by Marie Wilson

Portals of Home and Hearth

The mail slots in these old wooden doors have a rather quaint word printed on them, bringing to mind quill pens & foolscap or at least ballpoint pens & onionskin paper. These doors hark back to a time when this housing complex in Toronto, now known as the Bain Co-op, was called Riverdale Courts. Multiple layers of paint applied over the years hide the original wood finish of the doors, and many of the old mail slots are no longer used.

The doors in the co-op are as varied as the occupants who live here, of which I am one.

Welcome to 10 The Aberdeens…bring your dog for a visit…

“Cead Mile Failte” translated means: “A hundred thousand welcomes” at 5 The Cedars.

The address tiles below were made by former co-op member and potter extraordinaire Karen Franzen. They read: “One The Aberdeens – Downstairs” and “Two The Aberdeens – Upstairs”. Our address system confounds almost everyone, from pizza delivery guys to the police, but there is a method to the madness.

Each courtyard is named for a kind of tree and those tree names are part of our address system. There’s The Elms, The Pines, The Lindens, The Oaks, The Maples and The Cedars.

But what about The Aberdeens? They sound like trees but aren’t. Rather, this part of the co-op was named for Lady Aberdeen, who was married to Lord Aberdeen, the Governor General of Canada from 1893-98. In Canada Lady Aberdeen fought for women’s rights and founded the National Council of Women. She also helped establish the Victorian Order of Nurses. Many places and structures in Canada are named in her honour; a section of our co-op is but one.

There are two hundred and fifty-six units in the entire co-op and many, but not all, have back doors or balcony doors. So many doors! And only seven of them are naked, as in striped of their layers of paint, taken back to their original wood finish. These doors are beautiful.

Not so beautiful are the new fire doors. They are regulation portals, a tad institutional and lacking in character. You’re not allowed to tamper with them but they’re metallic so you can stick interesting magnetic stuff on them!

The Bain Co-op is located in Riverdale, between Withrow Park and Riverdale Park. Its early 20th century Arts and Crafts style buildings sit on five acres of land replete with vegetable and flower gardens and trees, some of which lend their names to our addresses.

10 thoughts on “Portals of Home and Hearth

  1. Sue Middleton

    LOVE the old letter boxes in the doors. Even though I will sound like my Gran….here goes…..times seemed so much gentler when I was a child, I remember the excitement of birthday cards arriving and letters, love to write letters. Thanks Marie for the reminder. XXX

  2. Vivien Stollmeyer

    Now I know they’re magnetic (the fire doors) and I can put stuff on them, I am really happy!
    Shall start collecting magnets.

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