The Toronto Queen Anne Revival house I lived in

Published March 1, 2012 by housecrazy

When I went to graduate school in Toronto Ontario, I had the opportunity to live on the top two floors of this historic home in the prestigious and funky Beaches neighborhood.

Unfortunately, it was about the worst two years I have ever spent anywhere in my life.

But it was a neat house and I was lucky that my aunt and I were able to rent it for a short period of time.

Here’s what the exterior looked like when I lived there about a decade ago:

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

And here is what it looks like now:

Very similar on the exterior. My bedroom was the west facing room with the Palladian windows on the right (above). On the left side of the house, you can see a brick structure that appears as if it is crowding into the house’s personal space. The brick storefront has been there for many decades and is actually deemed part of the historic structure. So it is like the house’s parasitic twin.

This is a historic photo of the “John Wright House” (c. 1903) before the brick storefront was added in 1925:

image from:

It was built in the Queen Anne Revival style as a vacation home for a wealthy Toronto family. Since it is located on the corner of Waverly Road and Queen Street – the main commercial drag through the Beaches neighborhood – a brick storefront was later added on the Queen Street side to house a business.

Here’s a page out of a Toronto neighborhood guide that my aunt found while we lived there:

image from: Beaches architecture book by Herta Ziemann

It was Mr. Submarine when I lived there (I think it still is), but the storefront started out in life in the 1920’s as the “Heywood Florists”. My aunt and I ate subs constantly because it was just so convenient to jaunt downstairs/next door for a sandwich.

image from:

Below is a view from Waverly Road of the house – you can see the attached brick storefront. There was no internal doorway to get from the house into the storefront (although, we did sometimes crawl out of the upper floor windows and onto the storefront roof to watch parades and such).

The main part of the house was divided into two very separate spaces: on the ground floor was a landscaping and gardening boutique (our less-than-friendly landlords) and the second and third floors were a rental unit with a separate outside entrance. We had to come and go through the back yard of the garden shop and it was visually pleasant, but emotionally tense since we did not (at all) get along with our er, unpleasant landlords.

At present time, the house has been thoroughly gutted and reincarnated once again into an upscale restaurant called Amuse Bistro.

I was able to find some pictures online of the gut-job and subsequent renovation. I also was able to read in detail about the horrible luck the restaurant owner has been having with that building. (Maybe there’s a hex on the house!)

This is what the main floor looks like today:

image from:

And here is what it looked like when it was being renovated “down to the studs”:

The interior is unrecognizable from when I lived there and the first floor was a garden store. It looks so much bigger in the restaurant photos than I remember it. The staircase that you can see (above) had been drywalled off at the top right before we moved in so that customers of the garden store wouldn’t be walking upstairs into our apartment.

Have a look at some old photos I dug up from around the year 2000 when my aunt and I were tenants. This is the back staircase where we came and went into our apartment off of the side street:

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

This was the courtyard in the back yard that our landlords used as part of their gardening business:

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

Here is the view from the balcony where we entered the upper floor apartment:

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

Just one block south of us was Lake Ontario and beautiful Kew Beach (giving the neighborhood “The Beaches” name)

From the back deck you walked right into a tiny kitchen:

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

Through the kitchen was the upstairs hallway:

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

Off of that was a small bathroom:

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

My former bedroom with the west facing Palladian windows:

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

(That’s my aunt’s sassy cat Trixie curled up on my bed).

The living room:

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

The upper floor had great light – as you can tell from our abundance of house plants.

Another bedroom (that we had rented out to an exchange student in order to be able to afford the exorbitant rent):

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

And up the attic staircase was my aunt’s room with dormer windows:

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

My aunt did the decorating since it was mostly her furniture. She even found or made all the lace window coverings because there were none when we moved in.

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

It is a wonderful old house that has been repurposed time and time again.

Though my time in Toronto was dreadfully stressful (full-time grad student working two jobs struggling to make ends meet and keep my sanity), I enjoyed living in such a historically and architecturally significant house. I’m glad to see that it lives on today as a restaurant.

"Roast mushrooms on puff pastry prepared by chef Pat Riley at Amuse Bistro" image from:


(Forget Mr. Sub – if that fancy bistro was there when I lived upstairs, I probably would have taken out another student loan to taste their food!)


3 comments on “The Toronto Queen Anne Revival house I lived in

  • Hi Sarah, I cannot believe how much they ‘bastardized’ that beautiful house when they added on the now historical storefront addition!!! Things like that should be against the law…. The restaurant looks beautiful in there now….wonder what they are doing with the upper floors?

    • Yes, lots of that “bastardization” went on the the Beaches ‘hood. But since the brick storefront addition is old (1920’s) and architecturally significant, it is now actually protected by the city of Toronto and can’t be altered on the exterior.

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