News / Toronto

From fibreglass elephant to the Leslieville Doll House: Toronto's weirdest yards

Toronto, it seems, has plenty of ambitious yard decorators — though they may spark concerns about what their creations may do to neighbouring property values. There’s no time like spring to check out some of the city’s oddest and most spectacular yard art. As perplexing as these decorative choices may seem, each yard has a story, and often it’s not as crazy as you might expect. Here’s a sampling of just a few.

550 Manning Ave.

Spring has sprung in Toronto at last, and while most home owners are filling their front yards with flowers, Guiseppe (Joe) Rauti, 75, of 550 Manning Ave. is busy filling his with a wild mishmash of knick-knacks and sawed-up chunks of wood, all glued together with bulbous mustard insulation foam.

Rauti has been adding to his Tim Burton-esque arbor a little at a time for 17 years now — a brass belt-buckle here, a tiny porcelain dog’s head there — so that today the sculpture reaches all the way from his house to the sidewalk.

“The kids come by, and they stop and look,” says Rauti proudly. “People take pictures and want to know the story of this place.”

Rauti’s yard is certainly unique — a jumble of plastic toys, rocks and tree branches complete with fish pond and altar to the Virgin Mary.

473 Clinton St.

Longtime resident Albino Carreira has attached thousands of corks, coins and chopped up pool cues to the outside of his home to create fabulously strange mosaics that stretch across the yard to where a sign identifies the property simply as “The Wood.” Carreira’s decorations continue onto the street, where his van is covered almost entirely in plastic insects and figurines.

92 Regal Rd.

On Regal Road, a life-sized aboriginal man on horseback sits with his face turned upwards, his arms outstretched, palms open. Emerging from the ground in front of him are two overturned cowboy boots, and a sign that reads simply, “Road Closed.” The striking sculpture bears the signature of the late American painter and sculpture Frederic Remington, who specialized in Western-themed art.

77 Yarmouth Rd.

Owner James Lawson has kept it simple: his otherwise ordinary patch of front lawn is dominated by a life-sized, bright-white sculpture of an elephant. The fibreglass animal was the thesis project of OCAD graduate Matt Donovan, and has been standing on Lawson’s lawn since 2003.

1016 Shaw St.

On Shaw Street, the Parashos family has turned their two-level detached home into a gaudy monument to Greek antiquity, with whitewashed pillars, urns and statues crowding the front lawn and facade.

37 Bertmount Ave.

Who can ignore the infamous Leslieville Doll House, as shown in this file photo. It’s perhaps the most alarming yard in Toronto. On the front lawn Cookie Monster, the Telletubbies and hundreds of other dolls rise ominously from long wooden stakes.

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