Admiration is a subjective experience, but is no doubt elevated when you can take grandeur and make it accessible by making it refreshingly down to earth. This is precisely the experience one has when wandering the sublime streets of the quietly elegant and intelligent neighbourhood of The Annex. Can you imagine enmeshing yourself in such a community, where your own roots contribute to this sense of history and good taste? And what if your home was an extension of that divine combination of rich history and rich visuals? Owning a piece of a neighbourhood that originally housed Toronto's wealthiest residents, that has evolved with its own momentum over the years to be "the" epicentre of urban cool is an exciting prospect. Even though this multi-unit residence is ready for a refresh, this merchant class residence retains much of its original architectural elegance.
Welcome to 410 Brunswick Avenue
Since its construction by developer Simeon Janes in 1886, The Annex has traditionally housed the upper classes and the intelligentsia of Eastern Canada. Today, it's all about a heterogeneity to this beloved neighbourhood. It's vibrancy draws its synergy from the University of Toronto to the south, fashionable Yorkville to the east, as well as the dynamic retail and café culture that runs the expanse of Bloor Street West. This is a place where most anyone feels comfortable and where everyone feels alive, active, and importantly, entertained. It has some of the most stately homes in Toronto, which offer visually arresting viewing. Whereas one might associate "stately" with "stodgy", the opposite is true in this supportive, inclusive, and super-cool community.
It's not surprising that this borough emanates this intelligent electricity. Some of Canada's most notable icons have called The Annex home, including the Eaton and Simpson families in the early 20th century and, in more recent decades, brilliant minds like poet Dennis Lee, author Margaret Atwood and environmentalist David Suzuki. Writers bpNichol, Howard and Marian Engel, Austin Clarke and Matt Cohen have also called it home--to name a few; musicians, thinkers, comedians, politicians, captains of industry, and faculty and students of the University of Toronto.
Homes in The Annex typically feature pyramidal roofs, turrets, recessed grand archways and wooden spindled porches. Over the years, many of these dwellings were subdivided into apartments or multi-resident housing (as is the case with 410 Brunswick). Today, properties like these are experiencing a rebirth in their housing evolution, being re-converted back to substantial single family residences for a new generation of cultural intelligentsia. And of all the streets in The Annex, it's coveted Brunswick Avenue which features some of the best architectural examples of urban grandeur from this era.
This home is not just about amazing architecture. It's about amazing amenities too. Stroll south to savour the five-star foodie destination that is Harbord Village, or another five-minutes to embrace the multi-cultural culinary destinations in Kensington Market. More directly local (i.e. a five-minute stroll) is nearby Bloor West, with Spadina Avenue to the east and Bathurst Street to the west, where everything in between lands you smack in the middle of everything you need for a convenient, cool life. There are loads of eclectic eateries, perfect for meeting with friends or date night. Lately I've been popping into watering hole Grapefruit Moon with friends to taste their microbrews before we go to the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema!The proximity to the University of Toronto means student pubs (and non-student pubs) abound. Within a short stroll is traditional alehouse Pour House Pub and British pub the Madison Avenue Pub. Public transit is very close on both Spadina and Bathurst, offering one of the key amenities that contribute to convenience and quality of life. What's the other key amenity along with access to public transport and shopping and eating amenities? Proximity to green space, of course! Less than a five-minute stroll is St. Alban's Square, which has nice bike paths and greenery in the midst of this urban setting. Equidistant in the other direction is Jean Sibelieus Square, which features a children's playground and ample green space.
At the same time as construction of Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church on Bloor Street West was under way by Henry Langley and Edmund Burke, 410 Brunswick Avenue was being completed just steps from Jean Sibelius Square and the corner of Wells Street. Retaining much of its stately exterior, I love the bay window, the charming porch and the original front door. The moment you walk in you can tell this house was constructed for the affluent. The original coal fireplace, paneled woodwork and majestic carved newel staircase certainly creates an elegant first impression. Many of the original features have survived like the wainscoting in the 2nd floor study, the stained glass detail window of an owl across from the entrance from the old formal dining room, the master interior newel staircase with its quarter landings and well hole, and the half-coffin butler stairs between the main and second floors. The original lathe and plaster walls and ceilings and all-original hardwood floors throughout, as well as some of the retrofitted gas sconces pepper the interior with old world charm,
Last traded on June 1st, 1973 to Eino Tikkanen, this property has been used as a rooming house with 9 units: four of them have their own kitchens, the remainder share one joint kitchen per floor, and the washrooms are all shared. Having been operated as a licensed rooming house since then, the property is currently tenanted by long term tenants. Please inquire about their tenancies, many of them are leaving before the end of July. For nearly the last 50 years, the Tikkanen family have kept the house in remarkably unchanged condition from when it was acquired. Serving their tenants dutifully over the years has been a corner point of Eino’s work for the community, and now as part of his Estate the grande old home is open to a new life for a new age in The Annex.
For those who value history, the abundance of original details will surely impress. The patina of paneled walls, vintage cabinets, leaded windows and original baths each hint at possibility. For those seeking an opportunity to restore and elevate a character space into something fresh, this merchant-class residence - on a generous lot with mutual right-of-way drive - offers the potential to become a magnificent 5 bedroom family-home.
Wouldn't that be amazing?
Want to know more about this unique urban home and one of the most coveted pieces of Toronto real estate? Contact email@example.com for more info!
Do you much about the neighbourhood and its amenities? Here's our Neighborhood Page on The Annex, including our flavour video, the city census data on the area, plus several past blogs on area amenities! Or check out our other Neighbourhood Pages! We love unique urban homes in the City of Toronto!SOLD