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home of the week
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3 Riverside Trail, Toronto

Asking Price: $7.59-million

Taxes: $22,528.00 (2022)

Lot Size: 130.25 by 301.75 feet

Agent: Motria Dzulynsky, RE/MAX Professionals Inc.

The backstory

It was French mathematician René Descartes who said that “Perfect numbers like perfect men are very rare,” and the same can be said about houses.

When Michelle Hull first saw 3 Riverside Trail it struck her as far from perfect, but for her mathematician husband, John, it was exactly the kind of rarity he appreciated.

“My husband saw it first and he said ‘We’d be crazy not to buy it.’ I was asking does it have a powder room on the first floor [Note: it does] and he said, ‘I don’t know, but I know we have to buy this house,’” Mrs. Hull said.

The house has a beautiful exterior clad in stone and loads of woodwork on the interior, but when she first visited it also had wall-to-wall deep red carpet on the main floor and running up the grand staircase.

“You walk in and it’s like ‘Oh my god, what kind of business do they run in here?’ To me it looked like a brothel,” Mrs. Hull said. “Luckily when we took out the carpeting the wood flooring was in perfect condition. I have to say, my husband looked beyond the red carpeting.”

Mr. Hull is a University of Toronto Rotman School professor who has written textbooks in risk management and derivative pricing, and did his bachelor’s and masters at Cambridge University. The home’s pale stone evokes some of the style found in the newer buildings on that 800-year-old campus.

But there were other charms, including having your own piece of the riverfront of the Humber. “Our part of the water is an inlet,” Mrs. Hull said. “We do have a floating dock. We have had canoes and one of those zodiac’s, that was kinda cool. Now we just have a little rowboat in the shed. Over time, we got less ambitious.”

As they scaled back their riparian adventures so to are they ready to scale back their living situation. After 20 years at Riverside, they want to downsize.

The house today

  • Home of the Week, 3 Riverside Trail,

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From the street the home is an imposing two-storey stone manse at the top of a circular driveway with bay windows flanking the formal entrance. Off to the right is an attached garage/coach house with separate entrance for the apartment above.

The foyer is a festival of detailed millwork and wainscotting that continues into the central hall and then into the formal rooms flanking the entrance. All of the doorways and windows in this space have modest arches, which adds a bit of Hobbit-like character.

Listing agent Motria Dzulynsky’s research says the house was built in 1930 by Robert Francis Caulfield, president of Caulfield’s Dairy (founded in 1888 by Samuel Caulfield and sold in 1929 to the American dairy operation The Borden Company Ltd.). There’s an almost decadent feel to the woodwork, and the proportions of the home are grand for today’s era let alone the 1930s.

On the left from the foyer is a formal sitting room with a large fireplace anchoring the outside wall (with another curved arch). This is Mr. Hull’s chess room, with table set up in the front window: “We spend a lot of time in there, he even recently tied with a grandmaster, he was very proud,” Mrs. Hull said.

On the back of this space is a separate room and office space with views of the ravine.

On the right from the main hall is the formal dining room with more arches – including glassed in display nooks built into the walls – and a separate entrance into the kitchen.

The kitchen was one of the biggest renovations the couple undertook, removing a fireplace, changing the cabinets and adding an island and in-floor heating. The wainscotting and dark oak trim does not continue into this space and they also removed a maid’s staircase that accessed the second level. “It was taking too much space for the kitchen and there’s no chance I’m going to have live-in help,” Mrs. Hull said.

The windows at one of the two sinks were also changed to enhance the view for Mrs. Hull: “I’m short, I need them a little lower,” she said.

The kitchen also features a large windowed dining area and both spaces open into a family room/TV watching seating area. This room is entertainment central for the couple’s families and colleagues, and there’s a walkout to the large deck with glass railings that connects to the back garden below.

The basement is all tiled floors with a bathroom, utilities, a mudroom and a large games room with room for a snooker table, table tennis, another TV nook and a full bar. There’s a walk-out at ground-level to the garden.

The second floor has more of the original woodwork and arched windows, and the landing at the top of the stairs is generous enough for another formal sitting area with ravine views. There’s a balcony off this space, that one of her sons was fond of.

“He was very into stars, so he’d spend a lot of time up there. A couple times we locked him out by accident. Luckily he has the cellphone: ‘You guys keep doing that!,’” Mrs. Hull recalls. Both the balcony and the landing also have unobstructed views of the occasional lakeside fireworks displays.

For the In-laws

The two-bedroom apartment above the coach-house no longer has a full kitchen because it was converted into a laundry room, and this whole space can be accessed from the main house. With the conversion of the maid’s quarters to a large suite there are six bedrooms on this level, three of which have their own ensuite. All that space has been a boon for the Hulls, neither of whom have much extended family in Canada.

“We were always happy to host all our relatives and friends,” Mrs. Hull said. And despite the ravine giving the feel of being deep in the country in reality they are a short walk to the Bloor subway, which opens up the city for easy self-guided tours. “They can just take the subway, so I don’t need to drive them around. How many times do you need to see the CN tower?” she said.

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