Thursday, July 31, 2014

Riverdale Reminisce

SOLD - 148 Victor Avenue - RIVERDALE  (click on this link for photos)

I am going to backtrack a bit today, since I have come across something really interesting here. This house at 148 Victor Ave in Toronto was one of my early residences in my twenties. I spent my final year at Ryerson living on the third floor of this Victorian beauty. It has been completely renovated since of course, but scrolling through these photos still brought back a flood of memories for me. 

The photo of the bedroom with the exposed brick chimney was my living area and the adjoining master ensuite in the next photo was my kitchen. There was a small bedroom where the rooftop deck now sits and I had an antique drop leaf desk in the front dormer window where my cat used to sit and watch the world go by from above. That garret apartment was my first time living completely alone. However, having said that, the woman who rented it to me was an acquaintance who became a friend for a time, and she and her boyfriend lived on the first two floors. As there was no separate entrance to my space, I had to cut through the house to get to my door. More often than not, if they were home, I would stop for a chat, which inevitably would lead to drinks and sometimes if I was lucky, a dinner invite. They were both chefs - one at Scaramouche and the other at The Four Seasons Inn on the Park so the food was generally pretty outstanding. Either that or they would both be completely exhausted from the demands of their gourmet preparations and we would end up with something very simple like an omelette or even the occasional pot of heavily peppered KD. With wine of course. Or beer. We weren't too fussy.

I hammered out many papers on my manual portable typewriter in that attic, so it was a good thing they worked at night. I too worked part-time waitressing and bartending, so when we all three arrived home late at night, we would all unwind until the wee hours recapping the various dramas of our shifts. As for the space, I had some fun with it, although it had such great features on its own, I barely had to do more than paint the living area. I arranged the furniture so I could lay on the sofa looking up through the skylight on starry nights. It was an operable window as well, so on hot summer days, it could be opened to allow the warm air to escape. Still, I needed a window air conditioner for the bedroom. It was a used clunker from a garage sale that was noisy but did the job. 

The bedroom has become a rooftop deck now. It does not surprise me as I actually used to dream of how awesome that would be. There was a step up from the kitchen to go into the bedroom that always seemed to me to be an afterthought which it likely was. The ceiling was low and there was only one small window and on howling blowing winter nights it felt like the whole room might blow away into the sky and land somewhere else like Dorothy's house in The Wizard of Oz. It was cold in the winter and too hot in summer. It was only a matter of time before it would need to transform. Become the open space it was meant to be.

The kitchen had old vinyl tiles in a sapphire blue and the appliances were what would be considered retro by today's standards. The fridge had one of those handles that you had to pull forward to open the door and I always had to do a double check that it was closed tight. With no choice but to work with the blue floor, I went for a triadic colour scheme in the kitchen, adding a small red and white painted free-standing cabinet, a red metal drop leaf table top and bar stool under the window where I could look out at the neighbouring house and blue sky while I ate breakfast. There were no closed cabinets for dishes, so they sat on open shelves above the small counter and it was there that I was able to have some fun with colour. Pops of red and blue and yellow made it kitschy and fun. 

Interestingly, I was in between relationships while I lived there. It allowed me to fully express my creativity without the need to consider another person's opinion or needs. There are few times I can look back on my adult life when this was the case. I think it is true for many women. The times we are on our own with no partner or children can be wonderful therapeutic pauses in our journey through life. 148 Victor was such a time for me. I met my first husband at a party I hosted for the entire Journalism Class of 85 at the house. All three floors rocked until the sun came up. There is likely a police record for disturbing the peace in the archives somewhere. A few months later, he moved in and it was never meant to be a space for two, so we left to find a larger place. I was sad and happy all at once.

That house has completely transformed into something beautiful and its potential fully realized. The exterior was pale pink back then. The interior needed attention and the gardens were in need of much TLC. It has no doubt been through a few incarnations since 1985. 

Not unlike myself. Funny that.

1 comment:

Carla Sandrin said...

Very sweet reminiscences. And what a beautiful transformation!