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How a High Park home was reborn after partly burning down in a mid-reno fire

By David Berry| Photography by Derek Shapton
Illustration by Aleksandar Janicijevic
Illustration by Aleksandar Janicijevic

Charles Gane and Robin MacAulay were renting an apartment on Quebec Avenue when they fell in love with Wendigo Way, the street that runs along the northwest corner of High Park. In 1998, a bungalow on the street went on the market, and they nabbed it. Though Gane, who is a principal at Core Architects, and MacAulay, a senior director at McCarthy Tétrault, loved the location, they wanted to start a family (they now have two teenage sons), which meant they’d need more space. Gane drew up plans for an airy second-floor kitchen and living space, and re­imagined the original first-floor layout as three cozy bedrooms, doubling the house’s size to 2,000 square feet. Almost a year into their renovation, the unthinkable happened: the house was torched in the night by vandals. Gane and MacAulay lost the entire reno and had to start over from the ground up. The finished product, risen from the ashes, brings a cottage feel to their corner of the city. They love the way the house’s rugged, earthy materials and textures complement the trees of High Park, which are always in view. The second-floor windows have no coverings of any kind; the green canopy that first drew the couple to the area provides all the privacy and shade the house needs.

MacAulay picked up the berber wool rug in Marrakesh, where she and Gane travelled for a friend’s 60th birthday celebration. Rough-edge limestone surrounds the living room fireplace:

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Soaring printed scrolls from Hollace Cluny emphasize the height of Gane’s addition:

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The photo of the Victor Emmanuel II monument in Rome was taken by Gane’s colleague at Core Architects, Babak Eslahjou:

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The cabinets and wainscoting were custom-built by Millennium Millwork:

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The light fixtures in every room but the kitchen are variations on a single style from Artemide called Tolomeo:

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This painting is part of Ottawa artist Richard Gorman’s Orpheus series:

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Gane and MacAulay preserved the natural colour of the Douglas Fir on the spacious screened front porch to blend in with the park’s surrounding trees:

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The dining room chairs are original Arne Jacobsen Series 7:

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