Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Why this artifact-filled room is Arlette Ravet Rigby’s favourite

Arlette Ravet Rigby and late husband T. Alec Rigby, the one-time Canadian owner of Ripley's Believe It or Not!, spent much of their time together combing antique fairs for artifacts to adorn their cottage. Originally built by a lumber baron, the spacious lodge sits on a 36-acre Georgian Bay island that the Rigby family purchased more than 30 years ago. The clan spends summers there together, congregating in the sitting room every evening. "It has long been our favourite room because it faces the water and you can see the magnificent sunsets of Georgian Bay through the French doors," Ravet Rigby says. "At the end of a day out on the water, swimming or just reading, this is where the family comes together to kick back, listen to music and relax in cozy sofas and chairs around the fireplace."

The Tiffany lamp

"My husband got this from the Ripley's collection of artifacts. I love the amber glow it gives the room."

Story continues below advertisement

The couches

"These were custom-made in New York City with the request that they be big, deep and comfy. They are great for lying on and reading a book. You can get lost in them."

The ship painting

"This was given to my husband by the father of a dear friend. When we built the bookshelves to match the original pine panelling, we created a space amongst the books where we could hang the ship painting."

The panelling

"The pine tongue-and-groove walls are part of the original lodge design. We only needed to clean the wood and tone down the varnish to make it look new again. It's amazing considering that when we purchased the island in 1982, [the cottage] had been closed for five years."

The moose head

Story continues below advertisement

"This was purchased in Churchill, Man., on a trip to see the polar bears. It shares wall space with some other animals but it's the most majestic – a true icon of the Canadian north."

The curtains

"These are an Italian paisley from Bergamo Fabrics. The colours work perfectly with the pine and give the room the feel of a past cottage era."

The bear rug

"This also came from Churchill. We waited for a few years to get it because hunters there are allowed to cull only so many animals each year. I love the texture and warmth it brings to the room. These natural elements make the room reminiscent of the old Adirondack hunting lodges."

The wooden lamp

Story continues below advertisement

"This is made from a roller once used for weaving silk. We found them at an antique dealer and auctioneer in Creemore, Ont. I often use the same fabric on the lampshades as the curtains and sometimes the chairs or comforters. It pulls everything together and makes a room feel warm and welcoming."

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author

Deirdre Kelly is a features writer for The Globe and Mail. She is the author of the best-selling Paris Times Eight and Ballerina: Sex, Scandal and Suffering Behind the Symbol of Perfection (Greystone Books). More


The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨