57 ST. LAWRENCE ST., COLLINGWOOD, ONT.
ASKING PRICE: $4.495-million
TAXES: $12,721.76 (2011)
AGENT: Andy Taylor and James Burtnick (Sotheby’s International Realty Canada)
THE BACK STORY
For 100 years or so, seasoned locals in Collingwood, Ont. knew the Breakers as a ramshackle wooden bungalow and local landmark sitting across the road from Georgian Bay and the beach at Sunset Point.
Built in the late 1800s as a private cottage, the Breakers served as a hotel for a time. Local rumours hint at a nefarious past.
When the current owners purchased the property a few years ago, they intended to restore the old structure, which had fallen into disrepair. They learned, however, that a renovation was going to be too costly.
“It was an old house, beautiful in its day, but rickety, with a creaking floor,” says the owner. “Of course, I thought I was going to do great things with it and then we had to tear it down,” he says.
Neighbours and heritage aficionados objected to the plans to raze the old dwelling and build new, the homeowner acknowledges.
“When we had to tear it down, it was a big thing.”
But the owners received approval from the local authorities and, in 2009, construction began on a 7,000 square foot house.
“We built it to last a very long time,” says the homeowner.
Real estate agent Andy Taylor of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada says that by keeping the Breakers name, the owners have maintained a link to its past.
“If it had just been left as derelict, it would have faded in history,” he says.
The owner adds that the new building still attracts lots of attention from passers-by and visitors to Sunset Point Park across the street.
“People stop by and photograph it, just like they did the old house.”
THE HOUSE TODAY
The new house has expanded to three distinct wings with five bedrooms and eight full bathrooms.
Visitors arrive to gates of black wrought-iron. Inside the gates, large stone terraces face Georgian Bay.
Inside, a large foyer features a fireplace and a curving staircase to the second floor where a balcony overlooks the room below.
Next to the foyer, a grand living room comprises most of the second wing and has a ceiling height that soars to more than 30 feet. Three sets of French doors open to the terrace and 11 dormer windows bring in additional light. The wood-burning Rumford fireplace has a limestone mantel six feet from the ground.
“Every room has one magnificent architectural feature,” says Mr. Taylor, pointing out the staircase in the foyer and the cathedral ceiling in the living room.
The three wings are built around an internal courtyard that shelters the inground swimming pool and also provides sunbathers with privacy and protection from the wind. The courtyard also has a stone fireplace, barbecue and areas for dining and lounging.
The west wing, accessed from the foyer, provides rooms and ensuite bathrooms for visitors. A ground-floor guest bedroom has doors leading to the pool so night owls can head out for a late-night swim without disturbing others in the house.
A potting room with a large marble sink also serves as a guest bathroom with two water closets.
In the east wing, a large kitchen, a dining room, and a theatre can accommodate guests, but there is also a private area for the owners. Behind closed doors, they can relax in a sitting room or the upstairs bedroom with ensuite spa bath.
In the master bedroom, doors lead to three Juliette balconies overlooking Georgian Bay.
“They call it Sunset Point because we get lovely sunsets,” says the homeowner.
THE BEST FEATURE
“We have a big family and sometimes we’re all in the kitchen cooking,” says the homeowner.
The centrepiece of the room is a Lacanche range, which was crafted by hand in France.
The floor of black and white marble tiles is heated.
In a room with lots of marble and granite, the owner had a large wood-topped island installed to give an appearance of warmth.
“I wanted the island to look like furniture,” he says of the white-oak top and painted base.
A separate sitting area has a fireplace and offers a cozy place to watch the changing views of the bay. At times, wild storms whip up the water.
“The water changes colours all the time,” says the homeowner. “We get a lot of whitecaps.”