Friday, March 29, 2013
Welcome to the most expensive residential property in Canadian history.
Luxury. Prosperity. Fortune. Affluence. Excess. These are not words that are frequently used to describe the types of locations that I explore. But here along the shore of Lake Ontario, on Oakville's 'gold coast', these aren't just words, they are a lifestyle, and have been so for quite some time.
The history of the heritage property is steeped in wealth and riches. The original summer home at Edgemere Estate was built in 1905 by James Ryrie, after he merged his jewellery business with Birk's. Ryrie hired Canada's first landscape architect Charles Ernest Woolverton to transform the 14 acre property from an orchard to an elegant Edwardian garden.
In the early 1990s, this opulent modern Georgian-Style mega mansion at Edgemere Estate was custom built by construction mogul Peter Gilgan, president of Mattamy Homes, one of Canada's largest home construction firms.
The 32,000 square foot, four-storey main house included 9 bedrooms, 17 bathrooms, sweeping foyer, 20 seat theatre, spa, massive playroom, spiral staircases and an elevator. It was outfitted with smart home technology that provided control of everything imaginable. At the push of a button, one could light their way to the kitchen from a third floor bedroom on the opposite side of the house, dim chandeliers, ignite fireplaces or open and close window blinds.
The luxurious property also included 300 metres of shoreline, a private pebble beach, boat house, four car garage, pool, gardener's cottage, stable, greenhouse, century old Japanese teahouse and a baseball diamond.
In 2007, only 15 years after the mansion was built, the Gilgan's had divorced and the Estate was put up for sale. To this day, it has the distinction of being the most expensive residential property ever to be listed for sale in Canada, with a gargantuan price tag of $45 million.
The property sold for $35 million and the new owners, under the name Edgemere Estate Limited, announced their plans for the property, much to the chagrin of nearby residents. The plan: to demolish the 32,000 square foot mansion and construct 30 über luxurious condominiums.
After rezoning and public waterfront access issues were addressed, the plan was given a green light by the city of Oakville. Almost immediately, deconstruction began on the mansion and construction began on the condominiums. The remaining contents within the mansion were put to auction, including everything from furniture and chandeliers, to windows and doors.
In mid-march of 2013, Ninja and I were on an exploring extravaganza that we called the '2013 Anniversary Tour', which also included a visit to the Crowe Foundry and the Tower Automotive Tower. On this leg of the journey, we were accompanied by our friend Emceeay.
As hammers swung and a crew of construction workers pounded nails into rooftops, the three of us crept quietly onto the property and made our way into Canada's most expensive home, which had been severely gutted and prepared for demolition.
More money than you know what to do with.
I never really understood that phrase until now.
click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
The economic crisis. The great recession. The lesser depression.
Irrelevant are the labels, it was a financial free fall in the period between 2007-2009, from which global economies are still fighting to recover. Banks tightened the purse straps and it became increasingly difficult for businesses to access bank loans that they relied upon to maintain day to day operations. Many businesses were left with only one option: to declare bankruptcy and close their doors forever. Crowe Foundry was one of those casualties, and in January of 2009, the iron foundry was shut down and approximately 150 employees lost their jobs.
The building has deteriorated and decayed at an astonishing rate in the following four years and is rumoured to be demolished in the near future.
In an effort to diversify from their piano plate business, Bob and Don Crowe established the Griffin Foundry in 1953, alongside the Speed River in what was known at the time as Hespeler, Ontario.
In 1955, the piano plate and foundry businesses were amalgamated and the Griffin Foundry was renamed Crowe Foundry Limited.
In 1973, the town of Hespeler amalgamated with neighbouring communities Galt and Preston to form the city of Cambridge.
Crowe Foundry produced grey and ductile iron castings, electric motor castings, pump bodies, transmission cases, and diesel engine parts.
The Crowe Commitment
Crowe Foundry employees at work (photos from Crowe Foundry website)
Ninja and I visited the foundry in mid March of 2013 on the '2013 Anniversary Tour', amidst a jam packed weekend of exploring a variety of abandoned locations that also included a police station, an opulent mega mansion undergoing preparations for an impending demolition, and a towering high rise overlooking Toronto's skyline, just to name a few.
Rays of early morning sunlight illuminated fluttering clouds of dust particles in the air. That same sunlight reflected up at us from the sporadic sheets of ice covering the puddles about the muddied ground. Jagged metal hung precariously from the high ceiling above, where numerous pigeons crissed and crossed. The pigeons, and the wind, interacting with the loose metals and fibreglass, played a chorus of sounds during our visit. We ascended all of the staircases and ladders, crossed the catwalks and popped up onto the roof.
As the Crowe flies
As the Crowe dies
The economic ladder to nowhere
It all comes crashing down
The green room
It is all about the green
The economic ladder is broken
The silence is deafening
Out of the black into the red
Climbing the corporate ladder
Shattered the glass ceiling
Management has lost control
Not a big fan of capitalism
Catwalk this way
Roof topped off
Lights out on Crowe
Shown the door
White collar grime
Terminated - Not calling in when absent
Locker room etiquette
In the employee lunch room, I found a welding mask and safety glasses, so I put them on. In the locker room, I searched through the lockers and came across a workers shirt, so I put it on too. A patch bearing the company name was stitched to the left breast. On the right, a patch bearing the name Thomas sat upon my chest. I modified the old expression and said to Ninja, "If the shirt fits, wear it." With that said, I left the break room and sauntered back out onto the factory floor and picked up a drill from the thawing mud. I stood there, looking around, in full uniform.
Employee of the month
Crowe Foundry employee Thomas (jerm IX)
But alas, there was no work to be done. Nothing at all for a Thomas to do. No orders coming in, no stock shipping out. No supervisor, no union rep, no co-workers.
So I did exactly what Thomas did in January of 2009, I disrobed, hung my work shirt in my locker, put on my coat, and left Crowe behind forever.
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The '2013 Anniversary Tour' weekend of exploring was part of our celebration of our 17 year anniversary, which is today. We are so blessed to have found true love, which we built upon a foundation of trust and respect. I love her more and more every single day.
click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES