During these July holidays the national themes rise, shout, sing and pop. Somewhere between the daytime sounds of marching bands and booming jets and the nighttime crack of fireworks and creaky ferris wheels, is sandwiched the ‘why’. As in ‘why we are here’. I would say to witness and celebrate our inherited belief in the promise of North America. That we all get a fair shake. That our kids, if we want to have children, can learn in good schools, play on safe streets, run through backyard barbeques, even fall into the pool. Lucky? No doubt about it.
In Toronto, the average price of a detached, single family home crested over a cool million bucks a few years ago and never looked back. Living the dream isn’t cheap. I can’t help it. I’m cynical. It’s just too much money.
I remember when a sales person walked into my studio, some years back and asked, ‘Hey, do you want a real estate client?’ It was still early days for me. I jumped. Coming from Montreal, where there was no real estate, no growth, quite the opposite, I thought ‘what new playground is this?’ Over the next 10 years or so I did logos, signs, sales centres, newpaper ads… opening I would say about 35 new home communities around Toronto. I say ‘around’ because the dream of living the life – we thought we so richly deserved – lay out in the suburbs. Toronto itself was already way beyond the reach the average couple with two kids, two jobs… well, we all know that tune. It led the march to the suburbs.
So I sold Canadiana to Canadians. No, really. The empty tracts of mud and mowed down trees filled with families. We weren’t selling ‘Anne of Green Gables’, no. But almost. We were selling ‘Leave It to Beaver’. Even ‘Brady Bunch’. American shows, but workable and well watched here in the north. These people wanted a piece of Canada. The pieces of land they bought now go for double, no triple what they were sold for. Investment was a prime mover. ‘You’ll never see prices like these again,” we were told. And we haven’t.
I have to admit, selling little Anne got me into some really cute stuff. Cute sells. It’s a fact of nature. I mean it’s a facet of nature, a universal truth that nature uses to make us fall in love with the glossy, widely spaced eyes of our kids. We spend a lot of money to secure their futures. So I did logos that featured winged angels, ducks with waving scarves, swans a’swimming… the kind of sweet stuff you might see on heritage tea labels or antique greeting cards. We weren’t the only ones. Decorators of the day papered rooms with tiny florals and lace, sprayed wreaths (I remember so fakey), and mounted romance-issued plates on walls. We did teal and frosted peach. It was beautiful.
If you keep up with my 31 logos this month, you’ll see a few new home communities. If I didn’t believe in the country. If I didn’t believe in the deal, I wouldn’t have been able to put so much heart into the effort. I did hundreds of ads. The public understood exactly what they were buying. The images of Canada, and the family focused lifestyle they brought to mind, helped sell a helluva lotta houses. Toronto now stretches for about 60 miles in every direction from downtown centre Front and Yonge. From Coburg to Cambridge, and in nearly every town between, we sold the dream.
About 60 kms. up, well north, lies Newmarket, home of the now defunct Glenway Golf Club. Some of these homes are now worth close to a million, even though the golfing has disappeared. The land is worth too much to golf on, I guess. This Glenway Golf Community logo helped my terrific client Geranium Homes win the grand award from the Toronto Home Builders Association. I was thrilled to be part of it. And thrilled to be a part of a big town getting bigger. I love doing real estate. Always have. As you might guess, I get a kick out of it.