For the past 20 years, Winnipeg-born actor Ross Petty has lived in a renovated 1873 farmhouse in North Toronto with his wife, National Ballet of Canada artistic director Karen Kain, and their nine-year-old Maine Coon cat, Eddie.
Surrounded by towering pines, the brick two-storey is a scene-stealer in its own right, but is especially magical at Christmastime, when a large tree and roaring fire command the living room, Petty’s favourite place in the house.
“It holds many happy memories of when our family has gathered on special occasions over the years,” says the producer of The Wizard of Oz, the latest in his production company’s annual series of popular family-oriented holiday musicals, presented this year at Toronto’s Elgin Theatre through Jan. 6. “It’s our oasis.”
“The one behind the couch is an oil on canvas by Quebec artist Claude Picher that shows children skating on an outdoor rink. It reminds me of my childhood in Winnipeg. The other Picher oil, above the piano, depicts an isolated farmhouse in a field of wheat. It mirrors the look of our house as it might have appeared when it first saw the light of day.”
The coffee table
“It’s glass and wrought iron, created by René Petitjean, a blacksmith and artisan based in Creemore, Ont. We love that it has a large surface area but doesn’t weigh the room down. It looks like it floats over the carpet.”
“It is made of pine and is dated to around 1870. It was in terrible shape when I first laid eyes on it. But my friends at Pollikers Antiques, in Greenwood, Ont., brought it back to beautiful life. I gave it to Karen in 1997 upon her retirement as a dancer from the National Ballet of Canada.”
“The large Christmas cactus on the side table is 25 years old. We had it in each of our two previous Cabbagetown houses and then brought it with us to the farmhouse. It has almost expired several times, but I love gardening and have transplanted it on many occasions, keeping it alive.”
“I bought the two tub chairs at auction because I loved the hand-carved mahogany surrounds. The armrests are ram heads and they circle back to the farm theme permeating our home.”
“It’s a 28-year-old Heintzman. It’s not a unique instrument. But it serves to remind me, however ironically, that I attained my ARCT degree in classical piano from Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music when I was 17. I only play it when I have to learn songs for my shows.”