Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Sylvan Apartments

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There's a very old and beautiful apartment block in my neighbourhood that's been boarded up for years, and I've always been curious about it. Called The Sylvan Apartments, it's an L-shaped brick low-rise on Havelock Street in the College and Dufferin neighbourhood. It has pillared verandas and acanthus leaves carved into the plaster trim near the roof, and in the backyard are climbing pink roses. I love this place. It reminds me of a city residence for the ladies of the film Grey Gardens.

From what I've read online, a development company wants to demolish the apartments to make way for a 40-odd unit condo. But the apartment has been deemed a place of heritage interest by the city, so, since 2005, nothing's been allowed to go forward. You can look at some pictures of the building here, on the Fieldguided blog.

While online, I also came across a beautiful poem written by a Toronto writer named John Skaife. The poem, called Miss Hutson, seems to enigmatically, and personally, capture the time and place that was The Sylvan Apartments. I've included the poem below.

If you know anything about the apartments, or someone who once lived in them, please let me know.

Listening: Chris Bell, I Am the Cosmos
Reading (and loving): Heaven is Small by Emily Schultz

By John Skaife

was the daughter of the man who owned this estate, the Havelock-Sylvan apartments.

lived here until her death.

was cared for by her niece.

said to Mary once, "Are you going into town for business?"

had advanced diabetes, was an invalid, never left her apartment,

watched the TV and was horrified by how thing had changed since the 1970s

had lovely china, lovely tea

said, "Oh, I like that name. John. Such a strong, masculine name."

would give us anything, never raised the rent,

died with our rent at under four hundred dollars

is there with the angels.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Lauren Kirshner

Lauren Kirshner is the author of the novel Where We Have to Go (McClelland & Stewart, 2009). Her short stories, arts reviews, interviews and poetry have appeared in newspapers and literary journals such as The Toronto Star, Now, The Hart House Review and Exile.

Go to Lauren Kirshner’s Author Page