Fool's Paradise
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I now take great pleasure in quoting Doris McCarthy's delightful "early life" auto-biography, "A Fool in Paradise". She recently donated her property, "Fool's Paradise", to the Ontario Heritage Foundation. It is situated on "The Flats" at the end of Meadowcliffe Drive. Her account of the discovery of the property, the negotiations, and the construction is as much a part of Scarborough's socio-economic history as is some two-century-old surveyor's field notes or James McCowan's letter of 1834, written from this same place.

A Fool in Paradise

He said that he knew of another that might suit me better, and made a date to show it to me. This was a small stucco cottage, on a steep wooded slope above a long grassy meadow. The meadow lay between two ravines on a stretch of Scarborough Bluffs cut off by the ravines from any road access. From the cottage I could see a small woods beside the ravine on the left. "What about that land down there?" I asked. "Is it for sale?" I didn't like the idea that someone below me could someday cut me off from the lake. Mr. White admitted that it was also for sale.

"November 2: I'm too excited tonight to bear it alone. Today we went crashing around in the weeds and thorns and burrs and ended up in a heavenly spot, twelve acres on the corner between the bluffs and a great lovely ravine, nature on three sides, my beautiful lake, the ravine, the broad fields like Normandale. It's a perfect spot! And it's mine for $1,500. I have abandoned a new car and a year abroad with scarcely a backward glance, except to assure the year abroad that it's just postponed. Height! Woods! Lake! Please, birds. And as someone reminded me tonight, probably poison ivy.

I drew house plans and dreamed dreams. Mother labelled it "that fool's paradise of yours," and I put it in capital letters and made it official. I dragged all my friends out to see it and pass judgement, and then the blow fell. The realtor raised the price, and my dreams crashed to the ground. For the rest of the winter and the spring I stayed away, viewing it only from the hill across the ravine, feeling that my eagerness had betrayed me.

Before school ended in the spring of 1939 I asked a lawyer friend to get in touch with the realtor again and demand his final price, with no more nonsense. This time it was reduced to $1,250, a road down the hill and along the flat to reach it was thrown in, and Ted closed the deal while I was up north.

From Doris McCarthy, A Fool in Paradise: An Artist's Early Life, Macfarlane, Walter and Ross, 1990.

The Scarboro Heights Record V10 #7
See also Lakefront Estate Residential Development: 1890-1940