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The Beach Triangle Residents Association, Toronto, Ontario

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Home History: The 'Queen' of the Triangle's Grand Old Ladies

By John Ellis

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This article was originally published in the Winter 2009 edition of the Triangle Topics newsletter.

The Triangle boasts several grand old houses on the corners of its intersections but, in my opinion, the 'Queen' is 82 Dixon on the northwest corner of Dixon and Rainsford. Current owner, Kate Langford, asked for a look into the history of her home.

82 Dixon has several features that make it stand out: A turret on the southeast corner rises to a round, pointed roof with a wind vane beautifully integrated into the roof lines; a large covered balcony (with a flag holder) over the front porch; ornamental shingling in the east gable end; a well designed addition at the back of the main floor to expand the kitchen area and to add a cozy family/TV room, added by the Rubino's (good BTRA supporters) a few years ago. A fine old pine tree guards the house on the east side. Morning and afternoon sunlight flows across the lawn, bordered by lovely gardens, into the front living room, dining room and kitchen.

Inside, 82 Dixon continues to live up to her outer promise. Of three impressive rooms, two are on the main floor: As you enter the front door, to your right is the living room and, beyond, the dining room.

The living room is outstanding, with its bow window (inside the turret) and working fireplace, with original dark varnished mantel, to the left of the bow window. To the right is a 1920's upright piano that was in Kate's family. The room is completed with a lovely area rug, easy chairs and sofa. The dining room is also impressive, with original varnished gumwood beams bordering coffered ceilings and handsome antique dining suite.

Original trim boards have been painted white to lighten the rooms, most of the walls and ceilings are original plaster, and light fixtures are tasteful reproductions of period fixtures. Ground floor hardwood has been replaced with glossy, dark hardwood.

Having ascended to the second floor on the original varnished gumwood staircase, you find three bedrooms, a bathroom and a sun porch off the back bedroom. At the front of the floor, you find the second-most impressive room in the house the master bedroom. This room has a sleigh bed tucked into the bow window, and another, working and very pretty fireplace to the left. Originally, this was one small room, with another small room adjacent to it but a previous owner very sensibly opened a large doorway between the two rooms and closed the hall doorway. Now the master bedroom is quite spacious, with abundant closet storage and room for a computer area. As icing on the cake, this area opens to the covered balcony over the front porch with its Doric columns and lots of room for genteel outdoor sitting. And now let's look at the history of our grand old lady:

John J. Gibson, a developer of several Triangle properties, first acquired the property in 1911. It was assessed at $800. In 1912, he sold it to Davis B. Bowerman at an assessed value of $1,410. On April 14, 1913, D.B. Bowerman of 5 Sheppard Avenue East obtained a Building Permit to build four detached 2-storey brick dwellings on Dixon Avenue, near Rainsford.

Considering how perfectly integrated the design is, it's surprising that no architect is named on the permit. The 1914 assessment was $850 for the land and $2,600 for the building for a total of $3,420 (a considerable sum in those days). By 1914, 82 Dixon was ready to welcome its first family, Frank and Ida Hawkins and their daughter, Hellen. Frank was 45 years old, Ida was 42 and Hellen was 16.

Frank was born near Goderich in Huron County and, in his twenties, went to Colborne to work. There he met Ida Maude Hetherington, and they were married in the Methodist Church in 1895. In 1898, Hellen was born. Frank was a bookkeeper for Moose Factory Tanners and worked in Collingwood and Burks Falls before moving to Toronto.

In 1911 Frank made $1,000 and held $2,000 in life insurance (he was doing well). By 1914, he had saved enough to buy a grand home at 82 Dixon Avenue in Toronto. However, their stay was brief. In 1916, Thomas Wilson bought the house and moved in with his wife and two children. The records yield nothing conclusive about the Wilson's. Thus ends our look at the early history of the 82 Dixon, Queen of the Grand Old Ladies of the Triangle.