4390 Anderson St., Whitby, Ont.
Asking Price: $4.8-million
Taxes: $19,028.00 (2022)
Lot Size: 12.8 acres
Agent: Kelsey Schoenrock, Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd.
Bob and Judy Morine were living in an average sub-division in Whitby, Ont. with their three children when they began to talk about having a house custom-built in a more tranquil setting.
The family had lived for a time in Westchester County, N.Y., where they admired the Hudson Valley’s farmland and rolling hills.
In the late 1990s, the Morines found a property with woods and walking trails on 12.8 acres north of the town of Whitby.
Mr. Morine was drawn to a more rural life but Ms. Morine was thinking about the practical matter of driving three kids to school, hockey practice and other activities.
“I was more than interested in moving into the country and Judy was more than interested in being close to the city,” Mr. Morine says.
The Morines stayed in their existing house for a few years while they planned for the time when they would become empty nesters.
They rented out the house on the country property for a few years and Ms. Morine collected tear sheets from architecture and decor magazines.
The couple met with one architect and told him about their ideas for a home with a wraparound porch and a rustic interior that would provide the backdrop their collection of Canadian antique furniture.
“He came back with a French château,” Mr. Morine recalls with a chuckle.
After that misfire, the couple found Toronto-based architect Duff Ryan, who better understood their vision, and the design process began.
A real estate agent, meanwhile, was eyeing the existing house on the property and struck a deal to transport it to another town.
That prevented the structure from becoming landfill.
“They cut it into two pieces and moved it,” Mr. Morine says. “It worked out well.”
The house today
Work on the Morine’s new property began in 2000 with the landscaping. Large amounts of stone were hauled in and landscapers created a 12-foot waterfall that flows to three miniature ponds.
During that time, the couple would visit the property and take in the surroundings.
“We’d sit out with a glass of wine looking an empty hole where our house was going to be,” Ms. Morine says.
In 2001, the 6,500-square-foot house was completed.
Life on the main floor revolves around a great room with a wood-burning fireplace set in floor-to-ceiling Indiana limestone. The vaulted ceilings are two stories high, and a second-storey walkway overlooks the main level.
French doors lead to the terrace.
During construction, Mr. Morine suggested cladding the metal posts that support the structure in the great room with pine from reclaimed logs. From there, they decided to finish the ceiling with pine boards cut at a historic water mill in nearby Bowmanville.
“It’s trimmed with logs but it’s not a log house,” Mr. Morine explains.
The kitchen, with wood cabinets and a centre island, is open to the great room, and a butler’s pantry is tucked in behind.
The circular dining room was inspired by the round dining room table which the Morines had custom-made. Mr. Ryan also designed two alcoves for the couple’s antique Canadiana hutches.
The primary bedroom, with a walk-in closet, ensuite bathroom and walkout to the backyard, is on the main floor.
Upstairs, a guest suite includes a bedroom, sitting room and ensuite bathroom.
The residence also has a home office and a formal living room which could serve as a second home office.
The land was excavated to create a lower level with walk-outs to the backyard and additional bedrooms, which brings the total to eight.
The lower level also provides lots of space for family gatherings, with a games room and a media room with a fireplace.
Early in the design process, the Morines asked Mr. Ryan to carve out a niche that would become an indoor play space for visiting grandchildren. He imagined a structure they could reach by clambering up and down a ladder.
“The idea of a little tree fort in the great room turned into an entire turret,” Mr. Morine says.
The Morines went on to have eight grandchildren who use the turret as an arts and crafts room.
The property also provides a heated workshop for carpentry below the garage.
Once the house was completed, a family member who works as a location manager for the film and television industries gave the couple advice on making the property available for shoots.
During filming of the U.S. television series Nikita, tanks, army trucks and actors portraying soldiers transformed the property into a military zone.
On another occasions, the BBC Scotland sitcom Still Game brought its characters to Canada for scenes set on the Morine property.
“The house lends itself to it,” says Mr. Morine, pointing out that the hemlock and slate flooring throughout the house stands up well to kids, grandkids, dogs and film crews.
After Ms. Morine wondered if the area was too rural in the 1990s, the town of Whitby expanded north. The 200-acre farm across the road has been replaced with sub-divisions, and restaurants and retail stores are a short drive away.
The property maintains a feeling of seclusion, however, with a city greenbelt at the rear.
The best feature
The extensive grounds, with perennial gardens and a hardwood forest, have been the setting for many soirees.
All three of the Morines’ children were married on the back patio, next to the waterfall.
For dining and dancing, a large marquee sheltered guests on the one-acre front lawn.
For more casual relaxation, there is an outdoor hot tub and a fire pit.
In summer, the pond is stocked with trout for fishing. Kids and grandkids take to the ice in winter for skating and hockey games.
Trails wind through the woods, and a disused railway line abutting the rear of the property leads to the town of Brooklin.