Asking price: $5,230,000.00
Taxes: $16,297.68 (2015)
Lot size: 60 feet by 154 feet
Agents: Lindsay and Melanie Wright, Re/Max Hallmark Realty Ltd.
The back story
Twenty-five years ago, television producer Linda Schuyler went to look at a vintage cottage with a rare perch on the edge of the sand in Toronto’s eastern Beaches.
Nothing about the interior suited her taste, she says, recalling the dark wood beams and white walls.
“It was so drab,” she says. “The decor all needed to go.”
But despite the gloomy interior, Ms. Schuyler found the view through the windows irresistible.
“The sun was bouncing off the water and the lake was so beautiful and so calming,” she says.
She could also sense an ineffable karma in the comfortable old dwelling, which had been home to only two other families.
“I have to live here,” decided Ms. Schuyler, who was about 10 years into her run as co-creator of the phenomenally successful Degrassi dynasty, which began with The Kids of Degrassi Street in 1980.
Ms. Schuyler learned that the Arts and Crafts-style cottage had been built around 1915, when the Beaches was still a summer vacation destination for people who lived in Toronto. It was built at the foot of Munro Park Avenue, on the land where Munro Amusement Park entertained visitors between 1896 and 1910.
Today, only 14 properties line the stretch of shore beyond the end of the boardwalk. Over the years, the area’s original cottages have become year-round homes.
At times, the house provided more than traditional shelter: When arts funding was chopped and bank credit was hard to come by during the 1990s, the independent producer was able to use the property as collateral for financing such series as Liberty Street.
The house today
Ms. Schuyler has gradually transformed the original cottage into a more spacious and modern house with five bedrooms and four bathrooms.
On the main level are the living room and dining room, with a family room overlooking the water and doors opening to a large porch facing the lake. Upstairs, the master bedroom opens to a large balcony.
Her aim, Ms. Schuyler says, has always been to maintain the “beach house” atmosphere of comfort and ease.
The kitchen was renovated soon after Ms. Schuyler moved in and updated over the years. In 2004, she had a two-storey addition built at the rear to provide a media room, an additional bedroom and a bathroom. There’s also a two-car garage and a coach house that can be used as a studio.
She had the stark interior redesigned with light, fresh paint colours.
About 12 years ago, she added the swimming pool with a waterfall and infinity edge. The sightline creates the illusion of being right in the lake, Ms. Schuyler says.
“The swans will swim by on the lake and I feel like I’m swimming right beside them.”
Ms. Schuyler considers the door facing the lake to be the front door. She always encourages visitors to arrive that way by approaching the house from the garden. A side entrance gives the house a second street address of 1 Munro Park Ave.
Ms. Schuyler points out that Munro Park Avenue has been lauded as one of the most desirable streets in Toronto.
“We’ve got those beautiful, beautiful old oak trees.”
The streetscape on the dead-end street is also very appealing, she points out.
“It’s so eclectic. Not one house looks like the others.”
After a visit to San Francisco, Ms. Schuyler was inpsired by that city’s “painted ladies” to have the exterior of 434 Lake Front painted in seven different colours. The “painted ladies” are Victorian-era houses that have been painted in multiple colours in order to highlight their architectural adornments.
The house has been the backdrop for many celebratory occasions, Ms. Schuyler says, including her own wedding to lawyer and producer Stephen Stohn. The two are also business partners and together they built Epitome Pictures Inc. The company was purchased by DHX Media Inc. last year, but Mr. Stohn and Ms. Schuyler have remained at Epitome as executive producers on Degrassi and other series.
The house and pool have also seen lots of cast barbecues and songwriters’ camps. There have been parties when series have launched and parties when series have wrapped, including gatherings for the mystery series Open Heart and the drama The L.A. Complex, Ms. Schuyler says.
“Particularly in the summer, you can throw the doors open and people can wander,” she says. “It works very nicely for team-building. It’s a party house.”
When she has time to relax, Ms. Schuyler says she enjoys the evenings on the front porch because the sunsets and lake conditions vary so much. The lake will appear clear and calm one day and a windstorm will whip up the waves the next.
“Every night it’s a different view.”
One year, dramatic conditions arrived on Christmas Day and snow drifts covered the beach while surfers took to the huge waves rolling in.
“You never quite know what you’re going to see,” Ms. Schuyler says. “It’s always a moving tableau.”
After many years in the Beaches, Ms. Schuyler and Mr. Stohn have decided to move into a condo unit. They will also spend more time at their farm in the countryside east of Toronto.
“We’re simplifying our city life.”
The best feature
“It’s intangible karma” is undoubtedly the quality she cherishes most in the house, Ms. Schuyler says.
A small platform near the pool is a favourite spot for her morning salute to the sun.
“It’s just very calm and a lovely place to do yoga.”
The house is large enough for parties of 100 and up, she says, but the rooms never feel overwhelming in size.
“It makes you feel good when you’re with people and it makes you feel good when you’re alone.”