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home of the week

Jody Latimer/Jody Latimer

214 Minnesota St., Collingwood, Ont.

Asking Price: $2,299,999

Taxes: $6,214 (2021)

Lot Size: 60- by 120-feet

Agents: Sherry Rioux, Clairwood Real Estate

The backstory

The reproduction Victorian home was built on one of Collingwood’s most desirable downtown streets in 1998.Jody Latimer/Jody Latimer

It was a sunny day in July seven years ago when the future owners of 214 Minnesota St., in Collingwood, Ont. stepped onto the backyard patio and pool area and decided this was the place to retire.

However, Scottish poet Robbie Burns once coined a turn of phrase about the best-laid plans of mice and men, and for Pamela Campbell some parts of the move north from Aurora, Ont., did go awry.

“My husband was going to retire, but he did not retire, so now he only comes up on weekends,” Ms. Campbell said. A planned sale of his small business was put on hold due to circumstances beyond their control. Previously, the couple had only visited the town on weekends together, so with weekdays to herself the retired consultant got on the waiting lists for a few “Probus” clubs in the area. To her delight, she got into two.

Probus social clubs began forming in the 1960s and 70s as an offshoot of Rotary clubs in Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Typically made up of retired professionals, according to Probus Canada the first one here was formed in 1987 and there are now at least 245 with more than 36,000 members across the country.

“You meet once a month and in that meeting maybe they will have a speaker come in – like a beekeeper or an astrologer – or you go on tours to a glass factory or a local brewery,” Ms. Campbell said. “There are committees within them; there’s a ski legend club where they go to all the private clubs, and take ski trips to Europe and out West. There’s a cinema club where they bring TIFF movies up and they even have a group that goes to Sudbury for its films festival.”

Ms. Campbell is of the view that Collingwood is particularly full of retired professionals, an impression backed up by Statistics Canada data that show the town of 24,811 has 50-per-cent more residents between the ages of 55-75 than those ages 35-55.

“When you stop working you lose your work friends,” Ms. Campbell said. “You come here, you want to take an art class, you want to go to lifelong learning, the theatre club. … It is a phenomenal community that way. People here that are highly educated, highly skilled and everyone is in the same position where they are keen to meet people.”

The House Today

There are two structures on the property, the main house and a garage/coach house with a separate apartment above. The reproduction Victorian home – built on one of Collingwood’s most desirable downtown streets in 1998 – has four bedrooms and five bathrooms, the coach house has one bed (but can sleep more) and one bath. With some fine brickwork details such as soldiering above the windows and exterior doors, a turret that rises above the peaked roof and gingerbread woodwork on the covered front porch that stretches the width of the house the home performs better at the eye test than most new-builds with period design inspiration.

Inside, the sharp lines and wide spaces bely the Victorian style (which is often quite cramped indoors) the front door opens to centre hall that travels straight back to the kitchen with an open sitting room on the right and a wide stairwell that climbs to the second level on the left. The sitting room features a large sectional that wraps around the corner with the turret windows.

The kitchen has Victorian echoes, but on a modern template where the back half of the house is completely turned over to prep and dining space.

“The kitchen was Canadiana in pine and reproduction old-fashioned appliances … the stove looked like it was wood-burning. We took out wall for dining room and kitchen, made it one large room and put in all brand new Corinthian Kitchen cabinets [made in nearby Thornbury, Ont.] all in white,” Ms. Campbell said.

There is storage and white wood panelling everywhere, the hardware and fixtures area all silver and stainless steel, the range hood is massive, the counters and backsplash are quartz, the ceiling is coffered and there are two sliding glass doors out to the rear deck on opposite sides of the kitchen. “We have the full set of ‘kitchen jewellery’ – Miele appliances, stand-alone fridge and freezer, built-in oven – it’s all top of the line,” Ms. Campbell said.

When they redid the kitchen they also updated the laundry room, and put in a full wet-bar and wine cellar in the basement, and there’s another guest room down there as well.

On the second floor there are three bedrooms, with one shared guest bathroom and an ensuite connected to the primary bedroom. The bed in the primary suite sites inside the turret which here feels like a tower with its windows on all sides and height that rises up another 10 feet above the ceiling with a second row of windows above. It’s a lot of light, but some clever automation helps keep it private and dark at bedtime. “You hit a button and blackout blinds close on either side of each window panes, and with the silk curtains there is no light. You hit the button again and everything goes up,” Ms. Campbell said.

Home is for sharing

There are two structures on the property, the main house and a garage/coach house with a separate apartment above.Jody Latimer/Jody Latimer

“You find when you move to Collingwood, all your friends want to come and visit,” said Ms. Campbell, who saw a slight slowdown at the beginning of the pandemic but a huge ramp-up in visits as people got their vaccinations. “We can house up to 20 people, you can have a fabulous time: we make gourmet dinners, or we can walk to the local restaurants, and we don’t have to worry about drinking or driving.”

The coach house, with spiral staircase down to the rear-yard pool patio is a particular draw. “People who bring kids, for the little people it’s good to have their own separate place with a full shower and kitchenette.”

From local life to visits from afar, Collingwood remains Ms. Campbell’s home and they are looking to move elsewhere in town. Now if only she can make sure her husband retires for good this time.

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