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Real Estate

Surreal Estate: $1.2 million for a Brantford century home once owned by the Conklin carnival clan

What Edwardian red-brick would be complete without a circus-tent ceiling and a bench swing as well as its original grapevine mouldings and grand staircase?

By Mathew Silver| Photography by Kevin Game, Your3DHome
Surreal Estate: $1.2 million for a Brantford century home once owned by the Conklin carnival clan

Neighbourhood: Holmedale, Brantford Price: $1,249,000 Last sold for: $475,000 in 2012 Size: 3,700 square feet Bedrooms: 5 Bathrooms: 2+1 Agent: Morgan Leblanc


The place

A five-bedroom, two-plus-one-bathroom Edwardian red-brick in Brantford. Nestled on a corner lot in the quiet neighbourhood of Holmedale, the place has plenty of period details, like pocket doors, 12-inch baseboards, aged hardwood floors and, perhaps the most elegant touch, mouldings that look like icing on a wedding cake.

The history

Originally built in 1912, this house was purchased in 1959 by Jimmy Conklin, son of Patty Conklin, the Carnival King. He and his family owned Conklin Shows, which had the rights to operate the midway at the Canadian National Exhibition, the Calgary Stampede and the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver. It’s believed that Jimmy lived in the house until 1964.

Fast forward to 2012, when Kimberley Williamson and her husband, Erik, were living in New York with their three children. Kimberley worked in marketing at a social media agency, and Erik had a good gig at Goldman Sachs, but they were attracted to the idea of raising their kids in Canada. So they started looking at property in Erik’s hometown of Brantford.

The Williamsons bought the old Conklin family home in early 2013 for $475,000 and immediately began renovations. All told, they spent close to $300,000 overhauling the kitchen, adding a new roof, swapping out the windows, doing a bunch of plaster work and slapping on a fresh coat of white paint. During the project, while stripping off the wallpaper in one of the bedrooms, they discovered a ceiling painted like a circus tent.

Toronto, Real Estate, Surreal Estate, Brantford, Conklin Family: Circus Tent Ceiling
The Williamsons uncovered this carnival ceiling after purchasing the old Conklin family property

After more than a decade in the house, the Williamsons moved to Roncesvalles Village—more urban and closer to Goldman Sachs’s Toronto offices—and put the red-brick back on the market.

The tour

Here’s a closer look at the façade: the shutters are original, but Kimberley and Erik painted them black a few years ago. The old-timey doorbell operates on a butler bell system, with a call box inside the kitchen indicating which bell is ringing. The glass in the front door is leaded and casts rainbows inside, depending on the position of the sun.

Toronto, Real Estate, Surreal Estate, Brantford, Conklin Family: facade

In the handsome foyer: original penny tile flooring.

Toronto, Real Estate, Surreal Estate, Brantford, Conklin Family: foyer

Erik converted this front room into an office. Check out the grapevine plaster mouldings on the ceiling.

Toronto, Real Estate, Surreal Estate, Brantford, Conklin Family: office

There’s more unique moulding in the living room, with that interior ring done in the style of wedding cake icing and the outer ring meant to evoke a silk ribbon decorated with bows and roses. The Carrara marble mantle is also of the period, likely salvaged from another house in the neighbourhood during the Great Depression.

Toronto, Real Estate, Surreal Estate, Brantford, Conklin Family: living room

Down the hall is the dining room, with a crystal globe light fixture from Restoration Hardware.

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Toronto, Real Estate, Surreal Estate, Brantford, Conklin Family: dining room

The kitchen is the one room in the home that is purely contemporary. Its floors are made from porcelain ceramic installed in a herringbone pattern, with in-floor heating. All of the appliances are Miele, and the backsplash is subway-tile ceramic. The cabinets were custom-made by an artisan in Scotland.

Toronto, Real Estate, Surreal Estate, Brantford, Conklin Family: kitchen

A reverse shot of the kitchen reveals the dining peninsula, which seats six. The open shelving, large windows and fireplace bring the charm.

Toronto, Real Estate, Surreal Estate, Brantford, Conklin Family: kitchen peninsula

Here’s the grand staircase, which stretches up to the third floor.

Toronto, Real Estate, Surreal Estate, Brantford, Conklin Family: grand staircase

This second-floor bedroom is where the Williamsons discovered the circus-tent ceiling. Those wall sconces are period—Kimberley got them from her in-laws, whose house was also built in 1912.

Toronto, Real Estate, Surreal Estate, Brantford, Conklin Family: bedroom

This bathroom is a total time warp, equipped with its original wallpaper, tiles and penny flooring. Notice the little silver-fish candle holders on the left, which are original to the house.

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Toronto, Real Estate, Surreal Estate, Brantford, Conklin Family: bathroom

The main bedroom connects to the bathroom. It has wall-to-wall closets and a chandelier that dates back to the Great Depression.

Toronto, Real Estate, Surreal Estate, Brantford, Conklin Family: main bedroom

Another bedroom on the second floor, this one connecting to a sunroom.

Toronto, Real Estate, Surreal Estate, Brantford, Conklin Family: fourth bedroom

That sunroom is currently set up as an office. The family added insulation and a heater to keep it toasty during the winter months.

Toronto, Real Estate, Surreal Estate, Brantford, Conklin Family: sun room

Now the fourth-floor bedroom, with vaulted ceilings.

Toronto, Real Estate, Surreal Estate, Brantford, Conklin Family: fifth bedroom

This rec room is where the kids would play ping-pong and watch TV.

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Toronto, Real Estate, Surreal Estate, Brantford, Conklin Family: rec room

The fenced-in side yard has pool potential.

Toronto, Real Estate, Surreal Estate, Brantford, Conklin Family: backyard

And many romantic evenings await on this bench swing.

Toronto, Real Estate, Surreal Estate, Brantford, Conklin Family: bench swing

Have a home that’s about to hit the market? Send you property to realestate@torontolife.com.  

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