‘In Praise of Great Teachers!’

This article is about great teachers and the inspiration they are! In April, I received a very exciting email - my grade 12 Environmental Planning teacher, Angelo Delfino contacted me after 43 years. He had been going through his files and came across a project I had done in 1974 on the ‘Revitalization of the Port Credit Waterfront’ (A+ FYI). He wanted to know if I would like it back… and we met for lunch. At Port Credit Secondary School, what I learned from Mr. Delfino has carried me through my entire career. He taught us to observe our surroundings and to be creative about solutions to problems. We learned how to communicate our ideas through drafting - yes, ‘old-school’ drafting of site plans, building plans & elevations. That skill, or more correctly, that ‘art’ has been an invaluable tool for me.

Great teachers go above and beyond to inspire young people. Mr. Delfino organized and secured funding through the Opportunities for Youth program in the summer of 1972 for 10 students (I was asked to be one of them) to catalogue, research, sketch, measure and produce architectural drawings of historic buildings in Mississauga. That exposure was the start of my lifelong appreciation of older structures. He organized March Break trips to Italy where many of us, for the first time in our lives, got to experience life outside Canada and appreciate Europe’s rich history, ancient structures, classic art and culture.

I am so grateful for teachers like Mr. Delfino for inspiring me!


Be Prepared: Approvals Take Time!

When planning for a new home or modifying an existing home by adding or renovating, my advice is always to research every applicable regulation prior to the start of any design work. I use the analogy of ‘knowing where the goalposts are’. By performing this due diligence prior to purchasing a property or undertaking design, the development will proceed more efficiently.

As a start (and this list is not complete) the research should include the following:

1. Survey - if you weren’t given a survey of your property as part of the purchase, look up to see if a survey is available for your property. If not, contract with a local OLS (Ontario Land Surveyor) to prepare one.

2. Zoning - to determine permitted uses, setbacks, floor areas, lot coverage, overall height restrictions. Request a report of a Zoning Search through your local municipality.

3. Conservation – if the property is regulated by a Conservation Authority, apply for a Property Information Request. They will provide a letter and mapping of the areas regulated and how this can affect the development of your property.

4. Site Plan, Heritage, Oak Ridges Moraine, Architectural Control – many residential developments now must proceed through a Site Plan Approval process first, before making a Building Permit application. This can involve multiple levels of review. Many municipalities have this information available online.

Prepare to budget for consultants to develop the documents required and for the length of time it will take for all the approvals.

A question I often get asked is, “How do people find out about you?” Often it’s through referral, my website, or, but most often it is through builders. Over 30 years I have worked with a lot of contractors and trades so when a builder asks me to work on his own home, I count it a privilege. Rob Reith of Reith Custom Building asked me to help with his plans to renovate and add to his older home in Cookstown.

LIFE ~ ‘In Historic Cookstown’

Let’s take a Summer Road Trip to Cookstown, Ontario. In 2011, when I started working with Rob on his home, a large part of our initial discussion involved preserving the charm & character of the old home. At that time, Cookstown was in the initial phases of designating the Cookstown Heritage Conservation District, which was finalized in 2016. Rob’s home falls within the Conservation District and we agreed that his renovated home could contribute to the aesthetic of the historic neighbourhood. After documenting the existing structure, researching the zoning requirements, and reviewing Rob’s requirements, design work began on additions to the side and rear of the home and architectural drawings were prepared for permits.

Holly and Henry project managed their build with these trades and suppliers:

1. Architectural Design: Jane Cameron, Life Home Design
2. Structural Engineering: Quaile Engineering
3. Owner & Builder: Rob Reith
4. Photos (after shots): Cassidy Lemoine
5. Lumber supply: H.F. Smith Home Hardware Building Centre (705) 458-4462
6. Windows: Supplied by Windows First
7. Siding: Royal Wood Shop
8. Garage Doors: Canador Door Systems

Quinoa Salad with Cranberries and Almonds

We’ve all heard about Quinoa being touted as a superfood and rightly so. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free and contains iron, B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, vitamin E, and fiber. It is one of only a few plant foods that are considered a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids.

I’ve done some experimenting with different recipes and came across this one online. With a few modifications, it’s just the way I like it. Cilantro is one of those herbs that either you love or hate- I substitute parsley for the cilantro because it’s not a favourite with everyone in our family. The toasted almonds are a real treat in this salad!

The dressing is simply lime juice- very refreshing! It’s easy and relatively quick to prepare & it’s colourful on the plate. I make up a double batch and it keeps for many days in the fridge. For an easy lunch or a tasty addition to a summer dinner, I hope you enjoy it like we do!

1 3/4 c. water
1 c. uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1/4 c. red bell pepper. chopped
1/4 c. yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. curry powder
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley)
2 limes, juiced
1/4 c. toasted sliced almonds
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. minced carrots
3/4 tsp salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

1. Pour the water into a saucepan and cover with a lid. Bring to boil over high heat, then pour in the quinoa, recover and continue to simmer over low heat until the water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Scrape into a mixing bowl, and chill in the refrigerator until cold.
2. Once cold, add all the other ingredients, season to taste with salt & pepper. Chill before serving

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