This is about relationships.
First and foremost, it's about the one between Stewart Daymond, now 80, and his friend, internationally renowned architect Joseph W. Storey, who died suddenly in 1975 at the age of 52.
The two men had been neighbours in Chatham, Ont., where Mr. Storey began a successful modernist architecture practice in 1947. When Mr. Daymond's aluminum and plastics business whisked him away from his colonial-style home on Victoria Avenue - which had a rear addition designed by Mr. Storey - to an Oakville rental in the late 1960s, he began looking for a lot with the idea of hiring Mr. Storey to design a home.
It wasn't a completely untested idea. Mr. Storey had already done a house for Mr. Daymond's parents and the results were impressive; also, you might say Mr. Daymond's relationship to modern architecture was a direct result of knowing Mr. Storey, who designed hundreds of buildings in Southwestern Ontario: "I didn't see anything that he'd ever done that I wasn't fond of," says Mr. Daymond.
So, when he finally found an exquisite waterfront lot near the border of Mississauga and Oakville after enduring a few expensive years as a renter, he allowed Mr. Storey to come up with the design he thought best, since there was much trust between the two friends. "I understood early in the game that he must have somehow picked my mind, so I just let him go," remembers Mr. Daymond with a smile.
In fact, the only requirements were that the home have an intimate relationship with Lake Ontario and that the floors wouldn't mess up his enjoyment of jazz: "In my Chatham home, it was all conventional structure, and as an audiophile, I always was annoyed because I had to stealthily walk across floors to keep the [turntable]arm from jumping." Mr. Storey's solution was to create floors using an innovative system of long, pre-stressed, prefabricated concrete units, which had to be lifted onto the site by crane. A steel frame further solidified the structure.
According to architectural records Mr. Daymond has saved, construction of the more than 6,000-square-foot home took place in 1973-1974. In 1975, Stewart and June Daymond and their four children opened the front doors for the first time to behold wide, open-tread staircases leading to two different living rooms - one with a commanding view of Lake Ontario through massive windows and the other with a view of the in-ground pool - lined in creamy, strata-striped Ashlar limestone (probably from quarries in Queenston, Ont.), a jolly yellow-laminate-faced kitchen with a window-wall practically shaking hands with a tree in the front yard, warm wooden ceilings, the usual Joe Storey "trick" of borrowing space by sliding interior walls past glass ones to continue their journey outside and an intuitive floor plan.
In a word, it was breathtaking.
The fact that the Daymonds had been collecting classic modernist furniture since their Chatham days - Eames chairs, loungers, a Marcel Breuer Wassily chair, a Saarinen dining table - and had paintings by the likes of Tom Hodgson of Toronto's famous Painters 11 group made Mr. Storey's design even more breathtaking.
It still is today. In fact, when architect Kim Storey (Joseph Storey's daughter) received a cryptic e-mail from Mr. Daymond this past summer stating "I've been living in paradise ... do you know what I'm talking about?" she knew exactly what he meant. Though she'd seen Mr. Daymond's "paradise" before - once while under construction and still a student at the University of Toronto and then a second time at a wedding the year after Mr. Storey had passed away - the offer to view the work as an adult was too special to pass up.
During her walkthrough, she noted similarities to her 1957 childhood home and the differences in the materials her father was using 15 years later. And even though Mr. Daymond surely knew these things already, she pointed out that his was a rare piece of architecture: It's the largest home Joe Storey ever designed, it's the only one in the GTA and, since the office was involved with larger projects such as the Kent County Municipal Building and the Chatham Civic Centre by the 1970s, it's also the last residence he ever designed.
"Dad really did take a very personal interest in this house," she says. By taking a personal interest in it herself, Ms. Storey gets to continue a cherished relationship that was stolen away too soon.
There's another relationship at play here, too, and that's the one between Mr. Daymond and the house itself. After over three decades in this architectural masterpiece, you might say he's as intimate with every nook, cranny, shaft of sunlight and dent in the baseboards as Sinatra was with the songs of the Great American Songbook. But instead of Sinatra: A Man and His Music call this "Daymond: A Man and His Storey."
While sitting on the balcony serenaded by surf, birdsong and a gentle wind rustling the trees, the laughter between Ms. Storey and Mr. Daymond makes it clear that this house will forge many more relationships to come.