Tag: Thomas Elgie House

New poured foundation of the enlarged Elgie House

elgie-foundation-w insert A poured concrete foundation for the historic Elgie House has been created at 262 Bessborough Drive. It is the future resting place of the 19th Century pioneer home and a new extension which will be built onto it. It appears that the time of the great shift of the home onto this foundation is coming near. Right now, the home sits beside the foundation (inset) on two layers of steel beams and below them wooden blocks.

Thomas Elgie House moves forward on Leaside property

bess house beams-both

Thomas G Elgie House Sunday, May 31, 2015

The 19th Century Thomas Elgie House has been moved forward a few metres on the homestead property at 262 Bessborough Drive, land that will soon be home to two additional homes, newly-built by the owner and contractor  There will be an addition to the Elgie home and it appears the foundation is being dug. The estimated 135 year old home is now perched on both steel beams (two courses) and wooden blocks on the earth.

Are there plans to record shift of Thomas Elgie house?

elgie moveAs of Saturday, May 16, the Thomas Elgie home at 262 Bessborough Drive is up on beams suitable for its short trip to the front of the property where it has stood for something like 170 years. The last time we looked at the home this work seemed far off. That was three weeks ago. The pioneer home is scheduled to be renovated into a single family dwelling on one of three lots to be carved from the property, which overlooks Talbot Park to the north. The work has gone on so far quite quietly. There does not appear to be a foundation waiting for the pioneer residence. But we can surely expect the work to be done imminently. It is reasonable to ask if there are plans set for the making of a proper record of this moment in the history of Leaside.

Thomas Elgie house trimmed to 19th century dimensions


The 19th century part of the Thomas Elgie family home at 262  Bessborough Dr. now stands as a dwelling much as it looked in the 1840s, when it is said to have been built. None of us was around then of course, and the records aren’t very good, but it appears the two storey home with a chimney on the east side and a wing to the south was what the first builder constructed. The recent work has removed an extension said to have been built in the 1970s. The picture on the right seems to be from the 1950s or 60s before the extension was built. A mediated agreement last year permitted the owner and builder, Matthew Garnet, to subdivide the property to place two new homes on Bessborough with the Elgie home sitting on a third lot. From the shape of the remaining historic home it might sit better longitudinally facing Bessborough. The changes over the years are interesting. The original had its front door under a porch on the east side. Along the way that door became a window and had another placed above it. Pioneer homes did not have many windows. There are steel beams lying on the property which will be used to move the structure but that job appears a distance off.  The home has not been underpinned nor is there any foundation waiting for it yet.

Two new homes set for Bessborough Dr. site

Geoff Kettel, one of the parties to the mediation process dealing with the Elgie farmhouse, says an agreement has been struck to build two additional homes on the property at 262 Bessborough Drive. This was the goal of the developer Matthew Garnet. It has also been agreed that the Elgie farmhouse will be moved some seven metres forward on the lot. This is a change from the Toronto Committee of Adjustment finding that the “placement, setback and orientation” were integral to the home’s historical attributes. In other words, the house could not to be moved. It was, in the mind of the developer at least, a contentious matter given the many heritage homes which are moved to suitable locations so development might occur. It appears that the size of the old farmhouse will be reduced but the details are appaently not complete. As many will recall, most of  the home dates from the 1970s. and as shown in the picture above, the original home was built in the 19th Century. Mr, Kettel, who represented the Leaside Property Owners Association, also reveals that the other members of the Leaside mediation team were Renee Jacoby (for Parkhurst) and Sheila Murray (for Bessborough).

OMB mediation set for 262 Bessborough Dr.

The Toronto office of the Ontario Municipal Board has scheduled mediation for today on the disputed severance of land associated with 262 Bessborough Drive — the Elgie House properties. The process is set to begin at 10 a.m. according to the published agenda and its status is marked as open to the public. OMB 

Private home, public park or political football

It’s easy to see why neighbors at the north end of Bessborough Drive and elsewhere want to leave the historic Thomas G. Elgie home just as it is. The property is currently owned by Renaissance Homes of Toronto and its president Matthew Garnet is trying to make some money from it.  What’s left of the Elgie family’s 200-odd acre farm from the mid-1880s is a verdant corner of the community providing a park-like atmosphere for those who live there. Over the years members of the Elgie family, a conservative clan from the United Kingdom, have given much public service to Ontario. Their story is important. The building that sits on the property today is well off the street and consists of mainly two parts. One dates from 1883 and the other from the 1970s. The picture above shows the general size and shape of today’s Elgie House and the inset black and white picture, taken in 1934, shows the piece in which the pioneer family huddled so long ago. Mr. Garnet’s plan is to divide the property in three lots using two of them for new homes. On the third lot, he proposes to relocate the renovated portion of the Elgie home which was built in 1883. The 20th century part would be demolished. That plan has been rejected by City Council and by the Committee of Adjustment. The home is a heritage property — as it should be — and with preservationists and neighbors in agreement, the Renaissance proposals have gone nowhere.  In this election year there is no appetite for it at the office of Councillor John Parker (Ward 26). So Mr. Garnet has taken his case to the Ontario Municipal Board. On Monday, May 12 the OMB will weigh the argument that the location of the farmhouse on the property — its  “placement, setback and orientation”  — are integral to the home’s historical attributes. In other words, it can’t be moved to that third lot Mr. Garnet wants to create. Some may say it is an interesting position for the City to take in a province where every summer weekend sees a historical home being moved to a commercially suitable location.

Elgie House, 262 Bessborough, to be heritage site

Courtesy of Anthony Regan

John Parker (Ward 26) has sent a general e-mail reporting on the status of the Thomas G. Elgie House, 262 Bessborough Drive. He says that the Toronto Preservation Board last week voted to recommend that City Council state its intention to designate the property a heritage site. He recalls that the large property is located on the heights south of Talbot Park overlooking Leaside High School. Mr. Parker notes that the most recent residents were Mary and Sven Linholm, who are said to be well remembered and fondly so by Leaside residents. The proposed designation identifies specific “heritage attributes” in accordance with the legislation. These include “the building known historically as the Thomas G. Elgie House”, “the original centre section of the two-storey house form building with its scale, form and massing,” the “original red brick cladding and trim on the exposed elevations of the original main body of the house,” “the gable roof and trim, brick chimney and original fenestration” on the east facade (facing Bessborough)” and “the original window opening” on the west wall. Mr. Parker’s mail is lengthy and will be of interest to those who know the property. It may be read in full  on this page.

Elgie House selling price was $2.5 million

The historic home known as Elgie House at 262 Bessborough Drive sold for $2,5 million. The asking price had been $2.75 million. The sale has been confirmed and information published by the Toronto Real Estate Board.   Previous post.

John Parker’s mail (complete) on Elgie house

Photo Courtesy of Leaside Centennial Productions

Further to messages I have circulated on this matter over the past year, I am pleased to report that the Toronto Preservation Board last week voted to recommend that City Council state its intention to designate the property at 262 Bessborough Drive under Part IV, Section 29 of the Ontario Heritage Act.

262 Bessborough Drive is the large property located immediately south of Leaside High School. Its most recent residents were Mary and Sven Linholm, both fondly remembered by many Leaside residents. The original dwelling dates back to the latter part of the 19th Century, and is stated in the formal heritage study report as “a rare surviving farmhouse and the oldest residential building in Leaside.” The City process leading to last week’s proceedings before the Board was initiated last winter at my request.

I appeared at last week’s meeting and confirmed my support for designation. The proposed designation identifies specific “heritage attributes” in accordance with the legislation. These include “the building known historically as the Thomas G. Elgie House”, “the original centre section of the two-storey house form building with its scale, form and massing,” the “original red brick cladding and trim on the exposed elevations of the original main body of the house,” “the gable roof and trim, brick chimney and original fenestration” on the east façade (facing Bessborough)” and “the original window opening” on the west wall. It is to be noted that only the original home and its elements are identified in the proposed designation, not the large additions that comprise a significant part of the present structure.

A bit of news in the report that I found interesting: the east elevation, which for about a hundred years has been the front of the house, was originally a side wall. The original front door faced south; something that few current local residents would have been alive to have seen. For that reason it struck me as particularly interesting that one of the enumerated heritage attributes includes “the specific location, setback and orientation of the building on the west side of Bessborough….” That is to say, the declared heritage attributes consist of not only the house itself, but also its location and – at least some of – its surroundings, including its relationship with Bessborough Drive.

I suggested (unsuccessfully) at the Board that the matter of location and context might better be expressed in terms of the home’s placement on the high point of land overlooking the broad expanse of land below to the south, which clearly did not include Bessborough Drive at all, in as much as there was no such road at the time. The matter of location and context could turn out to be important points where the future of this property is concerned.

Keep reading. 262 Bessborough Drive has recently become the focus of particular local interest for reasons unrelated to its heritage character. This was prompted by the appearance of a For Sale sign on the front lawn last November, quickly followed by speculation of a potential town house development. When this came to my attention my immediate step was to contact the City’s Preservation Services department to enquire as to the status of its file on the property. I had always been made to understand that the home was a “heritage property” and was therefore surprised to find that the department responsible for heritage matters in fact had no file on it. Accordingly, I then put into motion the heritage designation process that resulted in last Thursday’s proceeding. My next step was to track down the listing agent and let her know that I had done that.

The eventual designation of the existing house eliminates the potential that the property can be razed and treated as a development site. The recognition of “location, setback and orientation” as specific heritage elements can itself be expected to be a limiting factor on any proposal to subdivide the property. In short, upon designation, any development activity that takes place on the site will only be accommodated in the context of addressing the heritage elements in the designation.

Questions of development will be assessed not only according to Planning Act criteria such as the City’s bylaws and Official Plan and other customary considerations, but by the unique criteria relating specifically to the Ontario Heritage Act as well. I see the heritage designation of the Elgie House as an important step in preserving an important part of our community’s earliest heritage. I see it also as a pivotal factor in determining the future of the property at 262 Bessborough Drive and its impact on neighbouring properties.