5633 5th Line, Guelph, Ont.
Asking Price: $2,199,000
Taxes: $6,828 (2019)
Lot Size: 6.43 acres
Agent: Lisa Hartsink, Royal LePage Realty Plus Mississauga
If you liked to eat game meat like elk in the early 2000s you might have met Bern Schatti, who used to set up his stall at farmer’s markets all over Southern Ontario. He raised 200 head of elk on his 100-acre farm he owned since 1998, and became something of an early pioneer in the farm-to-table market in the region.
Why elk? “That was just an animal that intrigued me,” said Mr. Schatti, who explains that meat was a pivot away from his original business: Elk felt and antler products that were used in alternative medicines. When he got his operation up and running there were more than 50,000 deer and elk being farmed for their horns in Canada (every year the antlers were harvested, and the grew back the next year) back when the per-kilogram price of elk horn more than $100. But in the early 2000s chronic wasting disease, a type transmissible spongiform encephalopathy was found in Canada’s herds, and the international trade evaporated. “We had the Chinese and Korean market very strong, our products were highly sought after. That was a difficult time for beef and cervid producers, a difficult time to weather.”
The elk are long-gone – the family stepped away from that trade about 10 years ago – and earlier this year most of the hundred acres went, too, severed from the remaining six-acre plot and sold to neighbouring farm operations. Mr. Schatti, whose background was in forestry, also ran a tree nursery on the land for blue spruce, ash and maple, but is looking forward to a change of scenery after 20-plus happy years living in the country. Also, Mr. Schatti has spent a lot to improve the farmhouse and buildings, and is looking forward to passing it on to another family.
“There’ hasn’t been a building that hasn’t been touched; we did massive renovations, roof off,” Mr. Schatti said, and spent a lot of time on maintaining the 1881 farmhouse feel, going so far as to replicate the brick on the addition, even sourcing the same yellow bricks used in the soldiering above the windows.
The house today
Like most country houses there are multiple entrances, working entrances you might call some of them, and more formal spaces such as the front foyer. Past the covered porch into the front door (framed by decorative leaded glass panels) is an entryway with a curving staircase that spirals up to the second floor. Mr. Schatti says families from the area would come here for wedding photos, and he’s seen more than a few that feature his spiral staircase.
From here, access to the rest of the house passes right through a dining room with a wood-burning fireplace in the corner, or left to pass through a sitting room (which also has a wood-burning fireplace). You may notice that the brick mantle for these fireplaces are two different shapes: “The story of that is … maybe three owners prior to us, there was a bachelor in here, and when he finally wed it was a condition that he have two fireplaces put in. Well, they couldn’t decide on either convex or concave mantle, so they settled on one of each,” Mr. Schatti said.
The decor of the front rooms is reflective of the house’s history, with high baseboards and narrow window frames, passing through those front rooms open onto the newer portion of the house that was added in a 2004 renovation. Here, the style is no-nonsense and simple with a lot of beige. From the side deck entrance the space is an uneven hallways that runs past the kitchen to a set of stairs that lead up to the second floor and down to the new basement. Next to this hall is the massive open kitchen and family room, almost 40-feet wide with a wall of windows facing the pool. The finishes here could use some updating, though they are well-maintained.
There’s a standalone wood-burning stove central in this space (and a handy powder room tucked behind the stairs, and a door to the rear-deck and in-ground pool. This is still the middle of this level, through a door next to the kitchen is more functional spaces: a large laundry room and second kitchen with an exit to the pool area, an office space and a mudroom with another exit outside.
Next to the pool, there’s also a hot tub, is the separate building that has the three-car garage, on the pool-side there is a sunroom and change room with a rough-in for a bathroom, upstairs is an unfinished loft.
Upstairs the layout has some of the kinks that come from adapting a 140-year-old home: the spiral staircase opens to a short hall with doors on two sides, one leads to the largest of the secondary bedrooms (14 feet by 20 feet), which has its own walk-in closet but is otherwise separated from the rest of the upstairs common spaces. Through the other door at the top of the curving staircase is a new hallway that connects the other three bedrooms and the four-piece family bath on this level.
Two smaller bedrooms are on either side of the rear staircase, and on the back of the house is the master bedroom with three closet spaces and a six-piece ensuite bathroom with walk-in shower and soaker tub. The newer rooms have carpet, tile in the bathrooms, but the older rooms have hardwood floors.
Downstairs, under the new part of the house, is a huge 36-foot-by-25-foot open games room area with walk-outs to the rear yard. It’s currently split up into a media section and a pool table area, next to a riverstone wall that is the exposed foundation of the original house. Under the original house is a lot of storage space plus the mechanical rooms.
Like a lot of country homes, this place has outbuildings, and in this case there’s a second driveway that takes you right back to them. The newest of these buildings is the 3,000-square-foot heated shop. It has a mezzanine-level office space and a bathroom, it could be a car collector toy box or just a space to maintain equipment.
“I like to restore or tinker with older vintage vehicles, but I never really had the full opportunity to do that. … We were busy with children and family and farm. But in the back of my mind the design here was to have a real comfortable well-lit space to enjoy my hobbies.” He did find the time to build a bay in the shop for his fishing boat, and he does get out on the water often enough.
The post-and-beam barn is large and airy, and was relocated from what would become nearby Guelph Lake when that land was flooded in 1979. A third more modern shop space, unheated this time, adds another huge indoor area for storage.
There’s also a small bunkie across the way from the house at the end of the winding driveway that is currently set up as a wood-panelled rustic guest room. This was formerly the on-farm shop where the family sold its elk meat, but it could be reformatted for anything really (there’s a rough-in for a bathroom as well).
It’s also a very secure site, there’s about a half-dozen camera’s around the property on a web-connected system: you probably shouldn’t leave your keys in your car (a common practice in the country) but at least here you’d have digital eyes on it.
The outside, particularly the decks on every side of the house. Mr. Schatti emphasizes that no matter where the sun is there’s always somewhere shaded to sit and relax outside, with the cooling breeze coming across the fields. The landscaping is all perennials, so while they do a lot of work maintaining, there is no need for annual plantings.
“If you can dream it you could probably do it there. I picture a family making it almost like a compound,” said realtor Lisa Hartsink, who is fielding more and more interest from Toronto-area families looking beyond Caledon for land, outdoor space and country living away from crowds. “Before it was all about proximity to the city, I would say that’s changing a wee bit … now I don’t need to be able to commute to downtown Toronto every day. I moved to [nearby] Erin about 13 years ago, but now the secret is out; these little hamlets or little villages, the values have gone crazy.”
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