Cottage of the Week: $550,000 for an island retreat with stone walls

Address: 9350A Second Concession Road
Neighbourhood: Amherst Island
Agent: Janet Grace and Susan Henry, Royal LePage Pro Alliance Realty, Brokerage
Price: $549,000

The place

A 12-sided home on Amherst Island, with three bedrooms and one bathroom.

The stone walls are so stout they look like they’d survive a nuclear blast:


The interior of the cottage has an open floor plan, with a huge wall of windows in the living room:


Building your house around a giant central support column of stone and mortar opens up some interesting roofing possibilities:


There are three bedrooms. Here’s one of them:


And another:


And the master bedroom, which is lofted above the living room:


And the lakeshore:


The history

A local stone mason built this house over the course of seven years in the late 1970s, laying every stone himself. The sellers added a new chimney and wood stove in 2012, and they updated the bathroom and kitchen.

Big selling point

The property includes a huge amount of land: 139 acres, with 380 feet of Lake Ontario shoreline. (That translates to only about $4,000 an acre.) There’s a possibility of rental income: previous owners have rented the pasture to sheep farmers.

Possible deal breaker

The stone walls, so meticulously laid, are definitely a dominating feature of the interior aesthetic. Anyone who prefers the look of drywall may not feel comfortable here.

By The numbers

• $549,000
• $2,870 in taxes (2015)
• 380 feet of shoreline
• 139 acres
• 3 bedrooms
• 1 bathroom

Condo of the Week: $900,000 for a live-work loft with a celebrity-filled past

Address: 245 Carlaw Avenue, Unit 410
Neighbourhood: Leslieville
Agent: Stephanie Nause, Keller Williams Referred Urban Realty, Brokerage
Price: $899,999
Previously sold for: $423,168, in 2009

The place

It’s the type of artist’s loft you see in films, with beautifully beat-up concrete floors, 14-foot ceilings and industrial-sized windows. There are three bedrooms: one hidden behind a garage door and two tucked behind the kitchen.

The place sort of redefines “open concept”:


The seller’s knick-knack collection is incredible:


There are two smaller bedrooms with lofted sleeping areas. Here’s one of them:


And the other:


Between the two bedrooms, there’s a dressing room with some interesting wallpaper:


The master bedroom is off the main living area:


There’s an office area on the upper level that looks like it could serve as a makeshift DJ booth:


The history

Ingrid Johansson, a model turned photographer/director/producer who goes by the moniker Miz Monday, bought this live-work loft in a former chewing gum factory in 2009. She has photographed celebrities like Leslie Feist and Kit Harrington in here. She has also rented it out for wrap parties and TIFF junket interviews with the likes of Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall.

Big selling point

There aren’t a lot of true live-work buildings in Toronto. This loft has a huge open space that can accommodate a crew, but also some closed rooms that allow for separation between professional duties and life.

Possible deal breaker

There’s only one bathroom. Although there’s space to add a second, it would require approval from the building’s condo board.


By the numbers

• $899,999
• 1,631 square feet
• $842 in monthly maintenance fees
• 3 bedrooms
• 2 loft beds
• 1 bathroom
• 1 parking space
• 1 den (on the second floor)
• 1 walk-in closet

The Chase: A couple search the east end for a home to share with their dog (and possibly some kids)

Charlene Genno and Michael Isaacs. Charlene Genno and Michael Isaacs.
 Portrait by Erin Leydon

The buyers: Charlene Genno, a 32-year-old designer at Figure3, a strategic design company, and her partner, Michael Isaacs, a 36-year-old account executive at software sales and consulting firm Intelex Technologies.

The story: In 2014, after dating for a year, Genno and Isaacs bought a stacked townhouse near Warden and St. Clair. The following year, he surprised her with Odin, a miniature Australian shepherd. Having the dog made them notice, for the first time, their neighbourhood’s dearth of parks. They also became acutely aware of their house’s overabundance of stairs, which made getting out for dog walks a chore. Figuring it was time to move, they set a budget of $580,000, and looped in family friend and agent Michelle Read to help them scour the east end for a home with a backyard for the pooch and enough space for kids in the future.

Option 1

The Chase: Option 1
Roseheath Avenue (near Coxwell and Danforth). Listed at $589,000, sold for $620,000.
On first glance, this two-bedroom semi seemed perfect—but an awkwardly tiered deck dominated the backyard, leaving little green space, even for a small dog. Plus, there was no parking, meaning they’d have to fight for a spot on the street. The couple decided not to bother making an offer.

Option 2

The Chase: Option 2
Wiley Avenue (near Donlands and Mortimer). Listed at $599,000, sold for $745,000.
An online photo gallery made this two-bedroom semi look spacious. During a visit, however, Genno and Isaacs found the kitchen uncomfortably small. Once again, they didn’t bid—and they couldn’t figure out why the house sold for $146,000 over its asking price.

The Buy

The Chase: The Buy
Warden Avenue (near Kingston Road). Listed at $474,000, sold for $527,414.
Genno came across this one-and-a-half-storey bungalow while driving to the dog park. It had only ever been owned by one family, who bought it newly built for $6,000 in 1949. Its details were perfectly preserved, right down to the mint-condition 1951 electric stove and the decorative circular window in the front. The lot was huge, at 31 by 102 feet, making the house ripe for expansion. They offered $520,700 before upping their bid to $527,414 to edge out a competing bidder. They took possession in February.

3 Things we learned at Easter Seals camp

*Picture of team from CENTURY 21 In Town Realty and CENTURY 21 Canada

How can you truly experience the direct impact of your donations to a cause? We got a chance to walk in Easter Seals kids’ shoes, as we laced up our sneakers and headed to their summer camp in Squamish, BC.

Easter Seals children and their families live with physical and cognitive disabilities. Our guide at this fully-accessible camp was Paul, a 20-year camp veteran turned volunteer. He shared stories and gave us a tour of the incredible activities the camp offers, most of which are completely inaccessible to these kids in their daily lives.

Here, anything is possible.

Here are three impacts of camp we discovered:

1. Camp lasts a lifetime

How meaningful is a location to someone when they choose it as their final resting place? Camp Squamish has its own memorial garden for past campers. When Paul’s best friend (one of his co-pranksters at camp) passed away last year, he chose his ashes to be buried here. The place and people here had meant that much to him.

Paul likes to sit here and reminisce about the good times they had together, jumping out of cupboards to scare camp counselors. Paul said he was grateful to camp for bringing him together with others who truly understood his challenges, as few outside of camp do.

These camp friendships and the social support they provide go beyond the one-week session.

2. Camp says “Yes” to kids who are used to hearing “No”

Donations provide a lot of firsts for kids who are used to hearing “No, you’re not able to do that,” in their daily lives. Camp Squamish has BCs first full-accessible treehouse and a pool with special wheelchairs that can go into the water. Trampolines are flat to the ground and children who cannot physically stand can sit instead, while councilors bounce around them so they can experience the bounce too.

Paul told us about one camper who wanted to tent camp with everyone else in the forest, but he required a breathing device that needed electrical power. The councilors made a chain with all of the extension cords they could find and made it happen. Now, they’ve installed an electrical outlet right beside the tenting area, so all kids can experience an outdoor slumber party.

Outside of camp, these children get used to feeling like they can’t partake in many activities. At Easter Seals camp, they learn that anything is possible.

3. Camp is so much more than fun (but it’s really fun, too!)

We attended camp with the team from CENTURY 21 In Town Realty in Vancouver. While meeting the campers and walking the grounds, we reminisced over the silly camp songs like the ones written on the walls, watching the kids slip and slide (the Squamish fire department actually showed up to hose down the runway with their truck!), and learning to do new things, like crafts and rock climbing.

Camp was still a part of all of us. It helped us build confidence to go out and try new things, to learn we could do more than we imagined, and that fun and friendship stay with you forever.

This is the true power of donations to Easter Seals and the CENTURY 21 Kids to Camp program. Squamish hosts one of 16 camps across Canada. All donations to Easter Seals stay within each province and support local families and their communities.