The listing: 3286 County Rd., 8, RR#4, Picton, Ont.
Asking price: $3.97-million
Unit size: 30-acre property, 7,000-square-foot main house, 1,200-sq.-ft beach house
Taxes: $5,000 (2017)
Listing agent: Privately listed by the owner, Judith van Bastelaar, 613-885-2912
The back story
Since she was five years old, Judith van Bastelaar spent summers at her grandmother’s home on the shores of Prince Edward County. In the 1960s and ‘70s, Ms. van Bastelaar and a cohort of young cousins would create their own makeshift summer camp there – heading out to “sea” in little rafts, piling into canoes, engineering tree forts and picking fresh strawberries to pop into their mouths. “I think I had a charmed youth,” she said wistfully.
Summer after summer passed along the shore, and Ms. van Bastelaar grew out of childhood summers into adult responsibility. She moved to the city and set up a life there. But then, in the late 1990s, the property beside her grandmother’s old home was suddenly put on the market. She and her husband jumped at the chance.
That was the beginning of the project now known as The Beach Waupoos.
“We were living in Toronto at the time,” Ms. van Bastelaar said. Their original idea was to build a garage and workshop, with space for a guest suite above it. But Ms. van Bastelaar and her husband were travelling for business through a large chunk of the 18-month build, which was completed in 1999. Her brother was spearheading the project, and it kept getting bigger. “It just got away from us,” she said.
The couple was in Zurich when Ms. van Bastelaar’s brother suggested a pitched roof. Back then, she had no idea the design would come with 27-foot ceilings. In the end, the house was built of steel beams, with cathedral-like windows and easy views of the Prince Edward County sky.
The 30-acre “Big Blue House” property sits on a 560-ft beach of natural sand with a shallow, sloping shoreline. The 7,000-sq.-ft main home is a few minutes walk from a 1,200-sq.-ft beach house, situated right on the water’s edge. “I’m not a good thrower, and I can throw an orange into the lake,” Ms. van Bastelaar said.
There’s an outdoor dining pavilion – where she’s strung a disco ball into a poplar tree, for nights spent dancing with friends and family – a stone-ringed bonfire pit, a dock and an 18-ft dining table made from Indonesian teak. In the northeast corner, there’s a perennial garden with a “corkscrew hazelnut tree,” as Ms. van Bastelaar calls it, and a twisted willow. The rest of the property is peppered with “happy” orchids, except for the south side, Ms. van Bastelaar said. Every detail is ready for large dinners, parties and time spent together. “This is our home.”
So why is the property on the market? “My husband died six years ago,” Ms. van Bastelaar said. The couple’s son has moved out; he currently lives in Europe. So she sectioned off a piece of property on the west side, where she plans to build a new home for herself in the next six months, and decided to sell the rest.
Although Ms. van Bastelaar languishes over each of the house’s details, she took particular time to describe the windows. “Even in the dead of winter, the pass of solar is incredible, so I always sit and have coffee in the sunshine,” she said. The windows stretch up to the ceiling, and whenever she walks into a room, she said, it feels to her like a cathedral.
She especially loves the view from her bedroom.
“You can watch the stars traverse the sky, the birds – everything opens up,” she said. “And because you’re on the second floor there’s never any worry about bugs or anything, and there’s no trees nearby, so you’ve got this great view. You can see the lake from the house.”
The drive onto the property winds down a twisting lane, through a forest dotted with wildflowers. In the past four years, she’s been renting out the house in the summertime. It’s a good place for people seeking privacy.
“It makes you feel so removed,” she said.
She also gushes about the surrounding community. It’s a short walk to the local cider house, a pub, a winery and the cheese shop down the road. The island is located 2½ hours east of Toronto, and has experienced a boom in tourism and attention in recent years, in part after a Drake Devonshire venture opened up in Wellington, and in part due to the region’s picturesque wineries.
It’s also a community filled with theatre and music, Ms. van Bastelaar said, an eco-and-organics-friendly county populated by farmers, musicians, artists and businesspeople. It is the kind of place, she said, where you can always borrow a cup of sugar from your neighbour.
“Although you’re alone in the world when you’re on the property, it’s not very hard to find company.”