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The Informer

Real Estate

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Condo of the Week: $850,000 to live in a former brewery in Corktown

toronto-condo-of-the-week-31-old-brewery-lane-intro

Address: 31 Old Brewery Lane
Neighbourhood: Corktown
Agent: Rob Ackerley and Barbara Renee Funt, MrLoft.ca
Price: $849,900

The Place: A light-filled laneway row house with a rooftop deck.

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The Informer

Columns

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Memoir: I went from ultra-Orthodox yeshiva boy to millionaire poker champion

ari-engel-memoir-house-of-cards

The ancient rabbis had a saying about gamblers. “What crime do dice-players commit?” they asked in the Mishnah. “They do not occupy themselves with the welfare of the world.” It was part of my education at the Orthodox Jewish theological school I attended near Chicago, where I spent 14 hours every day poring over the sacred texts. Every so often, I’d encounter yet another screed against gambling: that it was akin to robbery, that it was a form of usury, and that people who made it their profession were disqualified as witnesses at trial.

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The Informer

Real Estate

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The Sell: a savvy couple use social media to sell their Parkdale investment property

the-sell-savvy-couple-social-media

the-sell-tyler-and-jeremyThe sellers: Jeremy Stewart, a 36-year-old designer and real estate investor, and Tyler Clark Burke, a 41-year-old artist and designer.

The place: A row house near Queen and Dufferin, divided into two units, both of which Burke and Stewart had been renting out since 2010.

The story: After bouncing between rentals for years, Burke bought the house in 2006, a year before she and Stewart started dating. When the pair decided to move in together in 2008, house prices were relatively low. Instead of selling Burke’s property, they borrowed against it to buy a larger home nearby where they could raise their kids: daughter Rooksby, who’s now 3, and son Hugo, 18 months. ­Earlier this year, with interest rates dropping and home prices soaring, they figured it was time to sell the rental property.

The prep: Aside from hanging a few mirrors, Burke, Stewart and their agent, Alice Kent of Bosley, did little staging. Instead, Burke appealed to friends on Facebook, posting a personal note about the property and expressing the hope that someone in her social network would end up buying the place.

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The Informer

Columns

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Dear Urban Diplomat: should we keep our kid away from his unvaccinated cousin?

(Image: NIAID/Flickr)

(Image: NIAID/Flickr)

Dear Urban Diplomat,

My wife’s sister is a hard-core anti-vaxxer. We’re expecting in three weeks, and we don’t want her 18-month-old petri dish of a daughter to come over once our son (yes, we found out the sex) arrives. In fact, we’re not so keen on having him play with her, ever. How should we break the news?
—Vax Populi, Riverside

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The Informer

Real Estate

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House of the Week: $1.4 million for a Corso Italia home with a long-term tenant

toronto-house-of-the-week-40-lauder-avenue-intro

Address: 40 Lauder Avenue
Neighbourhood: Corso Italia
Agent: Todd Colter, Royal LePage West Realty
Price: $1,439,000

The Place: A brick and stucco Arts and Crafts–style home just north of Davenport, near Dufferin.

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The Informer

People

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Ten things Sarah Gadon can’t live without

She’s the new face of Giorgio Armani Beauty, and her upcoming thriller, The 9th Life of Louis Drax, hits screens later this year. Here, the 10 things she can’t live without

(Image: Getty Images)

(Image: Getty Images)

1
My new Volkswagen Golf
It’s my first car, and I love it. It’s perfect for city driving and also really easy to park—which is great because I’m not the best driver.

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The Informer

Real Estate

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Cottage of the Week: $3.3 million for a Parry Sound home with a whole lot of windows

toronto-cottage-of-the-week-9-felsman-lane-intro

Address: 9 Felsman Lane
Neighbourhood: Parry Sound
Agent: Judy Parks, Paul Heenan and Linda Heenan, Royal Lepage Lakes of Muskoka; and Mike Timmins, Royal LePage Team Advantage Realty, Brokerage
Price: $3,295,000

The Place: A sprawling, 5,700-square-foot cottage with a guest bunkie, located on the shores of Georgian Bay.

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The Informer

Culture

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Toronto has a new city museum, or should we say “Myseum”

(MyseumofToronto.com/Screenshot)

(MyseumofToronto.com/Screenshot)

The path to a genuine, city-focused museum for Toronto has been a difficult one, littered with hopeful editorials and wild schemes. The big problem is that nobody can afford to build the thing, but today a group of would-be museum administrators announced their proposed solution: just go ahead and start the museum with no building at all. Myseum of Toronto launched itself with a press conference this morning. Its organizers are billing it as a sort of mobile museum that will exist online and, starting in June, at pop-up events around the city. In late June, for example, the organizers say the Myseum will roam the city, collecting stories and artifacts from Torontonians.

The non-profit’s board includes former mayor David Crombie, a well-known heritage buff. The executive director is Karen Carter, the former head of Heritage Toronto, and the project’s lead sponsor is Diane Blake, who—with her husband, the financier Stephen Smith—has quietly been pumping money and energy into the effort to bring about an actual, physical city museum for Toronto.

The Informer

Best Bets

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Play pinball, drink beer for charity and eight other things to do this week

(Images, clockwise from top left: still from Delicatessen, courtesy of the TIFF Film Reference Library; David Sedaris, by Anne Fishbein; Untitled, by Frank Johnston, courtesy of the Huronia Museum; Iris Apfel)

(Images, clockwise from top left: still from Delicatessen, courtesy of the TIFF Film Reference Library; David Sedaris, by Anne Fishbein; Untitled, by Frank Johnston, courtesy of the Huronia Museum; Iris Apfel)

Dive into Iris Apfel’s closet
Iris Apfel is a 94-year-old fashion starlet, with a flash of dove-white hair, scarlet lipstick and harlequin outfits cobbled together from haute couture and flea market finds. Her Park Avenue closet was dazzling enough to merit its own costume exhibit at the Met in 2006. And now she’s the subject of Iris, an affectionate, stylish new documentary from Grey Gardens maestro Albert Maysles, who died last year. It’s best watched through Frisbee-size glasses. Friday May 15 to Sunday May 31. $12. 506 Bloor St. W., 416-637-3123, bloorcinema.com.

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The Informer

People

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Q&A: Joe Pennachetti, the bureaucrat who kept the city running under Rob Ford

(Image: Claire Foster)

(Image: Claire Foster)

During Rob Ford’s four years as mayor, there were times when city hall seemed like a never-ending, all-out brawl. Even when things were at their worst, though, there was one person who usually managed to stay above the fray: Joe Pennachetti, Toronto’s city manager and top bureaucrat. He was responsible for keeping the city’s public service—all the non-political employees whose jobs the Ford administration was constantly threatening to eliminate—on-task and motivated throughout a chaotic and difficult period of time. Surprisingly, he was able to do this while still commanding near-universal respect from his political masters, both left- and right-leaning. Pennachetti retired on Friday after nearly seven years on the job (he was appointed under David Miller’s administration, in 2008). Before he went, we spoke to him about how and why he kept calm during all the craziness.

I hear you have an identical twin brother…
Fraternal.

Oh, I thought he was identical.
No. I mean, we look more than just fraternal. With fraternal you can often tell quickly. Now, with age and my pudginess, it’s a little easier.

So you couldn’t just slide him into a council meeting and have him take heat in your place…
I can tell a story, and I’m sure mayor Mel [Lastman] wouldn’t mind. Mayor Mel met my brother in a local arena, and of course he thought it was me. It happens a lot. Mayor Mel, he came to me and he said, “I met your brother. I think we should pull one over on council.” I said, “Mr. Mayor, I hear you, but I don’t think my brother would be into it, and I’m just glad you met him,” and blah, blah, blah.

In my research, I was only able to find one prior instance of you sitting down for an interview about yourself. Why don’t you like to talk about yourself in public?
I do not see it as the role of the city manager to be out there with strong opinions, one way or the other. The role of the city manager is to run the day-to-day operations. That’s paramount.

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The Informer

Real Estate

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Sale of the Week: the $1.2-million Niagara townhouse that shows how design can trump spaciousness

855-richmond-street-west-intro

Address: 855 Richmond Street West
Neighbourhood: Niagara
Agent: Barbara Best, Keller Williams Advantage Realty, Brokerage

The Property: This Niagara townhome and its neighbours stand out on their block, thanks to their modern design, industrial accents and floor-to-ceiling windows. This particular house, an end unit, one-ups the rest of the row with additional windows along its outer wall. A deck and rooftop lounge offer sunny spots for day drinking, should nearby Trinity-Bellwoods Park prove too packed.

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The Informer

Real Estate

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Condo of the Week: $1.2 million to live in Robertson Davies’ old pad in Summerhill

toronto-condo-of-the-week-40-oaklands-avenue-intro

Address: 40 Oaklands Avenue, Unit 303
Neighbourhood: Summerhill
Agent: Kara Reed, Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd.
Price: $1,225,000

The Place: A three-bedroom home spread across two floors of a feted modernist building.

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The Informer

Politics

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Rob Ford is just “sick” about kids being taught sex ed by teachers, rather than mayors

now-what-newIn a YouTube interview with former Sun News personality Ezra Levant, Rob Ford offered some thoughts on Ontario’s controversial new sex education curriculum. “My [kid] in grade two, and my other one in grade four should not be talking about what anal sex is, or what a blowjob is,” said the guy who once publicly bragged about the sheer quantity of oral sex he has with his wife. “This is what they’re teaching these kids. I’m sorry, that makes me sick. I told my kids, if they start talking like that, walk out. You know what? It’s for the parents to teach them about that at the appropriate time.” This much is true: if the younger Fords need someone to educate them about the seamier side of adult life, their dad is qualified for that job.

The Informer

People

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Bottle service, infinity pools and big-ticket gifts: a who’s who of Toronto’s richest kids on Instagram

rich-kids-of-instagram-intro-4

In most respects, the ultra-rich live by different rules—but they use the same internet as the rest of us. Just like everyone else in their age group, the teenage and twenty-something children of Toronto’s business elite have taken to social media in general, and the photo-sharing site Instagram in particular. Browsing their public accounts is like peering through a mansion keyhole into a kind of life most of us know little about and will never lead. If your friends’ perfectly curated Facebook and Instagram pages make you want to crawl into your closet with a bottle of gin, avert your eyes. These are our very own rich kids of Instagram—the progeny of wealthy Toronto families—and their feeds are a jaw-dropping, envy-inducing cross between Vogue, Condé Nast Traveller and Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

Tessa Thomson, 21

Lineage: Daughter of David Thomson, chair of Thomson Reuters (and Canada’s richest human), and his first wife Mary Lou La Prairie
Home Base: South Beach, Miami
Occupation: Student at University of Miami
Followers: 2,056
Instagram Handle: tessathomson

Truffle popcorn fiends @madison_roehrig #Hotel #LoveYou #Bff #Miami #Babe A photo posted by Tessa Thomson (@tessathomson) on

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The Informer

Columns

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Dear Urban Diplomat: can I get my money back if my LCBO bag broke along with my booze?

(Image: smkybear/Flickr)

(Image: smkybear/Flickr)

Dear Urban Diplomat,

I paid for a couple of large bottles of booze at the LCBO, grabbed the paper bag, and made it as far as the parking lot before the bag broke. Both bottles smashed, and I’m out a hundred bucks. I told the clerk it was the bag’s fault, but he refused to pay up. I want my money back, since I did nothing wrong. Any ideas?
—Can’t Hold My Liquor, Little Portugal

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