In 2014, Pierre applied for a job in Victoria. He didn’t even get an interview, but his application and the discussions that followed had us both daydreaming about living in the Pacific Northwest one day. So, when halfway through 2016 an opportunity requiring a relocation to British Columbia became available within Pierre’s company, he started the long process of angling for it and it all worked out in our favour, eventually. In March of 2017, having just sold our Toronto house, we found ourselves on a direct flight to Victoria, a restless, sleepless baby being passed between us, clutching at the two addresses that interested us and hoping we’d arrive in time to see, inspect and buy one of these properties.
Our first appointment on our first morning in Victoria was to see this sunny, more-than-one-hundred-years-old house (1913) with lots of deferred maintenance in the Oaklands neighbourhood, our first-choice neighbourhood for the cool shops at the Haultain Corners and the community association, which holds a weekly farmers’ market (with a beer garden!) in the summer months and runs a Reggio-inspired preschool. We also learned our neighbours had twins about three months younger than Frankie Rose and that clinched it for us — her future best friends were basically built into the property. We were not going to be able to see the second property we were interested in that day and offers were due on this house the following morning so, after seeing a few other properties just to say we did, we conducted a home inspection and wrote up our offer. We beat out three other bidders and took possession in May of 2017. Despite the home inspector’s warning that “the house need[ed] an immediate investment of time and money to extend its useful life,” we (I) couldn’t have been more excited about its location and potential.
Oak House (so-named for its location in Oaklands, oak floors, oak trees and oak cabinetry) is a two bedroom, one bathroom bungalow just like our first house, albeit not a very little one. The main floor is 1177 square feet, still small by many people’s standards, but larger than we had gotten used to. The basement is equal in size to the main floor, but we have to perform an exorcism on it before we’ll feel comfortable storing our slow cooker down there. We have a small coat closet now, but we’re still very committed to living as minimally as possible and curious to see how that plays out in a home that, technically, has space to spare.
The lot is large — twice as wide as our city lot in Toronto and a little bit deeper — and our backyard shares a fence with the aforementioned twin playmates. That fence is made of chainlink and, like everything else, in need of our attention, but we’re happy to give it to this house, which we will be, if not our “forever home,” a long-term home for us. Moving across the country with a toddler and a sedated cat tucked underneath the airplane seat in front of them would stamp out the wanderlust in anyone, I think.
True to the home inspector’s words, we have spent the past year pouring time and money into this house. It has gallons of fresh paint; a newly level roofline and a new roof; new eavestroughs, soffits and fascia boards; a gas line to the bbq; new on-demand hot-water heater; new light fixtures; new door and cabinet hardware; new kitchen appliances and a new washer and dryer; a beautiful built-in bookshelf that spans the width of the house; new trim in nearly every room; a back-to-the-studs renovated den; all new window coverings; a freshly scraped, primed and painted exterior; and new storm doors. The basement has been cleaned of nearly 8,000 lbs of junk, been newly insulated and upgraded seismically; the landscape has been pruned and a gas fireplace has been installed. Click the Victoria | Oak House category for all the updates.
Photographs on this page by myself and Rachel Alexandra co.