The listing: 591 North Lake Rd., Richmond Hill, Ont.
Asking Price: $2.38-million
Taxes: $6,670.55 (2018)
Lot Size: 25 feet by 300 feet
Agents: Voula Gekas, Century 21 Atria Realty Inc., brokerage
Over almost two decades, Jeremy Taggart went from being a touring rock musician as the drummer for Our Lady Peace, to being a husband, a father and after hanging up his sticks in 2014, he’s become a podcaster, co-author and co-founder of a budding media business. But one constant has been the placid waters of Lake Wilcox and the home his family has built at 591 North Lake Rd., in Richmond Hill’s Oak Ridge neighbourhood.
“I was living down in a loft at Richmond and Sherbourne in my 20s, but I was under the idea I’d like some space, a yard, something to look at other than a parking lot,” Mr. Taggart said. “I found this place in 2000 – it was just a small cottage. As soon as I walked into the backyard, I said ‘I gotta live here.’ I had no idea there was a lake this close to a city. It’s been almost 20 years, but it’s gotten to the point where it sounds cliché, but it’s selfish to hold onto it in a way.”
In 2012, he and his wife, Lisa, gutted and completely rebuilt the cottage, turning it into a five-level, four-bedroom, four bathroom, filled with light, wood and always oriented toward the lake in the backyard.
Listing agent Voula Gekas, who is also a close family friend, says the house is one of the few new builds on the north side of Lake Wilcox.
The house today
Mr. Taggart, a father of three, gives his wife, whom he met in 2004, much of the credit for the interior finishes and smart touches in a house that makes the most of a narrow but deep lot. Those finishes start as soon as you’re through the custom-made wood and iron front doors, where the foyer has a series of closets that act as lockers for the busy family.
The next thing visitors see is a bright modern kitchen, up a few steps and on the right, filled with custom floor-to-ceiling cabinets, appliances from Electrolux, Viking and Asko. The dining room table is on the left side, which shares the floor with a light-bathed sitting space filled with bookshelves and a bay window alcove facing the front of the house.
There are also some gorgeous vintage stained-glass lights rescued from a church, but don’t get too attached because the Taggarts are taking those with them.
The stairwell is in the middle of the house, down a few steps is the living room, which has a wall filled with windows, a gas fireplace and big-screen TV alcove above it, and a glass door with the walkout to the rear deck and backyard, which we will return to. This floor’s bathroom has a unique feature: a dog shower, formed by a low basin wall closing in river-stone floor shower (which, if you live on a lake also doubles as a muddy foot-wash zone).
A few steps farther down and there’s the basement with a powder room, Mr. Taggart’s jam space, two closets, the utility close and a cold-storage room.
Back up the stairs and the first level past the kitchen is the master suite. A short hallway takes you past the four-piece ensuite bathroom, the standout feature here is a walk-through subway-tiled shower with dual ceiling-mounted rain-shower heads. The walk-in closet next door is filled with custom wood shelving and a vintage wood door slides on a rail above the closet and bathroom entrances, providing some privacy for one room at a time.
At this point, you might also realize the broad barn-board plank walnut floors are extending through the house. No two planks are the same, and it adds a rich, warm texture to every room, particularly as the paint schemes are mostly either cool blue-greys, white or neutral tans. The master bedroom has a vaulted ceiling, another wall of windows and a walkout to a balcony. Two built-in alcoves above the night stands frame the headboard, with illumination comes from the overhead fan or sconce light fixtures.
The third floor is pure family space: three bedrooms (two facing the road, one facing the lake), the laundry room, a four-piece bath with tub and shower. One bedroom is pink, the other blue (with bunk beds) and the fourth bedroom, which faces the lake, is currently occupied by a gigantic Jacob’s Ladder exercise machine. Toiling self-improvers could stare at the water as they sweat through their workouts.
None of the bedrooms is huge, but they are a comfortable fit for everything inside of them.
Now that we’ve seen all the bathrooms, it becomes clear that each one has a hand-held bidet spray, another feature you don’t find in every house.
The best feature
The show-stopper is the deck and backyard. Designed and built by HGTV’s Paul Lafrance (and featured in an episode of his show, Decked Out) the grey and white deck provides shade, seating, privacy and a load of visual interest. A little deeper into the 300-foot lot, there’s a secondary seating area, which clusters nine loungers around a stand-alone outdoor fireplace. Farther in is the shoreline (sorry, the paddleboat’s been promised to a neighbour).
Mr. Taggart’s podcast, which he co-hosts with actor Jonathan Torrens, is called Canadianity; a play on words to describe features of life unique to the Canuck experience. Whether it be all-dressed-flavoured chips or knowing the words to some ubiquitious 20-year-old commercial, there are certain experiences Canadians can usually identify, and Mr. Taggart says his house has that feel, too.
“The back patio is the most Canadianity thing,” he said. “Summertime and winter, in the backyard you feel like you are up at the cottage. People can be skating or swimming or floatin’ around in the canoe … a lot of windsurfing. We’re in a bay for skating, so water isn’t that deep; for swimming, we’ll take a pontoon raft out to jump off; it’s very deep out in the middle.”
So why would he give all this up? He needs studio space for his growing content business, music and podcasts, and that kind of bustling activity isn’t ideal for Lake Wilcox’s placid shores. “The only thing being on the water – you have to worry about being loud,” he said. He intends to stay in the area; for one, the kids love their local school and he’s also come to appreciate the neighbours and the area, which is just a half-hour drive from downtown Toronto – if traffic co-operates. “Oak Ridges is a fantastic place to grow up and live,” he said. “It’s a beautiful place, a great vibe, it’s an easy place to be creative. We don’t really want to move away.”