My parents moved around a lot when I was just a youngun. We lived for a time at Donalda Farms, which was to eventually become Don Mills. We lived in Ajax. Not sure where else bvut we eventually moved in with my grandparents at 7 Hugo Avenue in Toronto. My grandfather passed away soon after we moved in. When I was just about to turn twelve we moved out to the country, to a farm house north of Streetsville, now part of Mississauga. After living in the “big city” where I could go anywhere I wanted to, to living in the middle of nowhere, miles from anything, I was pissed at my parents. Eventually I learned to play with my brother and sister and we had lots of fun. The saving grace was that all my parent’s friends came out on the weekends and brought their kids, so there was always lots of kids around to play with. I was always the oldest though, so I did more babysitting than playing.
My first digs on my own were a bachelor apartment in an old building my Dad had bought at 226 Main Street in Brampton. I paid him $90 a month. It had a shared bathroom, a door to the horrible crawl space type basement, about a four foot kitchen, a closet of a living room and a tiny bedroom. I had a TV and two lawn chairs and that pretty well filled it up. For a time I shared it with Russ Bird, who ended up being my best man at my wedding. Can’t imagine how we ever shared such a small place. For a while Janice and I pretty well lived together although that was never actually official until we got married.
In a casual conversation with my Dad about Chris coming along and us needing more space, he asked why I just didn’t buy the building from him? Here I was barely twenty, with no money, no credit and a new baby, but I thought what the hell and started trying to find financing. I worked for the bank and figured it would be a snap. Wrong! Not only would my own bank not touch me, but no bank or credit union would. I ended up getting two private mortgages which cost me a fortune in penalties and bonuses and I bought the place with a hundred dollars, for a grand total of nineteen thousand dollars.
There were four apartments in the house. Ours was most of the main floor; an old guy who worked at the garage down the street had two rooms, but no bathroom (we never figured that one out); then there was the bachelor we originally lived in, which we rented to a single guy. The upstairs had a number of interesting tenants over the time we owned it, the best being the lady who came to the door in her nightie asking me if we could work something out on the rent. I told her I couldn’t pay the mortgage with that! lol
Not too sure how we ended up looking at the place on Fairglen. I think we had some interest in selling the Main Street place so we had talked to a Realtor, Andy Anderson. He called telling me the place we were going to look at was a disaster, but the price was right and we could make good money on it. As soon as he opened the front door the smell of dog piss hit us and Janice wouldn’t even go in. They had black velvet paper on the living room walls; it was cooking hot in the house; the bathroom sink was propped up on two by fours. Yes, the place was rough, but I knew it was structurally sound and everything was cosmetic. It had been listed for $59,900, for months, but had been reduced to $45,900 now. We offered $42,500, final offer, which was accepted. We then had to panic to get Main Street sold to close on Fairglen. It was a very long story, at one point involving a crooked Real Estate agent, Max Harris, who tried to steal the listing from his own company, but we ended up getting bridge financing for six months and eventually sold it to our next door neighbor!
I did a huge amount of work on Fairglen. It was a basic bungalow with things like a purple fascia and lime green foundation. We did a full aluminum siding job and covered it all up. I spent a fortune on landscaping, putting a new lawn front and back and numerous trees and bushes. The neighbors all came by to thank me for getting rid of what was the eyesore of the neighborhood. We sold it some five years later for $59.900 and bought a new house at 122 Elderwood Place, our first and only new home.
There is nothing to compare to your first new home. Getting to pick out all the colours and cabinets and broadloom is great. I also got to install a complete sound system throughout the house before we even took possession. Loved having ceiling speakers and a volume control in our main bathroom because we could crank up the tunes while we showered. I worked hard landscaping the entire yard. We backed onto the ravine so it was beautiful. Our neighbors were Keith and Rhonda Graham. She was a stewardess for the old Wardair and a gorgeous blonde to boot. Janice was never too keen on me going over there.
This was the time I was in Real Estate and the market basically fell apart. Interest rates went off the charts and it was not the time to be in the business. I had no choice but to sell. I sold it myself though, for $96,000 when we only paid $63,500 for it new. We had built up a lot of credit card debt and owed money so we didn’t come out with any windfall. We rented a townhouse on Ashurst Crescent. Our next door neighbour mentioned she was going to sell so we borrowed a down payment from Janice’s mum and bought the place. Moving next door was the worst move of our lives because we didn’t pack anything, so it was a gazillion trips to move. I did a huge amount of work on this one, like removing the wall between the kitchen and dining room and pulling down the bulkheads in the kitchen and adding custom cabinets. We ended up with multiple offers, selling it for more than anyone had ever before. We bought the model home at 26 Mara Crescent, our last home.
Although small this was quite the place because it had been the site superintendent’s home while the subdivision was being built, so it had ever bell and whistle you could imagine. We had ceramic tile where other homes had vinyl. We had a jetted tub in our main bath. We also had a large pie shaped lot and although it did back onto a plaza we had a nice architectural wall and I did a major tree and bush planting to soften it. We had a large deck and lot of flowerbeds.
Unfortunately we sold it right in the middle of one of the worst market crashes ever. Had we been able to sell in good times we would have got at least $240,000 because of all the upgrades and the landscaping. Our next door neighbours whose place had no upgrades bought their place for $221,000, so I know the $240,000 would be realistic. But with the crash we were very lucky to get $189,900, still more than we paid for it, but not great. The worst thing for me was that Janice got it all. I refused to see it all go to a lawyer, even though Janice had always said if we ever split it would be 50/50. Things sure changed as soon as I left. She ended up with the cash to buy a new place. I ended up going bankrupt.
When I moved out West I stayed with my parents on the lake. They had been going south to Yuma, Arizona for years, so I rented the place from them for the first winter I was there. It was the very first time I lived alone in my life and it was wonderful! I still remember the day they left. I was in my pjs and I put my feet up and had my coffee, knowing I didn’t have to do a thing for anybody, for the first time ever. It was heaven!
I’m not sure of the sequence of exactly when I lived where. I had an apartment at the corner of Springfield and Ethel. It was a loft type unit above the stores and I loved it. It was pricey at $800 a month, but I had a room-mate who paid me $300 and was never there. He worked in the field for Telus and was only home a couple of days a month. The perfect roomie! I lived in a townhouse in South Kelowna for a while. It was a nice two bedroom end unit and I had lots of room. I moved there after leaving Karen, with whom I lived for about a year and a half up on McKenzie Road overlooking Kelowna. Nice spot. I lived with Tracy and the kids on Molnar. I moved to live with Doug Cummings, the Realtor, on Menu Road after Tracy asked me to move out. I lived with Ans up on McGinnis Road in Westbank (now West Kelowna). I was living with Ans when my Dad died and I moved in to care for my Mum until I got her into a home. I then sold her place and moved to Horizon Blvd, briefly because the by-law officer came by and told me I could not live there. I was on my way to put a deposit on a basement apartment in Kelowna when I checked my email and there was an email from my Realtor telling me to go and look at a mobile that was about to go into foreclosure and I could just take over the mortgage. The rest was history and the worst mistake of my entire life. I lost everything.
From there it was to a house I rented in Boquete, Panama, then to the place I renovated in Volcancito up in the mountains above Boquete, which turned into major mistake number two. I returned to stay with my cousin in Etobicoke, then moved to London. I lived with three other tenants in a small house on Elliott Street until I had “issues” with the landlady. For a time I slept on the floor of a friend’s office, then I went through all three shelters in London, finally landing in a window-less apartment downtown on King Street, a place I could ill afford even with a job. Back last summer when I was in the shelters I applied for public housing. They finally called and I am now in a public housing building on Hale Street in a one bedroom unit. It’s pretty basic but a whole lot better than staying in a shelter.
I long to return to the Okanagan some day, but, short of winning the lottery, that looks bleak. I miss all my friends out there and the gorgeous valley. I am stuck in a city I loathe and can’t get out of here fast enough. My health is very bad right now and the first priority is to get better, but not a day goes by I don’t want to just head out West, dumb as that may be. I don’t want to die here, all alone with no friends. I hope I deserve better.