The Forest Hill Experience

Well….I was going to write a post about how incredible Forest Hill is and explain why the area is so expensive.

I was going to show off photos I took of gorgeous houses and draw attention to the quality and curb appeal.

But when the police officer pulled me over, I knew the story would end up dramatically different…

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I look like a very, very suspicious individual.

Some might even say that I look downright criminal!

In fact, when I drive my shiny new car while wearing a suit, I’m surprised people aren’t ducking for cover…

Yesterday, I decided to write a blog feature on Forest Hill.  The name “Forest Hill” alone conjures up images of mansions, estates, and gated castle-like homes.  It’s not Rosedale, and it’s not The Bridle Path; it’s Forest Hill, and it is unique in it’s own way.

It’s also very exclusive, which is something I found out the hard way when I decided to drive up and down Russell Hill Road, Dunvegan, Warren, Lonsdale, et al taking photos of houses I thought would make for good fodder on my blog.

I turned west off Yonge Street onto Heath and took this photo:

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These gorgeous brownstones (or these 2-bedroom townhouses if your glass is half empty) sold for over $3,000,000 each back in 2007.  They are steps from Yonge Street and the posh Yonge/St.Clair strip.  I remember going to “The Hollywood” and “The Hyland” movie theatres here as a kid before this area was home to $4M townhomes…

But that area still isn’t Forest Hill.

You’ve got to continue west along Heath and pass Avenue Road to get into the heart of Forest Hill.

Once inside, you know you’re in the presence of greatness.

I mean, only somebody that is great – better than all of us “little people” would call the police when they see an honest, hard-working, real estate agent driving up and down the streets in his lousy, cheap Lexus while wearing a less-than-Armani suit and ten-dollar sunglasses…

Yeah, really.

I spent the better part of an hour driving up and down the streets, snapping off photos from my drivers-seat, and for some reason I got the eerie feeling that I was being watched.

In fact, I knew I was being watched.

By who, you ask?

EVERYBODY!

Every single resident of Forest Hill – the dog-walkers, joggers, Rolls-Royce-drivers, grocery-unloaders, and LuLu-Lemon wearers were all watching me with a suspicious eye.

Clearly, I didn’t belong, and it was somehow quite obvious.

As I sat parked on the side of Russell Hill Road, a lady got out of her Jaguar and began to walk towards me.  As soon as I smiled, she started to back off.  She scurried back to her car but continued to watch me.

A half hour later, I saw a police car in my rear view mirror.  He buzzed his siren, and I pulled over.

With nothing to hide, I got out of my car.  Apparently, you’re not supposed to do that…

With one hand on his hip (ie. gun), he put his other hand out in a “stop” motion and said, “Please stay there, sir.”

He then said, “Can I help you, sir?”

I replied, “Well…..you pulled me over, right?”

He asked, “What are you doing here, sir?”

I told him, “I’m driving through the neighborhood.”

I had my suspicions about why he pulled me over, but I wanted to hear it right from his mouth.

“Sir, are you passing through here?  Or do you have business here?”

So finally I asked him, “Why, did somebody suggest that I didn’t have business here?  Did somebody find fault with me being on this street or in this neighborhood?”

He robotically replied, “I’m not at liberty to say.”

So I told him that I was a real estate agent, and that I was taking photos of houses for my blog.  I wasn’t breaking any rules, and there was nothing wrong with my being there.

And that’s when he said, “Well somebody doesn’t feel that way.”

Caught in his own web, I said, “Oh, I see.  So somebody called the cops on me because I’m driving up the street?”

He reiterated, “I’m not at liberty to say.”  He then added, “I’d really appreciate it if you could just move along here and finish your business.”

So with nothing to hide, and having done nothing wrong, I took a stance: “Sir, I respect that you’re doing your job, but right now in another part of the city, an old lady is being murdered because some a**hole who lives in Forest Hill called the cops on me and you showed up to investigate instead of doing real police work.  I have done nothing wrong, and I pay taxes to this city to use these streets and drive my car on them as I see fit.  The moment I start playing cub-scout-leader to twelve-year-old boys on Dunvegan Ave, you can come and arrest me.  But until then, I’m not leaving.”

And with that said, the cop did something I NEVER expected…..he apologized!  He said he was just doing his job, and once again said, “I’d appreciate it if you could finish your business here, sir, and move along.”

Then he got in his car, and drove off.

What a joke.

I’m sorry, I know that Forest Hill is an exclusive area, and that people move there because they value their privacy, status, and safety.  But I wasn’t selling crack to school-girls, and I wasn’t running over cute puppies with my car.

It very much reminds me of a similar incident I described in a blog post here.  But I’ll just leave it at that…

So, I’m a bit sour on the neighborhood, but here are some of the pics I took before I packed it in and went home…

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This is my favorite house in the area, and I can’t really pin-point why.  It looks like a castle from the south side, and the landscaping is incredible.  It’s not huge (by Forest Hill standards) and it’s very private for a corner lot.

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Next door, somebody has completely demolished a house to build from scratch.  People are paying $2 Million just for the land value, and then spending $3M to build their dream home.  Are we in a recession?  Really?

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Here’s a new house that is nearing completion.  It’s kind of bland, in my opinion.  How about painting all the shutters and window sills black?

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When you have a hedge that thick, and that tall, you can use the word “estate” to describe your property….

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I like this house because it’s somewhat “modest” by Forest Hill standards.  There are no gates or fences, and it’s not gawdy like many new houses are.

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Here is a typical “estate” in old Forest Hill.  This property is over an acre and the house is over one-hundred years old.

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Finally, what a gorgeous red-brick Georgian with a mansard roof!  But…..isn’t that fire hydrant an eye sore?  Can’t we move it?  Get rid of it?  Or would that be like all the rich people on the Titanic who complained about the presence of life-boats on an unsinkable ship?

Well, it was an interesting tour of Forest Hill, to say the least.

If I were to tour The Bridle Path tomorrow, I’m sure the residents would call in the army

12 Comments

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  1. Dee says:

    Can you please tell me what street the first house pictured is on?
    Very entertaining and interesting blog!
    Thanks,
    DeeAnn

  2. Krupo says:

    I’m now tempted to take my Pentax for a trip around the Hills

  3. dave says:

    Damir, apologies, in hindsight my reponse was probably even less funny.

  4. Damir says:

    haha, always great to catch some laughs at a friend’s expense

  5. Josh G says:

    My girlfriend’s father lives in Forest Hill. Single dude in his 50’s has a 6000 square foot house and four cars in his four car garage. No doubt he earned it but it’s a bit overkill.

  6. David Fleming says:

    Now, now…behave, gentlemen…

  7. dave says:

    Damir,

    Hahahahahahhaha…OMG….hahahahahahahahahaha….
    wait, wait, let me catch my breath…
    hahahahahahahahahahahahha…wow that was SO funny.

  8. Damir says:

    The cop shoulda arrested you, then you’ll be able to get some clients from the ‘buddies’ you make in prison 🙂

  9. PI says:

    I recently bought a house in the Beach. One thing that attracted me to The Beach was the fact that people who live there are so down-to-earth…even the super-rich ones. Last year I was walking down Balsam south of Queen in my $50 gap jeans, $25 gap t-shirt and 10 year old Nike running shoes. I stopped and admired a particular house on the street. The house was spectacular- it was on a 50 ft lot and had amazing landscaping. The owners bought the next lot beside them (also a 50 ft lot) and tore it down to create a garden. They also own the next property and use it for a guest house (on a 40 ft. lot.) All the properties, I estimate are worth about $6 million in total.

    As I stood there admiring the house, the owner who was standing in the driveway proceeded to say hello and introduce herself. She asked if I was looking to buy in the Beach and I nodded enthusiastically. She then proceeded to talk to me for 20 minutes or so and answered all of my questions. She was so nice and friendly. You couldn’t meet a more down-to-earth person.

    I experienced this type of reaction over and over in the Beach- from people who lived in $400,000 row houses to people like I described above. The people who live there are amazingly different…and different in a good way. Here is another example: I’ve lived on the harbourfront for 11 years and have dined out countless times. In all those years, I’ve never had anyone in any one of those restaurants talk to me or say hello. About two years ago I was having lunch at Whitlocks in the Beach. As I went around picking up my food (buffett) I must have had a dozen people talk to me. Similarly, if you are walking in the parks there (Waterworks, Kew Gardens, Glen Stewart Ravine) many will say hello as you walk by. On time I was walking by a stunning blonde and to my amazement, she smiled at me and said hello! I don’t recall this ever happening to me in any other part of Toronto! (I’ve actually experienced the opposite in the building I lived in the harbourfront: on some occasions, some upity-up hot chicks actually looked at me with the glare that said, “what the f**k are you doing in the this building.”)

    The stories like the ones you’ve mentioned disgust me. I believe you had another similar blog regarding another ritzy neighbourhood in Toronto. I am lucky that I earn enough money to be able to live in most of the desirable neighbourhoods in Toronto. But I chose the Beach. And one of the reasons was due to the amazing people that live there.

  10. Anthony says:

    You are a riot! Cheap sunglasses and a lexus eh? that’s the combo to get pulled over by cops in a ritzy area?

    Id rather have a decent house and the rest of the money in the bank than a monster mansion in FH. thats just me though

  11. Kathy says:

    It’s way worse in some areas south of the border in “gated communiites” where the whole neighborhood is surrounded by walls and fences and where armed security guards have a checkpoint at the front entrance. Talk about unfriendly! Makes forest hill look tame by comparison.

  12. Calico Cate says:

    Foresthill: another word for paranoia.

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