hello!neighbor – ginger

I was introduced to Ginger through an acquaintance who thought I should see her house. Seeing houses sight unseen, is not unlike going on a blind date, you’re never quite sure what your getting yourself into. I showed up one hot August morning and was welcomed into a home that made my heart skip a beat. I was in love.

After a quick tour of this house, we hopped on some bikes we found in her garage and rode over to Ginger’s new house, 53 Indian Grove. That’s right, this isn’t Ginger’s home anymore. She’s moved on to a place nearby that is brimming with stories and history. Amidst construction debris and people busy working we toured her new home. I felt a little like Alice down the rabbit hole. Could a world like this really exist? Perched high on a hill, surrounded by gnarly old trees, Ginger started to tell me the story of her new house. How she came to own it and what she found when she stepped inside. The previous owners, George and Harry Mills had lived there for over 80 years and left a home overflowing with documents and artefacts. (They hauled 11 constructions bins away.)  There’s no doubt that the house was in a state of despair (vines were growing inside the kitchen) but the narrative of these two brothers and the world they left behind was only more reason for Ginger to love the house.

It couldn’t have fallen into better hands. Ginger has spent time documenting the pre-construction state of her home with photographs and text. It’s a testament to her passion for “home” making. Ginger obviously has a deep respect for the patina of history yet is not afraid to layer her own contemporary life into the mix.  In time, I hope I’ll get a chance to show you 53 Indian Grove as well. (For photos and videos of 53 Indian Grove - please check the links at the end of this post.)

For now, enjoy this tour!

Name: Ginger Sorbara

Occupation: Designer

How long have you lived in your home?

Just over 6 years.

Any kids or pets?

We have three kids, a dog and several insects.

Which room do you spend the most time in? Why?

Hmm… probably my office, but I wish it were the kitchen or the bedroom.

How did you end up living in Parkdale/High Park?

It was an accident. We found the right house at the right time for the right price. Just before finding 118 I told my husband that I’d never move to the west end… And now, like so many people living here, I wouldn’t live anywhere else, not for long anyway. High Park has an established greatness, but it is also in the process of becoming. The next ten years will be among the most exciting for the area and I am very much looking forward to being part of it.

What is your favorite moment/object in your home?

I love my piano. I just started taking lessons; it is a baby grand that sits in the middle of the space goading me into playing whenever I pass. I also love my bath. I won’t explain it you’ll just have to try it.

What influences you? Where do you get your inspiration from?

People, movies, art, architecture and literature, and industrial design all inspire me. When it comes to art and culture I have a serious wondering eye. I enjoy it all, the good the bad and the ugly. I love looking back at design, style and fashion; how our tastes change and morph says a lot about who we are and what we aspire to.

Where is your favorite place to visit?

Rome, London, and Montreal (my sister, the rock-star lives in London (dragonette), and my other amazing sister lives in Montreal), and Rome is my home away from home. While I like going to new places, I also enjoy returning to my old loves, layering new experiences on old, and building up a “patina” of history in these places. I guess I have a fascination with “home” and like to build them wherever I go.

What are you reading at the moment?

I just finished Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom and loved it; he makes my toes curl with the hyperrealist cultural mirror he builds in front of the reader. Amazing. Currently Simone de Bouvoir’s She Came To Stay is in early progress along with The Blood of Other’s by the same author, so far so good. Always wish there was more time to read…more time.

Can you tell us a little bit about your new house. How you found it? Your plans for it?

It’s hard to say a little about the new house as it takes up so much of my time and mental energy. I found it 6 years ago, we had just arrived in the area, and I felt like I was cheating on the house I had just moved into. 53 Indian is just a few blocks over and I passed it every day on my walk. It wasn’t the most beautiful house, neither was it the easiest to get along with…no driveway, big ominous trees, a failing roof, it was a total mess, but it had great potential and I wanted to rescue it. So after “cheating” on Howard Park for almost 6 years, a relationship I dearly loved despite my infidelity, we bought 53 Indian in February of 2008. 53 Indian has a rich cultural and social history thanks to the previous owners, George and Harry Mills, who lived there for over eighty years, their social conscience, their intellectual curiosity, love of music, and creativity, are still inspiring.

To see images and video of 53 Indian click on the following links:

Drew Lightfoot (director) – Brian Borcherdt- While I Was Asleep, filmed at 53 Indian.

Find a copy of the amazing and local art and photography Magazine Poor but Sexy, with stunning…

Photography & Direction: Seed9
Hair & Make up: Lori-Ann Lazary
Styling: Jessica Albano
Models: Christina & Daniel – Elite
shot at 53 Indian check it out.

Also visit the web gallery of 53 Indian pre-construction at:

Greg Pacek

All photos by Kristin Sjaarda for The Marion House Book.


Filed under hello! neighbor


  1. Posted September 26, 2011 at 10:12 AM | Permalink

    Just gorgeous….the warmth and love is evident and I love the natural and textural pieces. Anybody whose got a big ole dog gnawing on his stuffed toy is ok by me :) Love this home, that rug in the bathroom, the gorgeous light filled rooms and that kitchen! Good luck on your new home, off to check out the links!

  2. Posted September 26, 2011 at 10:35 AM | Permalink

    I had to close my lap top and stare up at the ceiling for about ten minutes after looking at these images. it was an intense experience.

  3. Posted September 26, 2011 at 10:51 AM | Permalink

    Wow, what a truly heart-beat-skipping space!

  4. sara
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:52 AM | Permalink

    Amazing home. Love every room. Love the gold sofa and long golden drapes. And all the floating shelves throughout. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Thelma
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 2:04 PM | Permalink

    what a nice surprise!
    I was in Ginger’s home last Summer for a “Piano Concert” (OUR kids piano recital ;) I love her house so much (warm, homly, artistic, interesting etc.) and also love the fact that she is a smart and open person.Good luck with your new project Ginger.

  6. Posted September 26, 2011 at 2:40 PM | Permalink

    love the first photo, so clever the photo of the room..and the kitchen is lovely as well…

  7. Posted September 27, 2011 at 7:34 AM | Permalink


  8. Posted September 27, 2011 at 9:02 AM | Permalink

    I can’t get over this space. It’s absolutely amazing!

  9. Posted September 27, 2011 at 1:10 PM | Permalink

    This house is stunning! It’s the perfect mix of old and new!

  10. Monika
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 2:56 PM | Permalink

    I’m totally in love with this house — especially the stone tiles and windows in the bathroom! (sources…?)

    However, I am even more in love with 53 Indian, having read the article in the Globe this summer. What an incredibly beautiful homage to the former owners and past life of the house!

    I can’t wait to see what the house looks like after the renovation.

    Kudos to Ginger!

  11. Posted September 30, 2011 at 10:02 PM | Permalink

    The damask chairs, gold mirror, piano and bathroom all literally made my heart skip a beat. This home is absolutely gorgeous- a perfect mix of warmth and edge…perfection!!!!

  12. Marty
    Posted January 22, 2012 at 5:07 PM | Permalink

    Is Ginger the sister of Martina?

  13. Posted January 22, 2012 at 8:12 PM | Permalink

    @marty – yes, i think so – of dragonnette fame.

  14. Posted September 8, 2012 at 6:37 PM | Permalink

    I am a cellist and also a violin maker/repairman and own a violin shop in Kitchener. I was wondering recently if you know what happened to the cello that George Mills played? I would be interested in buying it, if it’s available. I was told by a friend of George that George liked to play it. I understand he played bassoon quite well, too.
    My friend thought perhaps that George’s children? might have the instruments. Do you know how I could contact them?
    Thanks very much for your help.

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