Each city‘s heartbeat is defined by its architecture, landscape, art, culture and people. A moment captured can depict its uniqueness. ‘Toronto Uncovered’ is a story about my newly discovered love for architecture and building, as it became a metaphor for life, healing and growth.
As I look around our sprawling city of Toronto, I see demolition everywhere, entire neighbourhoods being transformed before our very eyes. A clearing out of the old, making space for growth, renewal and revitalization. Our little city is becoming a mega metropolis. People are being asked to leave their homes and start over. What it takes for growth to occur is frightening. It’s a letting go process, a sense of free falling, stepping forward into the unknown. We either become part of the change, or we don’t. The choice is ours.
I believe the process is the same for people. In order for each of us to grow and change, we need to take a good hard look in the mirror, and let go of what doesn’t seem to work in our lives anymore from relationships, to jobs, health and lifestyle. Each of us needs to be brave enough to step into the darkness, and face our demons. We need to break down our walls, and expose ourselves to our own truths and vulnerabilities. I believe that is where our true strength comes from, and the pathway to finding our soft heart. It is from that place, our core, that we can rebuild our foundation. Similar to building a house, if you build on a weak foundation, you are always going to have to face one disaster after another, until it slowly falls apart.
In the mid 90’s, I was dealing with a devastating heartbreak. I was a single mom with two beautiful young children looking to begin again. I had dreamt of us all building a small home together in a remote part of northern Ontario, and realized that the dream I thought was ours, was actually mine and I needed to move forward on my own and make it happen. I needed to heal my heart and put my life back together.
I put all my heartache into my photography, worked as hard as I could and saved and saved. That spring, I was led to a beautiful eighteen acre wooded property on a small unpopulated lake up north in Ontario. As I drove down the 900’ windy driveway, I knew I was home. I stood at the property’s edge looking at the lake, listened to the trees talk to each other, and realized this property and this project will heal me. I used every last cent I had (and then some), to purchase it. I miraculously secured a building loan from a bank and so it began. I leapt into the abyss with my eyes closed. I designed a modest house on a scrap of paper and asked a designer friend to draw up some plans. I then found a brilliant local builder who was willing to take on my small, unconventional project. We began to work together to make my dream become a reality. It was a creative collaborative endeavour that needed to stick to very strict budget.
We began by dismantling the original structure standing on the property when I bought it, consisting of a plethora of 40’ long pine logs. Each log was milled and reused. I discovered that all of those pine logs were cut down from the property many years before. We used the wood to create the framework and detailing for my new home. As construction progressed, I began to feel as though I was rebuilding myself from the inside out. It was an incredible healing process. It was one of the biggest risks I had ever taken and one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had. I tapped into a creative flow I didn’t know was there. I knew absolutely nothing about building a house when I began, and had no money to build it.
Upon completion, I was amazed at what we had accomplished together. I took a huge risk and to my surprise, my heart too had healed in the process. I had put my life back together and had been gifted with a new love for architecture and building.
This process became a metaphor for life, loving and healing, beginning anew. It’s always best to become part of the change.