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Koffler Estate House
Joker's Hill

The property at Joker's Hill has had a long and storied past; starting from being part of the territory of the Wendat-Huron people, to it's most recent use as the Koffler Research Centre, owned by the University of Toronto and serving as a biological research station and public lands. In between, though, is the part of the story that involves the now-abandoned estate house on the tallest hill of the property.

Location attributes for Koffler Estate House
Location   King City, Ontario
Built :: Closed   1953 :: 2006
Status   Abandoned
Difficulty   ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Hazards Risk   ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Security Risk   ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
AUE Rating   ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

The lands that form Joker's Hill have seen it all; from logging to quarrying to an equestrian farm. This last use occurred when Colonel RS McLaughlin (of General Motors Canada fame) assembled and gifted the estate to his daughter Billie Mann and her husband. The namesake for the lands came from Billie's favourite horse, Joker, who was known to break free of his pen and climb a tall hill with a spectacular view; a hill where Billie and her husband had the estate house erected.

In 1969, Joker's Hill Estate passed hands again, this time becoming the property of Murray Koffler, the man who founded the ubiquitous Shopper's Drug Mart chain of pharmacies. The property became the summer home of the Koffler's, where Murray's five children were to be exposed to the outdoors and country living. With the rise of the Shooper's chain, the property played host to numerous events and dignitaries, such as Pierre Elliot Trudeau when he was Prime Minister, and HRH Prince Philip during the equestrian Continental Championship of North America.

In 1995, in order to preserve the lands from development, the Koffler's gifted the property to the University of Toronto, although the Koffler's continued to live in the estate house, leasing it back from the University until 2006, when they declined to renew the lease.

While poking through the now shuttered house, document show it was used by University personnel as they made their plans for the property, with documentation and blueprints in storage in the grand room at the meeting point of the two wings. That said, the most recent of the documents are from 2011, and the estate appears to have been shuttered since then; off limits to the researchers utilizing the lands, and with no attention paid by the property management.

And with the lack of attention, decay and rot are setting in. The manor is still in decent shape, but the telltale signs are there: drywall and plaster bowing to water infiltrating behind them; paint peeling away from the walls; and mold spots forming wherever it can take hold. The linen closet, which still bears the names of the Koffler's children on the shelves with their linens, is particularly hard hit by the mold onset.

And while it's in the early stages, the rot shows what the eventual fate of the estate house will be.

Joker's Majestic View - November 2016 (Extra Restricted Content)
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