In October 2010, we found a detached brick bungalow in the Danforth East neighbourhood of Toronto with a parking pad. It was about 700 m from Woodbine subway station, steps from the weekly East Lynn Park farmers’ market and full of original features like solid core shaker doors, plaster walls and eight inch baseboards in every room. Since the house was built in 1939, we were just its third owners. According to Toronto census data from the ’40s, the original owners raised two children in this small two bedroom, one bathroom home. We found their son Barry’s name chalked onto a ceiling rafter in the basement and their daughter Betty’s name scratched into a brick on the west side of the house.
Once we moved in at the end of 2010, we primed and painted every square inch at least once (including the double brick walls that we exposed in the basement); installed some new windows, an air conditioner and a gas line; gutted the basement and turned it into a semi-finished family space; erected fencing and a shed; laid patio stone; built a rear addition to connect our main level to our basement; renovated our sole bathroom; reshingled our roof and replaced our eaves troughs; and completed a hundred other small projects so that this small house could work for our growing family. (We added the oversized orange cat in 2014 and a baby girl in 2016.)
Even with all the physical changes we made to the house, some of our most important work was mental. With the exception of the rear addition, which we rebuilt to better connect our main floor with our basement, we didn’t move any walls or make any changes to the size of the house. The master bedroom stayed small at 87 square feet (including the closet that we shared). Frankie Rose’s bedroom was even smaller, just 70 square feet. We had to do a lot of editing in order to fit the things we loved most into our space. We stopped buying anything that could be borrowed (books, tools) or that could be enjoyed electronically (movies, music) and made it a habit to toss, donate or regift anything we found we were not using regularly.
We lived in this little brick bungalow for nearly seven years and in Toronto for over a decade and we loved it there. But, halfway through 2016, Pierre got the inkling that a new role within his company might become available to him and that role would require us to relocate to British Columbia. Everything fell into place in early 2017 and, after a lot of consideration, we decided to pick up our lives, cat and newly mobile toddler and decamp to the West Coast. We traded the cn tower in for the mountains, the sandy shores of Lake Ontario for the pebbled beaches on Dallas Road and, of course, our beloved small house and neighbourhood for a new project.