There’s no better way to find out about us as builders than to look at what we build. As you move along our streets try and note how all the homes sit in harmonious rows; how roof-lines flow gracefully from one to the other, roofs are massive and solid looking, and the facades glitter with windows (In our view there’s no such thing as too many windows). For over twenty years we’ve built neighbourhoods of lasting value. Go see.

Tall Trees

Pickering

The big stone house peeks through the trees as you climb the Eastern slope of the Rouge Valley on Twynn Rivers Drive. It’s a stately home that marks the beginning of Tall Trees, and the beginning of Marshall Homes – Homes of Lasting Character.

Our first, built to last.

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The beginning of it all.

Continue along, taking the first right, and the road reveals an exercise in architectural indulgence. The homes are huge, varied, and well spaced, set against a backdrop of towering pines. No two are alike, but they all fit together in a harmonious whole. Twenty years after it was built this is still one of the most desirable addresses in Pickering.

There’s a story to tell on Craig Marshall, here. One of the homes has a front porch that wasn’t in the plan the buyer had signed off on. Homes were framing in nicely on that street, but one day as he was admiring the way the shapes were coming together he realized one house was crying out for a front porch, so he added it on at his own cost. The owner saw right away how much better the house looked and offered to pay the extra, but Craig wouldn’t have it. “I did this for the overall look of the street, so it’s as much for me and all your neighbours as it is for you”, he said. (Or words to that effect, it was twenty years ago, and I’m recalling this from a conversation in the Black Dog).

Craig’s not in the habit of giving away porches, but he does care greatly about the look of the neighbourhoods he builds. The goal is always to fit in, in an outstanding manner; whether it’s an infill or a whole community, he strives to build the best looking, most valuable homes wherever they be.

Woodview Park

Pickering

Moving up along the edge of the Rouge Valley – and several thousand dollars down in the price range – is Woodview Park, a project that actually deserved to use the word, “park” in its name.

We seem to have a thing for parks and wild places.

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Up the valley, under the price.

This was Marshall Homes first experiment with two kinds of homes; asymmetric semis, which are small starter homes designed to look like big mansions, and in the spirit of “New Urbanism” some detached singles with old-style garages at the back of the property. This made for some very attractive streets with the feel of an urban neighbourhood. You can do a lot of nice things with big front porches and lots of windows when you don’t have to design around a pair of garage doors. But, guess what we learned? While every home sold and we’re quite proud of the end result, it seems that there is urban thinking, and there’s suburban, and they don’t mix. Out in the ‘burbs most people like their garages attached! From then on we decided to just do a better job of integrating the garages with the façades.

We can’t resist telling another Craig Marshall story: There’s an un-planned for house in Woodview Park that looks as though it had been built years before Marshall Homes came along. As you’d expect, Craig studies the homes section of the magazine rack pretty thoroughly and one day this Home-of-the-year award winner leaped off the cover and he just had to build it. So he did. He secured the plans and built the house, and every now and then he drives by just to have another look. You may call this the work of an impulsive individual, but the house did sell quickly and he had the pure pleasure of having built a home that he loved. When you’re a builder, loving houses is a very good thing.

Rouge Valley Enclaves

Pickering

Did you ever dream of post and beam? Craig has, and when some infill property came available in an area just east of the Rouge Valley he snapped it up and proceeded to amaze everyone once again.

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Post and beam in a subdivision?

Post and beam in a subdivision?!! Why?!, cried the peanut gallery. Because it fit so well with the trend toward those baronial soaring great rooms that were becoming popular, that’s why. The warmth and solidity of exposed timber frames might remind you of a beautiful mountain lodge experience you had once upon a time; why not have it every day? By now it was clear that Pickering had evolved into a highly desirable, place to live for people of some wealth. And the need for more opulent homes was growing fast.

Petticoat Ridge

Pickering

At the top of a ridge overlooking Petticoat Creek and Lake Ontario, and a short dog-walk to shopping, is one of the wonderful contradictions the rolling river-laced terrain of Pickering offers.

Up on petticoat Ridge is a row of splendor.

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Up on Petticoat Ridge.

Looking out from within the homes we built on Petticoat Ridge you could believe you were living in the country. But you aren’t, every city amenity is within arms reach. The lots are large on Petticoat Ridge and so are the homes, semi-customized from our standard plans adapted to take full advantage of the terrain. It was beginning to look as though Marshall Homes was finding a niche as a builder of luxury and custom homes.

Fairport

Pickering

When our architect asked him to build his dream home, Craig Marshall just about burst with pride. That’s the highest compliment an architect can give a builder, you know.

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Our architect built his dream home here.

Welcome to Fairport, a lovely piece of land that backs onto a ravine and a little creek in Pickering. This is the place our architect chose to design his own dream home, and wound up doing that for many others as well. For obvious reasons of privacy we wouldn’t tell you which one is his, but take a drive through and see if you can guess.

Frenchman’s Bay Village

Pickering

Also known as Margaritaville.

Did you ever hear the expression, “There goes the neighbourhood”? Well, we can proudly say, “There went the neighbourhood because of what we built there.” When Frenchman’s Bay Village came to life it changed everything for everyone in the area.

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Also known as margaritaville, we’re told.

Home values in the area climbed, homeowners were encouraged to renovate and upgrade. Shops appeared along Liverpool Road and a lively street life emerged. There are now restaurants, both casual and fine dining, music venues – (do, by all means check out Music on The Bay, which features blues headliners from all round the world) – the Frenchman’s Bay Marina has been upgraded and a handsome clubhouse for the yacht club, and event venue stands at the waters edge. Where once was a boat storage yard there is now a thriving waterfront community. When we built this place it became more than a place to live, it’s turned out to be a way of life.

Copperfield

Pickering

Our first solar-geothermal, and LEED homes.

The story of Copperfield begins the story of Marshall Homes awakening to the challenges of building for a sustainable future. Craig had always been interested in alternative building practice, which made people think he was a bit of a dreamer back then; wonder what they’re thinking now?

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Leaving footsteps our children can follow.

On the surface Copperfield is another attractive subdivision designed and built in the Marshall Homes manner. The real beauty of these homes is under the skin. Craig had attended a seminar in Ottawa on solar power, global warming, and the future of his industry. You could say it rocked his world. From then on he could no longer see anything the same way. What used to be good enough no longer was, and he set out to become part of the solution.

We’ll spare you all the details, but here are a few highlights. He became an early adopter of Energy Star; in Copperfield he built the first production subdivision homes entirely heated, cooled and hot watered by a solar-geothermal system. (read more about this) It’s where Marshall Homes introduced solar preheated hot water, and grey water recovery systems; Copperfield holds the company’s first LEED house. (read more about this) This is where we experimented with green grass driveways – results weren’t great, by the way, not everything works the first time! Here is where 40-year roofs became standard, high efficiency furnaces, heat recovery ventilators, higher standards of insulation and sealing. This list goes on, and as one can see Marshall Homes began to build to a higher standard.

 

Leaving footsteps our children can follow.

Others noticed, and soon Craig was invited to join the Federal Task Force on Sustainable Building Practices, as chair of the technology committee. Soon he was speaking at Green Build conferences; today he is much quoted and is happy to share experience gained the hard way – by building and seeing it work. “This is not about competition”, he says, “This is about our future, so this experience belongs to everyone.”

Along with this flood of new technology came further efforts to maintain higher design standards. “You can have the most beautiful house on the street, but if your neighbour cheaps out and builds a far less attractive home next door it drags down the value of the entire street, so we just won’t let it happen.”  All the homes in Copperfield are all-brick, all around; all the roofs feature 40-year shingles with a cedar shake look, and all the main floors are 9’ tall. “Neghbourhoods of lasting value” became part of the company mantra.

And, finally, to make the buying process easier on everyone he introduced level pricing. It’s the simplest, easiest way to spec out a home because it takes the stress out of selecting all the fixtures and finishes.

Yep, Copperfield was a launching pad.

Riverside

Pickering

Bring all your senses to life.

Visit Riverside and you could imagine you’re in a little village somewhere in the Cottswolds.

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Bring all your senses to life.

Riverside may be among the prettiest of all the places we’ve built, but what’s really special to us is that it’s yet another example of the trust Marshall Homes has earned from town councils for building alongside environmentally sensitive land. Along the West boundary is conservation land where deer and wild turkeys range, and we saw that it remained undisturbed throughout the building process. Extra care went into managing water run-off and keeping the trout happy in Urfe’s and West Duffin’s Creeks.

There’s not much more we can say about this place. We continue to innovate, we built another LEED block here and all the technology we now see as tried and true is in place.

Riverbend

Pickering

Life flows where the river bends.

A mile or so up East Duffin’s Creek is yet another Marshall Homes community built alongside preserved land.

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Life flows where the river bends.

There’s an interesting kind of migration taking place in the GTA. As prices rise in the city many young urbanites are looking to the suburbs for something more. Riverbenders have one thing in common; they are cool. This is the coolest new neighbourhood in Ajax. And very soon all the good things they enjoyed about city life will surely follow.

Port 32

BOBCAYGEON

Where Life meets Style in a cute little town.

Craig spent all his summers around Bobcaygeon at the family cottage nearby. He knows the village and he loves it. When this opportunity to build an adult lifestyle community came along it presented a new kind of challenge – building opulent homes for well to do retirees on the rocky shore of Pigeon Lake.

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Bobcaygeon, our first adult lifestyle community.

This involved learning a lot about what the Boomer-Zoomers really want from the rest of their lives. One thing we’ve learned, people who live here really like it a lot.

No one wants for things to do in Port 32; it’s a new life, a new style with new neighbours, always ready for the next adventure, ready for a round of golf, ready for an early run up a leafy lane…

Ready for a hot game of tennis, a cool dip in the pool…

A cruise up the lake for a dinner out…Or a long walk on private paths to Watergarden Point, our own private park that juts out over the water, over the shoals where busy ducks feed, and little fish school.

Just across from the yacht club…

It’s like living in a 5-star woodland resort, with the clubhouse, the harbour, the elegant homes. All-brick bungalows built on solid rock, Ontario’s first R-2000 community; begun eighteen years ago. It took a rock of a man to bring this community to life. There were skeptics, the task was huge, an engineering feat of pure stubborn will.

Bobcaygeon, our first adult lifestyle community.

Eighteen years later everyone else finally gets it. It’s green with mature trees and natural limestone terraces; evidence of green thumbs is everywhere, a Garden of Eden for gardeners. The spirit of Port 32 continues in step with the values of Marshall Homes. It’s about the things that really matter to us.

On a soft summer night you’ll walk the shore, and fill your lungs with clean sweet air,
Something will splash out there in the dark. A bright butter moon will light the bay, and buttery light rides ripples to the shore. A loon will call from far away.

You’ll raise your gaze to the Milky Way, maybe see a shooting star; then marvel at this sweet life and, in moonlight, make your way home.

Search forever, but you’ll find there’s only one Port 32.

The Future

We’d like to see a future where we can all stop biting our nails over global warming and greenhouse gas emissions. We’re working on it.

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The future.

Most of us would be shocked to know Canada leaves the third largest ecological footprint on the world. Yet, Canada has also played a lead role in building science and is positioned to be an example of housing for reducing carbon emissions throughout the world. We’re at the beginning of new paradigms for green development. We could build energy efficient communities that are so attractive they’ll be replicated and improved upon over and over in municipalities throughout Canada, the US and the world at large.

So allow yourself to dream a bit, talk to your kids, grandkids, friends and neighbours and join Marshall Homes as we strive for ever more sustainable building. Think about those few who have made a difference in the past. Imagine yourself as one of them.