The listing: 8 Lakeside Ave., Toronto
Asking Price: $2,600,000
Taxes: $12,885.57 (2019)
Lot Size: 227- by 141-feet (irregular)
Agent: Thomas Neal (Royal LePage Estate Realty)
The back story
In 1919, Toronto dentist Frank Price purchased land for a summer retreat on the bluffs above Lake Ontario.
Dr. Price was one of the first graduates of the Royal College of Dental Surgeons. He opened a practice on Sherbourne Street in 1892 and went on to become the first dentist in Toronto to use X-ray equipment.
“During his long years of practice, Dr. Price was keenly interested in the advancement of dentistry, particularly in regard to X-ray work,” according to a 1937 obituary. He lectured for many years on the subject at the Dental College.
For his summer home, Dr. Price found a parcel east of the city in the area of rural villages and farms known as the Township of Scarborough at the time.
Before building at the foot of Lakeside Avenue, Dr. Price had the sheer cliff face blasted with dynamite in order to create a more gentle slope.
He then imported oak saplings from England and planted them along the edge in order to prevent erosion. Today, those trees tower above the tableland that surrounds the house.
The property known as “The Cliffs” started as a summer cottage and turned into a family home over the years.
The house has been the setting for film and television productions, including a movie made from the Margaret Laurence short story collection A Bird in the House.
The house today
In the 1980s, William Hendrie was living in midtown Toronto when a friend invited him along to look at a house for sale at 8 Lakeside Ave. in Scarborough. The property was rundown and the house in need of repair, but its perch above Lake Ontario provided a serene setting and incredible views.
As it turned out, the friend didn’t buy the house but Mr. Hendrie did.
He set out to bring it up-to-date with new windows and doors and other improvements.
But Mr. Hendrie kept elements such as the original balustrade staircase and a semi-circular stained glass window in the front hall.
“That’s one of the reasons I purchased it – the character,” Mr. Hendrie says.
The dark wood panelling and trim in the hallway and other rooms made the space feel somber, so Mr. Hendrie painted the wood white throughout the interior.
Today, the house has five bedrooms and three bathrooms in 3,700 square feet of living space.
In the late 1990s, Mr. Hendrie married Helen Kampfmuller and the two undertook more renovations together over the years.
Guests arrive to a covered veranda and a spacious entrance hall. The formal living room has a bay window, a fireplace and French doors opening to a covered terrace with views of the lake.
The dining room opens to a sunroom with windows on three sides.
The servery has a door leading to a large outdoor deck for al fresco dining.
In 2007, the couple renovated the kitchen with wood cabinets, built-in appliances, a breakfast bar and heated floors.
They added a gas fireplace to the main floor library after the vicious ice storm that took out power in December, 2013.
The original carriage room has been enclosed to provide a spot for main floor laundry.
Upstairs, the house has five bedrooms and an enclosed sunroom created from a former summer porch.
Mr. Hendrie currently uses the largest bedroom with a bay window overlooking the lake as a home office. The former computer engineer became an inventor after retirement and currently has two U.S. patents to his name.
“In the winter, when the leaves are gone, we have a panoramic view. It sparkles,” Ms. Kampfmuller says.
The master bedroom has an ensuite bathroom and doors leading to a balcony.
Ms. Kampfmuller, a former publicist and events planner, uses another bedroom as her home office.
A narrow back staircase leads to another bedroom in the former maids’ quarters.
Ms. Kampfmuller says many descendants of previous owners have stopped by the house over the years. The grandchildren of Dr. Price once paid a visit and recounted stories of games on the lawn in the early days.
“There are so many stories about this house and people just keep coming back,” Ms. Kampfmuller says.
One visitor recounted how his sister had been married on the lawn outside. The little boys in the family had hidden on the second-floor veranda and used slingshots to fire acorns at the guests.
Now three-quarters of an acre, the estate once included the next door property as well.
One visitor who recalled playing street hockey at the foot of Lakeside Avenue as a child said the owner at that time owned a Coca-Cola bottling plant. The neighbourhood kids loved to play outside No. 8 because the owner would come out on hot days and hand out bottles of pop.
“It holds a lot of memories,” Ms. Kampfmuller says. “I love hearing those stories.”
The best feature
The tall trees and shrubs beyond the dead-end street create a very private setting, says Mr. Hendrie, who enjoys morning coffee in the garden in the warmer months.
Ms. Kampfmuller says the microclimate created by the lake and the bluff provides a sheltered spot for gardening.
“It’s a different zone from even up the street,” she says.
The couple’s granddaughters play outside in the pond and stream that Mr. Hendrie built on the property.
“They go out there and build fairy villages in the stream bed,” Ms. Kampfmuller says. “There’s a little chipmunk that lives under the rocks.”
The couple sometimes spots foxes, deer and coyotes using the cliff edge as a throughway.
The well-vegetated slope is still protected from erosion by Dr. Price’s trees and other plantings over the years, real estate agent Thomas Neal of Royal LePage Estate Realty says.
“We love the trees here – they’re what make it so special,” Ms. Kampfmuller says.
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