Friday, April 26, 2013
Here we go again...heading back down a familiar road.
Much like prospectors and mining companies continued to return to the Cordova Mines and take another run at extracting gold, we too return in waves, in search of more long forgotten abandonments.
With all six of the easy to spot, roadside abandoned houses on Vansickle Road already explored and documented, we have begun the more extensive leg of the journey: The search and enjoy method. Countless rusted gates adorn the roadside, and the forest has reclaimed it's rightful ownership of the spaces beyond the gates. We cannot help but wonder, what, if anything, is hiding in the forest beyond those gates? The only way to answer this question is on foot, pushing through the forest like the early settlers.
After a few failures, or rather long walks to nothing, in the middle of nowhere, one of these treks into the dense woods paid off, and we came across the Cordova Mines Vansickle House 7.
Once again, down this old road, we struck gold.
Much like the Cordova Mines Vansickle House 1, where this series began, this house is caving in on itself. The ground floor and it's contents are being swallowed up by the basement. One can enter through all three of the doors on the main level, but venturing too deep inside could be disastrous.
My fingers flipped through pages of National Enquirer and Star magazines from the 1980s, and then dropped them back into the kitchen sink. My fingers interacted with books and bottles, and danced along the grimy ivory keys of an organ that has already sung it's final sung and gone mute. My feet tread carefully, testing the floor with every step forward, prepared to take two steps back at any given moment.
When we hit bottom
When we sat down together as a family
When the music stopped
When the world was made of plastic
When we were regaled with tales
When we bathed and played with rubber duckies and boats
Atop the stairs, I had to pause and warn myself to be careful. I stood and examined the extent of the damage. The roof has suffered extreme deterioration in the central portion, which has seriously drawn into question the structural integrity of the floor on both levels. Standing on a beam, I could see through the wet collapsing floorboards to the gaping hole below. I stood in place, balancing carefully and shooting into the rooms.
We visited this house 3 times over a 6 month period, and with each visit I grew more courageous and pushed deeper inside. By the third visit, I was casually balancing on the floor beam upstairs, and hopping confidently over the sketchy portions of the floor and into all of the rooms with ease.
When the light shone down upon us
When cleanliness was next to godlessness
When the voices of children playing rang aloud
When we broke bread together as a family
When night fell, we fell asleep
When it all came apart
When Dad used to sit out in the backyard and paint
When the nights were long
When the snow fell
When Dad retired
When the lights went out
When you just couldn't handle it anymore
When we had nice things
When you gave her flowers, and they outlived you
When the curtains closed
When we took off our clothes
When we made our own beds
When we walked into town for school and work
When Dad packed up and left
When we stopped to say I love you
When we descended into the basement
When it all came crashing down
Twice now I have attempted to bring this series to a close, and both times Vansickle Road has offered up more of it's ghosts. Something tells me that there is still more gold to be mined on this road. And so I shall bid you adieu for now, with a tip of the hat. But I will continue to prospect these hills, and you will undoubtedly hear from me again on the subject.
click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES
Friday, March 29, 2013
Welcome to the most expensive residential property in Canadian history.
Luxury. Prosperity. Fortune. Affluence. Excess. These are not words that are frequently used to describe the types of locations that I explore. But here along the shore of Lake Ontario, on Oakville's 'gold coast', these aren't just words, they are a lifestyle, and have been so for quite some time.
The history of the heritage property is steeped in wealth and riches. The original summer home at Edgemere Estate was built in 1905 by James Ryrie, after he merged his jewellery business with Birk's. Ryrie hired Canada's first landscape architect Charles Ernest Woolverton to transform the 14 acre property from an orchard to an elegant Edwardian garden.
In the early 1990s, this opulent modern Georgian-Style mega mansion at Edgemere Estate was custom built by construction mogul Peter Gilgan, president of Mattamy Homes, one of Canada's largest home construction firms.
The 32,000 square foot, four-storey main house included 9 bedrooms, 17 bathrooms, sweeping foyer, 20 seat theatre, spa, massive playroom, spiral staircases and an elevator. It was outfitted with smart home technology that provided control of everything imaginable. At the push of a button, one could light their way to the kitchen from a third floor bedroom on the opposite side of the house, dim chandeliers, ignite fireplaces or open and close window blinds.
The luxurious property also included 300 metres of shoreline, a private pebble beach, boat house, four car garage, pool, gardener's cottage, stable, greenhouse, century old Japanese teahouse and a baseball diamond.
In 2007, only 15 years after the mansion was built, the Gilgan's had divorced and the Estate was put up for sale. To this day, it has the distinction of being the most expensive residential property ever to be listed for sale in Canada, with a gargantuan price tag of $45 million.
The property sold for $35 million and the new owners, under the name Edgemere Estate Limited, announced their plans for the property, much to the chagrin of nearby residents. The plan: to demolish the 32,000 square foot mansion and construct 30 über luxurious condominiums.
After rezoning and public waterfront access issues were addressed, the plan was given a green light by the city of Oakville. Almost immediately, deconstruction began on the mansion and construction began on the condominiums. The remaining contents within the mansion were put to auction, including everything from furniture and chandeliers, to windows and doors.
In mid-march of 2013, Ninja and I were on an exploring extravaganza that we called the '2013 Anniversary Tour', which also included a visit to the Crowe Foundry. On this leg of the journey, we were accompanied by our friend Emceeay.
As hammers swung and a crew of construction workers pounded nails into rooftops, the three of us crept quietly onto the property and made our way into Canada's most expensive home, which had been severely gutted and prepared for demolition.
More money than you know what to do with.
I never really understood that phrase until now.
click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES