Ross began building his replica of the Maud Lewis house in 1998 and finished one year later. He built it for himself and at first didn’t consider it might become an attraction for locals and tourists alike.
He said it was a nice surprise when it did and again when more people started coming after the Maudie movie was released.
“I always liked Maud’s art and her story and I built this to help me remember what it was like,” he said.
Ross met Maud as he biked past her house at the age of 10. She invited him inside and he was instantly hit with the smell of turpentine.
“It was something I wasn’t used to smelling. I’m glad she invited me in, because my ten-year-old brain really wanted to see inside,” he said.
Ross knew others who knew Maud and Everett as well, like his friend Percy Walker, who was gifted a wheel by Everett after it popped off his car.
The wheel now sits inside the replica of Everett’s workshop, with a plaque beneath it dedicated to Walker, who didn’t live to see the replica completed.
“I never thought to buy one of her paintings when I was young, but having this here is pretty neat,” he said.
After Maud’s passing, Ross spent many years thinking about her story and his memories with her.
He built the unit and included Everett’s workshop and their mailbox, built big enough to receive packages.
Most of the items inside the house were donated by people around Digby or bought second hand, and were commonplace during the period Maud and Everett were alive.
Ross did all the painting himself and said it took some time to learn how to replicate Maud’s style to a convincing degree.
“Her house was her biggest canvas,” he said.
The house also includes photos of Maud and Everett, showing them inside and in front of their house.
Everett wears the same shirt in each of them, which led Ross to a new theory.
“I honestly believe he only owned one shirt! He couldn’t always plan to have the same one on before people showed up, so it’s definitely a possibility,” he said.
It’s a common thing for visitors at the house to share their own memories with Maud and Everett, according to Ross.
With so many to choose from, he finds it hard to pick one to talk about. One that stands out involves a man who asked Everett for a piece of his wall.
“There was a deer painted on the wall, and after Maud’s passing this man asked Everett if he’d cut it off and sell it to him. Everett did just that,” said Ross.
Another involves a nurse who visited the house and told Ross her story of being with Maud during her last visit to the Digby hospital before her death in 1970.
Maud had asked the nurse if she could have paint to paint with, but the nurse thought that would be too messy.
Instead, the nurse brought her markers to sketch with. Maud gave the nurse the sketch and passed away shortly after.
“I know so many stories about Maud just from listening to the people who come here. It’s something special,” said Ross.