A beautifully crafted china cabinet and marriage bed, both wedding gifts to his bride Cecil, can still be seen by visitors, as can his wrought-iron sculpture of birds, again in the Arts and Crafts tradition. Copies of Percy’s three books, Fencing Tactics, Salmon Tactics, and Design are also on display.

Although Percy Nobbs played a significant role in making Greenwood what it is today, he is only one of the many interesting and influential Canadians who have left their mark on this historic site. Along with the Percy Nobbs Collection, the Centre houses countless other treasures that are just waiting to be discovered. From authentic beaver top hats to delicate Wedgewood china, from First Nations artefacts to embroidered fire screens, each item on display at Greenwood has its own history and significance.

After a tour of the residence, wander through the lakeside gardens. The flower beds, designed by Percy Nobbs, brim with colour from spring until fall and the lawns are often used for summer events, including theatrical productions.

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