Lady Love Lived Here

scotto

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The Beach Strip
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Posted with permission from the Hamilton Spectator
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Apr. 7, 12:37 EDT
Lady Love lived here
The bargain days are gone on Hamilton Beach Strip. But for those with the dough, there are breezes and big views. This house has history too
Paul Wilson
The Hamilton Spectator



You've been thinking that one day you're going to buy a cheap little place on the Beach Strip and catch some rays in your golden years.

You may need to chase another dream. Prices are spiking fast out on that spit of sand under the Skyway.

Skinny lots for $100,000. Bungalows for $330,000. And today we check out an old gem that's just hit the market at $460,000.

Not so many years ago, the Beach was a bargain. In 2001, the city tried to sell off vacant lots there and struck out.

The next year, the year the waterfront trail went in, the city turned the job over to agents. They sold all 22 lots fast.

People had to put houses on those properties within two years. They did, nice places that have pulled the whole Strip up.

In this spring of '05, warm breezes soon kissing the sands, you'll pay plenty to join the Beach crowd -- especially if you want to be on the lake side of the boulevard, and everybody does.

There's a vinyl-sided bungalow for sale now, three bedrooms, one bath -- $330,000. A townhouse for $380,000. One house just sold for $435,000 and one's on the market now for $450,000.

The house we're touring today, at $460,000, has been listed by an Oakville agent. She's done her best to keep Hamilton out of the fact sheet. The directions are "just west of Burlington Bay." And the house description is "Waterfront Burlington Beach grand Victorian summer home."

But this is Hamilton, 677 Beach Blvd. You can look through it at an open house this Sunday, two to four.

The house is 100 years old. For years the Allan family lived here. They ran the Beach Strip amusement park. After father died, the family took in boarders. One was Charlie Love and he fell in love with the Allans' only daughter Aileen.

In October 1943, just before Charlie went off to war, they married. Thirteen months later, Charlie's plane crashed and he was presumed dead.

Aileen stayed on at the Beach Strip house. Some say she never moved because she thought that one day Charlie would come marching home. She did not remarry.

But Aileen Love was no tragic recluse. Quite the opposite. She worked for the local Catholic diocese, Westinghouse, National Defense and knew French, Spanish and Italian.

In later years, she often held court on the porch. It's a beauty, and goes three-quarters of the way around the house. She talked to everyone. Even the motorcycle guys, they say.

Finally she moved to a west end nursing home. For those final few years, she believed she was still on the Beach. She died four years ago at 92.

One day early in the summer of 1999, Grant McLean and the woman who is now his wife, Lorraine, drove past the Beach home. Both were separated, both had townhouses in Burlington and both fell in love with the house.

They got it for $174,000. "Everybody thought we overpaid," Lorraine says. The house needed to be rebuilt from the inside out. The couple held off moving in for several months while a contractor put in new plumbing, electrical, kitchen, bathroom.

In the years since, Grant and Lorraine and friends have carried on the restoration.

It is a bright, open house, but they've left the history intact. The wooden box doorbell system is still in place. So is Aileen Love's quirky little bathroom beneath the stairs. And her 1927 graduation diploma from Park Business College hangs over the kitchen door.

Lorraine is a rabid gardener and was often out on the property from first light to sunset. People saw her and talked to her. They told her more about Aileen Love.

One man told her that he and his three brothers had boarded at the house during the First World War. Their mother had died and father was fighting.

He said they sometimes got in trouble and were sent to bed without supper. But young Aileen would always sneak them up some food.

Lorraine took the old man through the house. The room he slept in is the one Lorraine now uses as a dressing room off the master bedroom. When the man saw the size of it, and thought of him and his brothers packed in there on those nights long ago, he wept.

In 2003, on the first day of spring, Lorraine and Grant got married in their dream home. But now they must change course. Grant worked at the lab at Petro-Can in Oakville and it's closing. He wasn't yet ready to retire but the job finishes next month.

They're not sure what place will be home next. It could even be Fort McMurray, northern Alberta, where a three-year contract with Syncrude could give them a good nest egg. Lorraine's heard it is not a great place to be a gardener.

StreetBeat appears Tuesday,

Thursday and Saturday.

pwilson@thespec.com

905-526-3391


Photo #1
When you ring the side doorbell, pointer No. 2 springs to life -- an original feature of the Beach home.
Photo #2
Lorraine McLean and Rex the dog are sorry to leave the Beach. You can see their house this Sunday.
 

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Crawfish

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Dec 1, 2004
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#3
I remember Aileen Love very well. She was often sitting on her porch with her mother who also lived to a ripe old age. I think that in later years she worked at DND and I remember seeing her waiting for her morning transport---I think she went as far as Borden.
 

scotto

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The Beach Strip
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Crawfish said:
I remember Aileen Love very well. She was often sitting on her porch with her mother who also lived to a ripe old age. I think that in later years she worked at DND and I remember seeing her waiting for her morning transport---I think she went as far as Borden.
I tried to get a few old pictures, but no luck. I did find her old graduation diploma from business school. It is dated August 1927 and she passed Shorthand with a honors mark. :tbu:
 

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