Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content


Home on a Humber hillside Add to ...


ASKING PRICE: $3.195-million

TAXES: $22,201.14 (2010)

AGENT: Christine Simpson (Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd.)


As a young architect looking for inspiration, Peter Higgins used to drive around Toronto taking photographs of houses he admired. One he captured for his portfolio was this stone residence in a beautiful setting overlooking the Humber River.

It was a coincidence when, years later, the owners of 79 Baby Point Cres. called on the architect and his team at Peter Higgins Architect Inc. to build an addition to the house.

"It was great to work on a building that I had long admired," says Mr. Higgins.

The house was located in the storied Baby Point enclave, which stands above the area where the Seneca Nation established a village known as Teiaiagon. The natives used the area on the riverbank as a fur trading post in the 1600s.

In 1816, the Honourable James Baby settled on the peninsula which then took on his name. In the early 1900s, the developer Robert Home Smith built a sub-division of grand houses.

The house at number 79 was built circa 1938 to the design of architect Douglas Catto and it was featured that year in Canadian Homes & Gardens magazine. The first owner was York mayor W.M. Magwood.


By the time Mr. Higgins revisited the property about 10 years ago, the house was unspoiled but it in need of refurbishing.

Mr. Higgins found Mr. Catto's design for the building's proportions, stone façade and pitched roof particularly pleasing. For the exterior, Mr. Higgins designed a new canopy over the front door and chose paint colours that brought out the reddy tones of the granite but, for the most part, he recommended that the owners leave the facade unchanged.

"Nothing that was done overpowers the inherent beauty that was in that original design," he says.

The homeowners needed more room, so Mr. Higgins designed a rear addition with rooms that didn't seem out of place next to the original rooms.

"The trouble with an addition is it often makes the old spaces feel dinky or small and the new spaces feel out of touch," he says.

The family asked for a large dining room for entertaining. The spacious kitchen overlooks a sunken breakfast room with doors leading to a flagstone patio. A family room has a colonial-style fireplace with red brick surround.

The architect ensured that the sizes and elements of the new rooms relate to the older, smaller rooms.

The windows have minimal muntin bar detailing in order to keep the view to the outdoors clear.

To keep the home's appearance from the back consistent with the front, Mr. Higgins designed dormers that were proper for the style of the house. With such a large addition, he also wanted to minimize the visual impact so he broke it up into three planes.

Real estate agent Christine Simpson, of Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd., points out that a rear staircase lets the kids in the family have access to their bedrooms and a bit of separation from the parents. The master suite includes a spacious bathroom and a deck with a hot tub.

"It really is one of the most seamless renovations around," she says.


Mr. Higgins believes that the home's great appeal comes from the way it is nestled into its hillside setting. An old stone wall and a majestic tree add to the beauty at the front.

At the rear, the architect tried to have as little impact as possible on the ravine, which slopes down to Humber River parkland below. A stone terrace sits on the edge of the precipice.

"With that view over the Humber River, facing the setting sun, there are just not very many properties like this," he says.

Report Typo/Error

Follow on Twitter: @CarolynIreland


In the know

Most popular videos »


More from The Globe and Mail