198 Years After Victoria

May 24th, 2017

Alexandrina Victoria; (24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) inherited the throne of the United Kingdom of Britain and Ireland when she was just 18 years old. She saw her country through dramatic changes, industrial, political, scientific and cultural expansion. A national icon, she is most remembered for maintaining a strict code of personal morality and family values.

On this day, we celebrate Victoria's birthday and I have been thinking about how much has changed since she ascended to the throne on 20 June 1837.

In Victorian times, it was highly recommended that proverbs and puns should be avoided in conversation. Ladies were never to provoke an argument, speak of religion, or interrupt while another person was speaking. Victorian women we expected to up to date on current events but gossip and whispering were most certainly frowned upon. A lady should never interfere with a man while he was smoking. During a carriage ride, men should sit with their back to the horses and refrain from sitting next to any woman to whom he is unrelated. Dance cards were expected and any woman dancing with the same man more than three times with the same partner was inappropriate. No man should ask to dance with a woman to whom he has not been introduced. A gentleman will dismount from his horse before conversing with a woman.

With the Industrial Revolution, came a period of social and economic flux as an segment of society emerged, known as the middle class. This was a segment of society for which the accepted norms of the tenement or far would not suffice. In the latter part of the 1800s, there was a surge in the number of instruction books written, providing a guide to the rules of polite society. Some of these were simple, common sense rules like "refrain from chewing with your mouth open" and others were more elaborate rituals that in today's age seem very quaint.

With the advent of the steam powered engine, people were able to travel more easily and factories were able to locate almost anywhere. Women began to travel more, alone. Lady travellers were advised to be punctual and to dress demurely, so as not to attract attention. They were to carry very little luggage, perhaps no more than a small satchel or a fashionable carpet bag containing those items required for grooming, a shawl, night clothes, a nightcap and clean linen. It was appropriate for a lone woman to seat herself next to another woman or an elderly gent.

If encountering an unpleasant exchange with a strange man, the female traveller was advised to lower her veil and turn away from him, thereby discouraging any further interaction. A lady was to sit quietly and avoid any fussing or fidgeting else she would be seen as being ill-bred or dis-eased with society.

Today's traveller is unlikely to be without a cell phone... and fidget spinners have become all the rage. Forbes magazine has said they're the must-have office toy for 2017. Imagine what Victoria would say?

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Nature is an Architect's School

May 6th, 2017

In 1914, famed architect Frank Lloyd Write wrote, " the ideal of an organic architecture... is a sentient, rational building that would owe its style to the integrity with which it was individually fashioned to serve its particular purpose- a 'thinking' as well as 'feeling' process." Wright felt that, "the site should be enhanced by the building, and the building derives its form partially from the nature of its site".

The creative possibilities of form, colour, pattern, texture, proportion, rhythm and growth are all demonstrated in nature. Organic architecture does not imitate nature; but rather is concerned with natural materials. Simplicity in the art is a synthetic positive quality; in which we see evidence of the mind, with the sense of completeness found in a tree or flower.

Once in a while, something extraordinary comes on the market.

It began, once upon a time...

In 1980, a Polish aristocrat engaged a noted architect to design a home, suited to a large estate lot, close to Algonquin Park. The results are spectacular.

Nestled on 158 naturally treed acres, this spacious, year round, four bedroom home enjoys absolute privacy without the need for fences or hedges. There is frontage on a navigable creek, ponds, varied topography, including a private look out point. Convenient to all the amenities in a nearby town, you can also walk to the local village.

Serious inquiries are invited to email us for further information and photographs.

Rumblings at the OMB

April 27th, 2017

According to the Ministry of Housing and Municipal Affairs, "The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) is an independent, quasi-judicial, administrative tribunal responsible for handling appeals of land-use planning disputes and municipal matters. For example, appeals to the OMB could involve official plans, zoning bylaws, plans of subdivision or minor variances."

For years, many have argued that the OMB is not exactly democratic and that community residents have felt undermined when dealing with experienced developers, savvy in how to negotiate their interests with the Board. In response, the Province of Ontario has been reviewing the OMB process and functions and making changes that may allow local municipalities a greater say in the development of their communities. Opponents suggest that local municipalities don't want to have to make difficult decisions and see the OMB as a solution.

Regardless of your outlook, it appears that we're in for some changes and, as per usual, it seems that it's going to put an even greater strain on local resources.

No Cooling Off for the HOT Real Estate Market

April 11th, 2017

While there are concerted attempts to cool the real estate markets, things aren't really slowing down. Mortgage lenders are being more cautious, appraisers are being conservative and Realtors are guarded but still, Buyers want to buy and Sellers are happy to sell.

The Toronto and Vancouver markets are expected to see a very slight lull in the wake of government attempts to cool their markets but it is not really deterring foreign Buyers who are prepared to do what they must to secure property in those areas. The net effect seems to be that properties aren't selling quite as quickly but they are still garnering high prices and the volumes are still higher than last year.

This is driving people to the suburbs... and even the suburban prices are climbing and more new home construction is taking place. Nationwide, there has been a 5.6 per cent increase in the number of private dwellings. Population growth in Canada has been slow but it reached 35.2 million in 2016, an increase of 1.7 million (about 5%) over 2011. Two-thirds of the new people coming from immigration- the strongest growth of all the G7 countries. So, not only are people moving to Canada, they want to own their own home.

The uncontrolled growth of our cities is known as urban sprawl. It creates bedroom communities of commuters who rely upon cars to transport them to work in urban centres. As the suburbs expand, growth pushes out into the rural landscape. Remote communities are becoming the target for developers and this can't really be a total surprise. While newcomers are accustomed to higher density living, many long-term city dwellers are uncomfortable with the crowding, not to mention the escalation in prices.

It was bound to happen. Smaller commercial centres are welcoming and familiar to those who have grown accustomed to the healthy, vibrant, thriving, liveable communities that afford community health and individual well-being. This is good news for rural communities who haven't had the population to support the investment in widespread communication towers and other important infrastructure improvements.

The nature of life is change and we do adapt. It's just time to get on with it.

Choosing the Right Property

March 24th, 2017

Generally speaking, real estate is not a get-rich-quick scheme but if you review Canadian Real Estate history, property in a good area doubles in value about every fifteen years. Some neighbourhoods evaluate more quickly than others but seldom to you hear about anyone losing money in real estate, over the long term- especially if they've taken the time to choose the right investment.

Assuming you've spoken to a lender and you've gotten pre-approved and know your price range and how much you need for the down payment and you've factored-in a little buffer for unexpected repairs or incidentals- AND regardless of whether you plan to live in the property or rent all or part of it to tenants, the top three considerations when you contemplate a real estate purchase are location, location, location.

Sure, you've heard it a million times, but have you really thought about it?

There's more to location than scoping out the schools and hospital, it's wise to visit the property at different times of the day and night, on both sunny and rainy days. Talk to the neighbours, ask about drainage, snow removal, school buses and garbage pick up or disposal sites.

Purchasing real estate should always be thought of as an investment and it can be financially rewarding but if you have to sell suddenly, you're going to better off with a property that checks off all the boxes and is located in a good, stable community.