One of the few remaining "loyalist era" homes in the Maritimes is a charred heap of rubble this evening.

 A fire broke out this morning on the Kingston Peninsula, north of Saint John.

Firefighters from five departments fought the flames, the wind, and also the cold, but efforts to save the historic building were unsuccessful.

"Very difficult,” says Chief Randy Gowlett of Long Reach fire department. “Trucks freezing, difficult temperatures, everything freezing up.”

Now all that remains of one of the oldest homes in New Brunswick is a swirl of smoke and ash.

The home has been in the Whelpley family since the 1850’s.

“A lot of the stuff was quite old,” says Sean Whelpley, whose father was currently living in the home. “All I was worried about was dad getting out. Everything else was monetary. I'm not worried about that,”

His 88-year-old father, Stanley Whelpley, suspects it started in the wall around the woodstove.

"I could hear something in the wall, or sounded like in the wall,” explains the home owner. “So I stepped behind the stove, and put my hand on the wall, it wasn't warm at all."

The house was a well-known historic property on the Kingston peninsula. Inside it was full of antiques, some that were hundreds of years old.

The building went through many transformations, at one time it was a hotel and riverboat stop.

Sean Whelpley says it was an old home when his family took it over.

"My great grandfather was a sea captain and owned his own sailing vessel.   He was here in Saint John so he came up the river and bought the place in 1853.”

Inside was all the furniture the family brought from England in the 1850's, along with countless historical documents, diaries and heirlooms.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron.