37 Bertmount Ave.
Hundreds of dolls decorate the fence, lawn, and facade of this Leslieville landmark. Faded pink plastic, dirty plush, human and animal, Disney and dollar store, they’re lashed to the metal gate or skewered upright on wooden stakes in the grass. Many have seen better days. Some are missing eyes. Still, the house never fails to inspire joy, or surprise, or some other complicated emotion in first-time viewers.
“We don’t really talk much about the dolls,” says Katia Rodriguez, 40, who’s lived next door for six years. “The whole street is just kind of like, ‘Oh, yeah, the dolls.’”
Handsome and neat, Rodriguez’s house stands in sharp contrast to her neighbour’s. The only acknowledgment of the house next door is an unusually high fence—installed by previous owners, Rodriguez says.
One benefit of living next door to the unusual home was a discount. “We got this house under asking at a time when the market was crazy in this area,” says Rodriguez. They paid a few thousand under asking.
The owners of the doll house used to sit outside and greet neighbours, says Rodriguez, but they’re rarely seen lately.
On the fence, a weathered plaque is still prominent: “It is a pleasure to congratulate you on your front garden being judged as one of the loveliest in the city. Our community is truly fortunate to have people like you whose hard work and dedication enhance our surroundings—Barbara Hall, Mayor.”