1a   1b

1a detached house, new subdivision, West Glen Abbey, North Oakville

We chose this room because it shows that we are a family. My husband is a real estate agent. I work at home as a computer consultant. We have a three-year old son who is heavily into dinosaurs and super heroes. His favourite blanket is on the couch and his favourite show Caillou is playing on TV. We have two poodles that lounge with us on the couch. This corner of our house with the home entertainment system is central to our lives. Instead of going out at night or on weekends we watch movies at home and relax together. We've lived in this house for just under a year. Because my husband often has clients in our home and I work out of the house we try to keep the space as clean and neat as possible. The small horse figures at the window symbolize our love of horses. Both my husband and I rode when younger and we plan to introduce our son to the sport when he is older.

1b detached house, new subdivision, West Oak Trails, North Oakville

1b is a single mother with a 5 year-old daughter who attends a Montessori school. They spend the majority of their time in the kitchen and it's through many of their collaborative activities there that they feel themselves to be a family. 1b and her former husband moved into this house just after their daughter was born. Now with just the two of them, the house is a testament to the way they developed a family culture of self-reliance and mutual support through play and creativity.

The mother works as a legal assistant in downtown Toronto. Everyday it's a juggling act dropping her off at school and working as hard as I can, going without a lunch break so that I can catch the 4:30 train. I would love to find a job in Oakville but salaries are about 30% less than in Toronto.

Cooking is a big source of recreation and, in part due to her Ukrainian background she was taught that one has to know how to do every aspect of meal preparation. From the clearing of the table to the scrubbing of the floor and cutting the vegetables, every detail is important.

Colour is very important to both mother and daughter. Barbie pink especially is favoured by the daughter. Downstairs is a room containing 47 Barbies. Every week the daughter Jordan changes the colour of the fish-bowl water with a few drops of food dye. She is in charge of the display of her artwork in the kitchen and she knows where to find the scotch tape.

2a  2b

2a townhouse built in early 70's
South of Upper Middle Road,
North College Park, North Oakville
pocket of mature trees and homes

The first thing that one sees on entering my home is a shrine. Two years ago on June 24th, 2000 a votive candle was left burning. The heat of the flame broke the glass, the fire spread to the floor. All we saw when we returned was smoke. The fire gutted the wooden frame around the image of Jesus. I was close to tears. I picked up the picture and although others burnt this one was not touched by the fire. The picture of the Virgin Mary was also saved. The Head of the Fire Department asked me: "Do you think that Jesus put out the fire?" And I said, Yes, I do.

My brother in the Philippines gave me the picture of Jesus. Father Joso gave the one of the Virgin Mary to me, the priest who gave refuge to the children who saw the apparition of the Virgin at Medjugorje. He came to Toronto and gave me one and I treasure this.

My husband and I pray here at any time while the dog comes and sits with us. I commute to Toronto to work in the offices of a financial institution so finding serenity in my home is especially important. I have designed this area as a site to reflect, experience peace and pray. My husband, our 21 year-old son and I have lived in this house since 1997.

From the ashes of the fire two years ago came hope. The fire could have caused so much damage and yet the only repair needed was a new coat of paint. The point of my story is that even when things look their messiest there is a message of hope.

2b 1961 bungalow
established neighbourhood
North College Park
south of Upper Middle Road, East of 6th Line

Only two years ago 2b lived in a loft in a seedy and not-yet-trendy part of Toronto. Now, he's in White Oaks--NorthWest Oakville, in a 1961 ranch-style house. This room, his basement, is his tour-de-force of creative design and reminder of the more bohemian lifestyle he left behind.

His goal was to "take a British pub and drop it into New Orleans." The result is a gathering place to jam (guitar, amplifier, organ) watch sports and drink. On TV we see 2b practicing his golf swing as recorded on video.

In his teens he spent a lot of time in the basement rec room listening to music. His parents despaired of his all-consuming interest in rock music. However 2b triumphed when he parlayed this passion into profit through music promotion. Signed posters behind the bar are souvenirs of his meetings with rock celebrities. From left to right: Colin Hay from Men at Work, Alice Cooper, Joshua Kadison and Leonard Cohen.

The dog's cushion in the foreground expertly coordinated with the scene is his wife's contribution. Shortly after he met her he moved from his place of work in Richmond Hill to downtown Toronto. The return to his native Oakville was planned for retirement.

Having other plans for him however, his two parents (who work in real estate) begged him to look at this house. 2b and his wife saw the back yard and knew it was just the place for their new dog to roam in. Then they glimpsed the basement and felt their creative juices rise, this was a place to transform. 2b needed a social magnet, a place exotic enough to compensate for his friend's effort to drive out here. He went on to design a subterranean oasis where he, his family and friends could hang out and not feel they were in Oakville or indeed anywhere familiar or definable.

2b now makes a living from product placement in film and television. He reads scripts and looks for ways to "embed" brands into the scenes. Liquor signs such as "Mike's Hard Lemonade" are ex-props converted to decorative accents. He and Susan Dobson took pains to turn the bar's liquor bottles so that the brands faced the camera.


3a  3b

3a townhouse near central Oakville
North College Park

An ex-Montrealer who moved to Oakville in 1974, 3a lives with his two adult children and wife. All four read and relax in this room which he has designed with the same sensibility and attention to comfort as the Arbour Café in downtown Oakville of which he is a former owner. The decanter is evidence of his taste for whisky and love of elegant cut glass.

A published author, 3a has written fiction and non-fiction. His work as a member of the board of directors of Fanfare Theatrical Productions is founded on love of theatre and belief in supporting culture in the community. Last year this Mississauga and Oakville-based production company staged The Wizard of Oz with a wide cast that included local children.

3b 1961 bungalow
established neighbourhood
North College Park
South of Upper Middle Road, East of 6th Line

3b is in fact the "smoking room" section of 2b's basement rec room. See 2b

4a  4b

4a single detached house in area with mature trees
south west Oakville

The room shown in the photograph is where I work and exercise. I use the computer and I like the Internet, which I use for research on dog breeds, training, etc. My dog is called Clara and she's still very young. My best friend, Justine, comes over often and plays with Clara. You can see that outside this room is a big porch. I can go directly out on my wheelchair. The floor is painted because I would not be able to wheel easily on a rug. Susan gave me a camera so I could take pictures by myself.
I put Pinocchio beside my computer because he's one of my favourite characters. I've watched the movie again and again. I love how he becomes a real boy at the end.

4b detached house
West Oak Trails
new subdivision, North Oakville

After his marriage broke-up 4b recently returned to Oakville, where he spent his childhood, in order to be close to family, friends and young daughter. This single detached house in a raw new subdivision contrasts with the farm that he carefully revived through years of work on his spare time from his job as a prosecutor.

With little furniture and his belongings still in boxes the house does not yet feel like a home but a place of transition and re-organization. Having his daughter's toys in the house and a bedroom for her affords him a sense of creating a home in which they can continue to grow together.


5a  5b

5a high rise apartment
East Central
central Oakville

The room represents how my past is brought into my present through a collection of my things. I hooked the half-moon rug using a favourite coat of my mother. I took it home when she died, washed it, took it apart and used it for the patterns of the rug. I also hooked the two cushions on the settee.

The settee was made in 1840 in Quebec. It was one of the first ones made with a lathe. My family is an old Quebec family, the painting above the settee is of the ancestor's house in Old Montreal. In 1967 I commissioned the watercolour to fit the dimensions of the 1867 frame. The subject is the parish church of Beau Secours where the family would have worshipped. Now the house is used for the offices of a shipping company. My husband and I came to live in Oakville in 1973 when he, like many others at that time, was transferred out of Montréal. I liked the town immediately because lakeshore reminded me of the lakeshore of the West Island neighbourhood of of Montréal from which we moved. I raised my children here. The open book dates from 1835 and was given by my Great Great Grandfather to his wife to be used as an album. It contains comments on contemporary events as well as commercial illustrations accompanied by her poems.

I was widowed two and a half years ago. I stayed in my house and did all sorts of improvements but after two years it felt like I was rattling around in it-to big and too much upkeep. I chose to live in an apartment, a five minute walk from downtown close to Second Cup, the library and Lakeshore Road. I travel a lot, I've just come back from China and I'm off to Italy soon.

5b spacious detached house, very private
South East Oakville walking distance to Lakeshore Road

The living room is where I like to read and relax during the day. I enjoy being alone with my thoughts.

Being barefoot gives me a sense of freedom. I enjoy contact with the floor surface through my feet's sense of touch.

The colours of the pale blue in the sofa interact with the morning sun to create a harmonious and calming effect. The vibrant colours in the background painting are of spring flowers reminding me of new beginnings. The blue brings to mind sky and water shades.

My sculpture, Butterfly, is my metamorphosis. I believe in renewal.
Symbols reinforce my existence.

6a  6b

6a detached house
Q.E. Park
South West Oakville, established neighbourhood

6a is an interior designer who creates corporate office environments. He, his daughter and his wife chose this room because they spend most of their time there. This family represents a new merger (6a and wife were married on Saturday, 15 June) from previous marriages. The newly weds have many common interests and tastes that were affirmed through the process of planning the interior design of their home.

Cooking is an important part of their life and the entire family participates in meal preparation. The counter serves also as a place of homework. The backsplash tiles summarize the colours throughout the newly decorated house. The opportunity to express his personal values through his professional skills was welcomed by 6a. He notes that decisions involving the design of the office are usually made by committee and are therefore about collective rather than personal tastes. Many corporations want to "brand" their spaces to reflect the identity and culture of the organization. Now that the emphasis is on building a more casual work environment even the oasis spots for relaxation is part of the in-style business look of a successful corporation.

6b detached family house
North College Park
central Oakville, established neighbourhood

The kitchen is the heartbeat of most homes, says the father of family 6b. For them, it is a science laboratory and art studio as well as eating and cooking area. The son's volcano experiment and the daughter's artistic activities are here featured.


7a  7b

7a single detached house
West Oakville
central West Oakville

We (my two university-aged daughters and my boyfriend) spend most of our time in the family room. The cat is an important member of the family and also uses this room a lot. Some of the things that are important to me are in evidence here. I am a competitive paddler, some of my medals hang above the fireplace. Sometimes I'm able to combine this activity with my other passion--travelling. For example, recently I was a member of the American swan boat team (it's the Thai version of a dragon boat) that went to the world championship in Thailand.

7b older townhouse
backyard connected to lake
South West Oakville

The family room is where 7b spends most time when he's indoors. He has been retired for nine years having been a Staff Inspector on the Toronto Metropolitan Police Force for 35 years. He lived in Toronto for the bulk of those years and then moved to Oakville. Since his youth in Ireland he has been an avid paddler. He owns three 26 foot Norse canoes and lends them out for charity fundraising events such as the Corrymeela Community Charity, an organization that raises money for the peace movement in Ireland. Over the cabinet is a canoeing scene from Algonquin Park where he goes to canoe every year. The paddle was carved out of cherry wood. He takes pleasure in the beauty of the wood and the line of the paddle. The paddle bears his logo--a leprechaun holding a Canadian flag. Other woodcarvings are seen on top of the cabinet. The TV monitor displays a Norse canoe at one of the charity races.

The ballet shoes on the top of the cabinet are a symbol of his wife's love of dance. She taught dance for many years in the community and now instructs a group of women ranging from 20 years to seniors. This group entertains the elderly and disabled with performances of a range of dance styles including jazz, Irish waltzes and tap.

7b and his wife have two adult children. The younger is a poet who lives at home part of the time and treks to such far-off places as Iceland and Moscow in search of inspiration.
The painting on the wall commemorates a cherished dog that lived with the family for over 15 years and is buried in the backyard.

8a  8b

8a small bungalow
South Oakville

8a teaches at Sheridan College where her goal is to have students connect to art through their own creativity. An accomplished quilt-maker, she has set aside this small room for sewing. Above the sewing machine hangs her first sampler while the work in progress is to be submitted this fall to the local Fibre Arts Festival.

On the close-up view of the room the viewer can read the titles on the spines of her books. She has always loved and collected books, both literature (studied in university) and non-fiction. The books display an interest in animal breeds.

The creature on the cat tree is her constant companions and one of eight pets. The breed of her four cats has been carefully chosen for compatibility with the species of dog. Although living in harmony with the rest of the menagerie, the two parrots are adept at barking as well as imitating her commands.

As a child, she had not been allowed to keep pets. On turning 40 years old in an apartment where she had begun to accumulate animal companions she set out to find a house with room for all. In this area of town, north of the Queen Elizabeth Way, people often keep their shutters closed, there are no vistas. Her home is luckily situated such that the inter-species household can look out to a lush ravine and mature trees.

8b bungalow
mature neighbourhood
South West Oakville

This room is where the two dogs and me hang out. The story of my life with these two goes like this: originally we went "only to look" at the pups. My former partner and I each chose one from the same litter. They are part Labrador, German Shepherd and wolf. They had been abused and as a result they each have fears of their own. One loves people but is afraid of new situations while the other is shy of people but loves new experiences. When the one on the easy chair is frightened she "clutches" the stuffed Elmo with her teeth. This stuffed animal has lost its button eyes and is close to complete deterioration. Both dogs are afraid of balloons, particularly the way in that they "quiver" in the drafts of air. The balloon is laid on the couch in order to keep the dogs off it.

The chair that is partially painted represents my resurrecting old skills. My background is in Fine Arts but I make my living as a massage therapist. I have been doing this for a number of years, first as part of other's business; when I had my own clientele I operated out of my house.

My neighbourhood is very quiet and settled, a very calm place with lots of room for the dogs to run in. I have good neighbours, very laid back. When my clients pull-up at the door they remark on how quiet it is, probably comparing it the newer areas of town such as Glen Abbey where I used to work.

The books in the foreground, one on running and the other on a particular artist reflect what I really enjoy. I used to play varsity-level field hockey and have recently begun to workout seriously again with a view to running in a marathon in the near future. The picture on the wall was a retirement present from the technical crew of which I was a member for a number of years at the McMichael Canadian Collection. It's a collage that contains symbols of my experience there and has great personal value.