House hunters in Toronto often say they want a house that strays from the cookie cutter norm. That usually means a home in a historic neighbourhood or a creative colour scheme. But if you’re into truly different dwellings, check out our roundup of some of the strangest houses you’ll see in the city.
From a teensiest house in the city to a home that looks like a Rubik’s cube, our photo tour will take you some of the oddest housing specimens in the city (all photos by James Bombales).
128 Day Avenue
Not far from Dufferin and Rogers Road in the city’s west end, “The Little House” was built in 1912 by Arthur Weeden during the development of the street. Lot 128 was meant to be a laneway for cars to pass through, but the city never delivered the curb so Weeden build a home for himself and his wife. The space measures just 2.2 metres wide by 14.3m long and Weeden called it home for 26 years. Aw!
37 Bertmount Avenue
While the Little House might look like a dollhouse, 37 Bermount Avenue is more of a dollhouse, in a matter of speaking. The Leslieville semi is covered in hundreds of little figures. Owner Shirley Sumaisar told the Toronto Star decorating is her hobby and she and her son stared putting up the dolls, action figures and signs after her husband died.
82 Bond Street
Some people may find all those dolls’ eyes spooky, but 82 Bond Street, also known as Mackenzie House, has more of a supernatural history. A mainstay of Toronto ghost tours, the historic dwelling was the home of the city’s first mayor, William Lyon Mackenzie, a radical journalist, rebellion leader and overall firebrand (he was known to take off his red wig and throw it on ground when he wanted to make a point). Now a museum, stories have been circulating since the 1960s of the appearance of a red-haired apparition and a mysterious lady on the stairs as well as the sound of the printing press running.
32 Bright Street
Bungalows are much more common in the suburbs, which makes this downtown space such a delightful little oddity. Located in Corktown, one of Toronto’s oldest neighbourhoods, Bright Street is known for its skinny row houses. Believe it or not, this worker’s cottage dates all the way back to 1861 and the entire property, from front to back, is just 115-feet deep. It’s the only such cottage on Bright Street. One of the stories circulating about the little house is that a developer bought up the cottages along the street in the 1870s, tore them down and built the row houses. This cottage remained the last hold out, with the owners refusing to sell. The current owners were so smitten by their home they were married in front of their property in October 2011.
53 Croft Street
Laneway houses are still something of a rarity in Toronto. This secretive abode, located behind Croft Street in the Annex, was designed by Toronto firm Kohn Shnier Architects. At 1,300-square feet, it’s deceptively large. Fun features include a garden with an outdoor shower, fireplace and Japanese tub. It event snagged a City of Toronto Architecture and Design Award.
156 Coxwell Avenue
This colouful home is known by many different names including the Lego House, the House on Stilts, or the Rubik’s Cube. Architect Rohan Walters designed the narrow tower in the Upper Beaches, which features 800-square feet of space spread out across three-floors. It might be small, but hey, you do get your very own draw bridge.
469 Broadview Avenue
Toronto features condos, townhouses, semis and detached dwellings…and even a log cabin. Known as the John Cox Cottage, this Riverdale home is believed to be the oldest continuously occupied home in the city. The exact date it was built is unknown but it’s believed that it was erected in the late 18th or early 19th century (sometime before 1807). Sometime later in the 19th century, an addition was made to the north side of the house, transforming it into a Regency-style cottage popular throughout that period. According to City News, a more recent owner was renovating the bathroom when he discovered the exposed log wall, unearthing the unique history of the home.
20 Jerome Street
Located in the West Bend, a small triangular neighbourhood bordered by Keele, Bloor Street and the CP railway line, the space is know as the John Turner House. According to local lore, Turner owned a construction yard around the corner on Dundas and, after terracotta tiles went of style in the early 1900s, he covered his house in a mish-mash of the leftovers from his business.
This whimsical semi in Seaton Village is the home and work of Albino Carreira, who has clad the exterior in pieces of cork, the ends of pool cues, bits of wood and even some coins. According to Style North, it originally started with Carreira covering the mailbox back in 1994 while he was recuperating from a construction accident (he had been in the business for 21 years, working on big name structures such as the Art Gallery of Ontario).
1294 College Street
This blink-and-you’ll miss it space was one of the homes featured in Toronto’s Modern Home Tour last June. Just off of Lansdowne Avenue, the sliver of a space is known as “The Driveway House” and was designed by Rohan Walters, who also created the colourful Lego-style house on our list. Built on a 10-by-37-foot lot, the space is barrier-free on the ground floor and features a living room that opens up right onto the sidewalk.