The North End Adventure
My office at the time, being in the north end of the city, prompted some business from that area. Indeed, I wasn’t nearly as prolific with my sales as some other people, but nonetheless, I managed to pick up the odd bit of business, usually because it was my turn to get the call. That’s what happened when I went to the house on the corner of Inkster and McGregor.
The house was a stately two storey building, custom built by the owner in about 1940 or so, when Inkster Boulevard was a relatively posh area of West Kildonan. The owner, whose name I don’t recall had a sheet metal shop in the downtown area and while he was more or less retired, still went in to the office daily to keep himself busy. He and his wife had slowed down considerably and the big home was far too much for them. I remember them to have been very dignified, sociable people, although I don’t recall much else. In any case, it’s not them I wanted to write about, but rather my buyer who called on my advertisement.
Mrs. Cherewick called me up to enquire about the place. She sounded like a gruff old teacher with her pointed questions. She was indeed a teacher at St. John’s College on the U. of M. campus as I found out later. She was quite guarded about her reasons to relocate from the university area where she and her husband had their home. Finally she admitted she was putting her husband into St. Josephs Nursing Home because he was suffering from Altzheimers syndrome and needed more care than she was able to give him.
I have to concede that I was a real estate agent, not a social or medical worker, and I had no idea at the time what she was talking about. Suffice it to say that she was depositing her husband somewhere that she would be closer to visit. In the mean time, she wanted a home that was a little bit classy, having an illusion about the character of the Inkster Boulevard district. Ten years earlier she might have been right, but now, not so much.
I asked if I should come pick her up (having a curiosity about her own home and circumstance) but she said no, she would meet me at the Inkster house. She came by herself and we started through the place. It was very nice, she said, but too big and too much work for what she had in mind.
The long and the short of it was that she wanted to be in the general area, in a (sort of) classy neighborhood and nearer to her husband. She could certainly commute to the University. I suggested I might come over and look at her place to get an idea of her lifestyle. It would help me to determine what might suit her. She agreed reluctantly and I went over.
HOLY CRACKERS! What a property! I don’t remember the exact dimensions of the river lot but it was at least an acre running right back to the Red River. The back of the property behind the house was covered in plants, shrubs and trees, none of which should survive the Manitoba winter, but yet thrived here. The back of the lot was two tiered with the house sitting up fairly high, which I imagine was because the street was a dyke built after the 1950 flood.
The house itself was a modest one and a half storey home, well designed and well kept, which was somewhat of a relief to me. So Mrs. Cherewick was not an uppity sort of woman and would be reasonable to deal with. I even got to meet Dr. Cherewick, a horticulturist with enough degrees after his name to make up a whole alphabet. He happened to be quite lucid at the time and was describing some of his plants to me. I could see the tension melting from his wife’s face as we were chatting. She must be under a terrific amount of pressure and I felt a certain empathy toward her.
After looking through her home which she had listed with a couple of high rollers from another company, I left to do my due diligence and begin looking for a place for her. By a stroke of extreme luck I found a place in West Kildonan on the street right beside Kildonan Park. It was a single story two bedroom home of an age a little newer than her old place in Fort Garry and called her up immediately. The place was a little further out than she had expressed, but it was right across the street from a major park with flowers and trees and all sorts of nature and only about two minutes from the house on Inkster Avenue. This was an upscale neighborhood and in my mind it was ideal. Mrs. Cherewick agreed after seeing the place, but she wanted to bring her son to look at it too so I arranged another appointment for a Sunday afternoon.
You can imagine my surprise when what seemed to be the whole family showed up for the viewing. I don’t recall now whether the house was vacant or the owners were just out for the duration. Suffice it to say I had my hands full shepherding that whole bunch through the house and getting them back outside. I left them on the front lawn in animated discussion about the merits of the house and the area on the promise from Mrs. Cherewick to be in touch with me.
Well the whole business took a strange twist in the coming days. I had been working with a local structural engineer whose bi-level house I had for sale and took an offer on. He’d make a perfect candidate for Mrs. Cherewick’s house I thought and showed it to him. I was right. He was pretty well dazzled by the lot and the planting on it. It was right up his alley to grow grapes as he had done at the bi-level. Even the house suited them. Any changes were no big deal for a structural engineer, he said. But there was one thing that bothered him, that was the lot size.
Armed with a survey certificate, my engineer client set out to determine whether he’d got more land than he had bargained for – or less. It was less. The property you see wasn’t perpendicular to the street and that’s where the discrepancy lay. Well, when you’re attached to the largest engineering firm in the province, it’s not too hard to make a case out of land discrepancy. You see, the agents had taken the dimension on the street as the property width instead of taking the perpendicular measurement.
I was getting gladder and gladder that it wasn’t my listing. As for the two high rolling listing agents, I heard they left the business shortly after that, never to be heard from again. And the engineer, well he got a bit of a deal (I don’t know how much) and he was happy.
And Mrs. Cherewick, well she got moved over to West Kildonan, entertained her family and visited her husband regularly. She was happy. So that was that.