Why I Live Here: In a Victorian House

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There’s a definite appeal to making your home in a historic Victorian house. Architecturally, the decorative brickwork, dentil moulding, dormer windows, multiple peaks (and perhaps even a turret) are stunning, and Victorians often include the added benefit of a covered front porch. Inside, you enjoy the charm of late 19th-century decor: wood flooring, wide baseboards and gorgeous wainscoting. And what’s a drawback for other homeowners can be a non-issue for an empty nester. No attached double garage or main-floor family room? No problem if your kids have already flown the coop. For those in the market for a classic English-inspired abode, we scoped out three Ontario communities known for their Victorian housing.

By Lisa Bendall


Population 366,151 (Statistics Canada)

Need to know “I think London is a beautiful town and an affordable town and still reasonably compact,” says award-winning novelist Joan Barfoot (shown left). “It’s a nice city but it’s not a tourist city.” She loves her Victorian home in London: “It has a fantastic huge porch. I’m a porch person in the summer, because you can do anything on it! I read out there and work and entertain.” Well-treed, pretty London serves as a regional hub for the smaller communities of southwestern Ontario, providing retail, dining and entertainment.

Average home price $255,034 (London and St. Thomas Association of Realtors)
From a real estate agent “London is very much a college and university town, so I’ve always enjoyed that aspect of it. There’s a wide variety of people. It’s quite a bit cheaper to live here than in any other comparable city. People in their 40s or 50s from this area, their long-range plan is to make some money and then come back to retire. They can sell their $700,000 house and buy an equivalent house here for $400,000 and have lots of money for travelling and helping out kids.”  —Broker Jim Straughan, Realty Executives Elite Ltd., has loved living in the London area for more than 20 years.





Population 21,870 (Statistics Canada)

Need to know The 181-year-old village of Brockville was founded on the shore of the St. Lawrence River. The older homes here have been kept up, and there are many heritage sites to explore in the region, including Canada’s oldest railway tunnel. Today, residents of Brockville can enjoy scuba diving, boating and cruising among the river’s Thousand Islands, as well as more than two dozen annual events and festivals.

Average home price $259,698 (City of Brockville)

From a real estate agent “The architecture in Brockville is very attractive. The downtown, while it’s small, has some really interesting, diversified storefronts. The courthouse square has some interest in all seasons. What would suit boomers is the proximity to Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and the U.S. People retire here from those major centres. We have lots of classical music and jazz festivals, we have a very active arts centre and a very busy volunteer core.”  —Catherine Durnford, Royal Lepage ProAlliance Realty, Brokerage, was magnetically drawn back to Brockville after living away.



Population 2.79 million (City of Toronto)

Need to know The Toronto neighbourhood of Cabbagetown (right) comprises one of the largest selections of Victorian houses in North America. Its sidewalk appeal is protected, since it’s been designated a Heritage Conservation District. Most homes have been restored within the past 30 years or so, along with updated wiring and plumbing. Cabbagetown hosts its own annual festivals, garden tours and lane parties.

Average home price $750,000 (Cabbagetown only)

From a real estate agent

“Cabbagetown has the sense of being a small town in a big city. Everybody knows everybody else, and that’s comforting, especially as you get older with security issues or just wanting to know that there are people around. There is an off-leash dog park. You’d never be bored: you’d be out in coffee shops and visiting friends. It’s the diversity of the people and the food and the fact that you’re within a few minutes of downtown Toronto.”  —Richard Silver, Sotheby’s Inter-national Realty, has specialized in Cabbagetown for 33 years.