Birchview Road, Lakefield, Ont.
Asking Price: $5-million
Taxes: $13,339.40 (2021)
Lot Size: 1.28 acres (208 feet of lakefront)
Listing agent: Cliff Liu, Slate Realty Inc.
The word cottage once meant a humble abode, something small and modest. The 10-room lakefront mansion for sale on Clear Lake in the Kawartha’s is anything but humble.
When John Masson first saw it he was delivering furniture to a nearby home. “I saw a for sale sign, and had no inclination to move, but I thought we should look. As soon as I was inside, I said ‘Man, I love this house.’”
That was 10 years ago, and at the time he was the proprietor of the Grey House, a sort-of cottage lifestyle decor store based in Oshawa, Ont. In February he retired, sold the store, and at age 57 is looking forward to the borders reopening soon so he can implement his dream of spending the winter months somewhere sunny and six months in a more modest cottage in Canada.
In many ways, the Clear Lake cottage is the house unlimited overtime bought.
“I was 22 and working at the [Toronto Transit Commission],” he recalls. “Back in those days, you could work an extraordinary amount of overtime,” says Mr. Masson, who drove busses and subway trains. “I had my first house paid for by 27 … I would work pretty much seven days a week: if I could stay awake, I’d work.”
The turn to furniture store owner came about 10 years into working at the TTC. He bought The Grey House as a going concern from the previous owners. For five more years he worked at the store during the day and he’d commute from Oshawa to work nights for the TTC.
These days it seems he’s finally learning how to relax, describing his favourite thing to do as sit on the boat house porch with a glass of wine and watch golf.
The House Today
From the front drive the house looks like a 1½-storey bungalow, clad in dark grey cedar shingles with light trim. In fact, it is cut into the rocky escarpment and goes down four levels to the lakeshore. And yes, there’s an elevator.
Inside, the house is filled with cherry wood: cabinets, trim and all 55 doors are solid cherry according to Mr. Masson. Almost all the walls are white, all the floors oak hardwood.
The first level has vaulted ceilings and exposed support beams with dormer-style windows. The kitchen, dining room and a massive living room occupy most of this level. The kitchen has a huge slab of tiger-striped granite on an island that has radiant heat beneath. The black cabinets are dark-stained cherry.
The living room faces a wall of windows separated by a railing. Looking over the railing, you realize the windows travel all the way to the ground floor in a curtain-wall of glass facing the lake that gives each level its own stellar vistas.
On the next level down there’s a games room and the main bedroom suite. In a wing off to the right the other nine bedrooms begin. There are exterior stairs that you can take from the main deck (off the kitchen) down to the smaller decks on the levels below. There’s an almost bewildering amount of rooms, and spaces to sit facing the lake, with five and a half bathrooms. And that’s just the main house.
Mr. Masson opted not to list his home on the Multiple Listings Service in order to limit inquiries to serious buyers and keep showings to a minimum. The only place to find details online is on a Strata.ca link. “His neighbours listed their home for sale and there was a lot of showings,” listing agent Cliff Liu said. “They feel a lot of people were just treating it like a weekend excursion.”
The boat house
These days you couldn’t build this structure on Clear Lake, according to Mr. Masson. The previous owner spared no expense on the house and boat house building both structures out of concrete. The local planning rules have also changed in the last 10 years, and nowadays getting a two-storey building right on the lake is a no-go. It easily stores Mr. Masson’s 23-foot boat and a couple jet-skis, but it’s not a water slip: a tracked system runs into the lake, where you can put a boat on a cradle that then winches the craft indoors so it stays high and dry all winter. On the second floor is a deck and a living room with a wall of lake-side windows.
“It’s pretty special in the summer months … you’re right on the water.”
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