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76 POPLAR PLAINS CRES.

76 POPLAR PLAINS CRES.

WHAT: An Arts and Crafts-style house with four bedrooms and five bathrooms in the "Republic of Rathnelly" area of Toronto. The house has approximately 3,645 square feet of living space on a 92.75- by 100-foot lot set against the escarpment created by ancient Lake Iroquois.

ASKING PRICE: $2.129-million

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TAXES: $11,811.46 (2008)

AGENTS: Alison Dyer and Jimmy Molloy (Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd.)

'The Republic of Rathnelly is a great little neighbourhood," says agent Jimmy Molloy of Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd. "It's so downtown and has a feeling of the country."

The "republic" is a tiny slice of South Hill, which is the neighbourhood south of St. Clair and west of Avenue Rd.

It was July 1, 1967, when a band of residents established their own republic after helping to successfully stave off the Spadina Expressway. They still mark the anniversary with a street party.

"They declared independence from Canada as a big joke," says Mr. Molloy, "and they have a big party to celebrate."

76 Poplar Plains Cres. dates to about 1917 but it has gone through many changes over the years.

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Owner Etta Arbeiter-Jacobs says she moved to the area in the 1990s when her children protested at the idea of moving farther away from the centre of the city.

"The law was written that I could not go north of St. Clair. My kids said, 'No hill or dale' in the street name."

At No. 76, Ms. Etta Arbeiter-Jacobs has maintained many of the original Arts and Crafts features, including mullioned windows and some of the brass door knobs and hardware.

The interior has the feel of a European country house.

The foyer has a floor of French limestone with black marble inset and a large English-style mudroom. The living room has oak floors, a wood-burning fireplace with French limestone surround, and casement windows.

In the kitchen, Ms. Arbeiter-Jacobs had the original cabinets stripped of their paint and relocated to the butler's pantry. New kitchen cabinets replicate the original, with French Country details in the hardware and finishes such as hand-painted tiles and terracotta floors.

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Upstairs, much of the second floor is given over to the master suite, with a bedroom, sitting area, walk-in closet and ensuite bathroom. A study opens to a balcony, draped in wisteria, overlooking the garden.

The wisteria, Ms. Arbeiter-Jacobs says, began to bloom a few years ago after much nurturing.

"I've always loved wisteria and I was determined to get some."

The third floor offers two more bedrooms and a bathroom.

The terrain in South Hill is informed by the escarpment that cuts across the Toronto landscape north of Bloor Street, marking the former shoreline of Lake Ontario's predecessor, Lake Iroquois.

"Everywhere you look you see these great trees, great hills, rolling and curvy streets," says Mr. Molloy.

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At 76 Poplar Plains, the back garden is a reverse ravine, set flush against the ridge.

That sheltered position creates a micro-climate which allows shrubs and flowers to bloom a little earlier than they do in much of the rest of Toronto, Mr. Molloy says.

Over the years, the gardens have been terraced and sculpted by Vertech Design and Mark Hartley Landscape Architects.

Features include a waterfall flowing into a fish pond and areas of formal, English-style gardens. Trees in the walled garden include ornamental pear, white pine, blue spruce and weeping cedar. With so many trees, the garden attracts a pair of cardinals on a regular basis.

"You wake up to the sound of birds," says Ms. Arbeiter-Jacobs.

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