Having coffee and homemade baked oatmeal in a 100-year-old downtown Lacombe home will soon be history as Morrison House Café is set to close this summer.
Owners Chuck and Cindy Bourn will invite the community into their home, located at 5331 51 Ave., for the last time August 30, before retiring and embarking on a new chapter in their lives.
“It’s sad, but exciting,” said Cindy.
“My goal was to make it to the 100-year anniversary of the house and I did. (Chuck’s) goal was to get all excellent’s from Trip Advisor five years in a row and we did. We met our goals and now it’s time to do something else with our lives.”
One of Lacombe’s many “foodie” attractions, the café’s (Cindy’s) penchant for homemade cooking is only matched by the historical significance of the building its located in.
Described as a Colonial Revival residence, it has a symmetrical façade, a gambrel roof and an eyebrow dormer on a third “attic” level that was intended to be servants quarters – just one of many testaments to how much has changed over the last century.
It was originally built in 1919 for W. Norman Morrison – one of Lacombe’s early mayors and business people – and Bertha Morrisson, who would live there until the early 60’s. There have been several owners since, including one that briefly turned the residence into a tea house and etiquette school in 1995.
The Bourns moved in in 2013, looking to be closer to family after operating the Miner’s Café for a decade. With other restaurants in town being based out of older homes such as the Stopping House, they decided they, too, wanted to share their home with the community by opening the Morrison Café on the main level.
“It’s pretty unique. There aren’t many places like this in a 100-year-old home of this type – a really well-made, well-built, home,” said Chuck. “It a beautiful, historic home and we enjoy sharing it and the gardens with other people.”
A smoke room was converted into what Cindy describes as “the smallest commercial kitchen in Lacombe,” while the dining room, living room and back deck were transformed into eating spaces capable of holding around 50 people. A lower-level power room was made into a wheelchair accessible bathroom, but otherwise, the building is in near-original condition which has added to the atmosphere.
“You want three things for your restaurant: a great atmosphere, great staff and great food. I feel like that’s what we have here,” Cindy said. “And I’ve always enjoyed entertaining – I’ve cooked since I was little and whenever there was company or a vacation or anything, I was always entertaining so this doesn’t feel a whole lot different.”
They’ve hosted high teas, weddings, birthday parties, ice cream socials, business meetings, fundraisers and baked more pies and other desserts using fruit from trees in the yard (as well as those donated by neighbours) during what has been a successful six-and-a-half-year labour of love.
However, even with a reduced Tuesday through Friday schedule, they said it was time for them to pursue other passions from spending more time with family, to being able to travel and volunteer more in the community, and reclaim the main level of the home as a living space.
Unless, of course, someone else would like to take the café over, which the Bourns have said they’re open to considering.
If not, their last major hurrah will take place Friday, July 26 where they’ll host a 100th birthday party for Morrison House in replacement of their usual ice cream social during Lacombe Days with free cake and ice cream.
Before their closure, however, they invite all to come in for a bite to eat or to say goodbye.
The café is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. For more information, visit morrisonhouse.ca or phone the café at (403)789-1234.
“It’s been really special. We’ve been blessed to live here,” said Chuck. “We will miss people and sharing our home with them.”
Cindy added: “They’ll be missed and they’ve definitely been appreciated.”