By Shaun Markey –
On this sunny but cold late January day, I am sitting with Katherine Muldoon at her kitchen table at 440 Evered Ave. Katherine’s five-year-old son Nico is excited to have a visitor in his home. He laughs and chatters in the background.
Katherine and I are talking about the events that led her to live in Westboro next door to a colleague from work, Lisa Mielniczuk, and how their two families’ lives have been enriched by being close neighbours. After chatting for twenty minutes or so, Katherine, as planned, texted Lisa inviting her to join the interview. Together, Katherine and Lisa recounted the story for me.
The tiny clapboard two-storey house at 440 Evered Ave. had stood undisturbed on its roomy 40×100-foot lot in Westboro for the better part of a century when the owner began discussions about selling to a local company, Cassone Construction Ltd.
When they couldn’t agree on a price, the two parties came to a stalemate. Negotiations continued until a compromise was reached: The little house at 440 was to remain intact albeit attached to the new home, 442 Evered, right beside it. The old was to be married to the new. And what a successful marriage it turned out to be.
The plans called for a 2,500 square foot, four-bedroom, three-bath, two-storey home on the severed lot. In 2006, Lisa, a cardiologist who had accepted a position in Ottawa, arrived here from a two-year stint at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, affiliated with Harvard Medical School. “It was hot. I had a four-week-old baby with me and one week to find a house,” Lisa recalls, vividly.
She readily admits she is not that handy so had already decided on buying a new house. Her search eventually led her to Westboro and Evered Avenue, where work was almost finished on the new build.
After 442 Evered was built, the small adjoining house became a rental property. Katherine is the latest tenant to make it a home for her family.
Similar to Lisa, a career move brought Katherine back to Ottawa, her home town. Fresh from completing her PhD in epidemiology at the University of British Columbia, Katherine accepted a senior research associate’s position at The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. She studies sexual reproductive health, including obstetrics and gender-based violence.
A friend helping with her home search noticed 442 Evered was available for rent. Katherine took it sight-unseen. That was in August 2014 and Nico was only eight months old.
Today, Lisa’s youngest, Olivia, is six years of age. She along with brothers Rowan (8), Charlie (12) and Jax, their four-year-old golden doodle pup, live happily in the new house attached to 440 Evered. They particularly enjoy having Katherine and Nico as neighbours. Being about the same age, the two youngsters are continually popping back and forth between the two homes. In the warmer months, the two little ones often have breakfast together at a small table on the front porch.
If there is a small glitch, it’s Nico’s approach to Jax. It turns out Jax likes to bark at anyone who approaches the house, including Nico. “They’re working on their relationship,” laughs Lisa.
[Click photos to enlarge.]
The little house Katherine and Nico occupy may be small, but it is a perfect size for the two of them. The ground floor has an attractive living room and an open kitchen with a table for four. Refinished pine floors and exposed ceiling beams are original to the house and add character to the interior. The second floor features two bedrooms and an updated bathroom. During our tour, Nico wanted to show me the toys he had stored under his bed. A place for everything and everything in its place!
Back downstairs, Katherine leads me through an extension off the back of the house which leads to a partially finished basement with a bathroom, laundry area and important storage space for Katherine’s bicycle. A set of shelves against the wall hold jars of preserves which Katherine, an avid gardener, puts up each year. The vegetables come, in large part, from their backyard. Katherine is also a musician and plays viola and guitar in her spare time.
Lisa works at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute as an associate professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa and the Heart Institute’s director of the Heart Failure Program, medical director of the Heart Transplant Program and medical director of the pulmonary hypertension clinic.
Nico attends kindergarten at Mothercraft, which is just up the street. Lisa typically drives her children to Turnbull School on Fisher Avenue. Katherine cycles to her office at the General campus of the hospital. “I see her when I drive by,” says Lisa. “I do feel guilty,” she says, laughing.
Now that they’ve been close neighbours for four years, the two women are quick to acknowledge how happy they are with their families living side by side. “Katie and I have such a great relationship. It’s far more than being just neighbours,” Lisa says. “We feel very lucky.” They are also quick to praise the Westboro area for having everything they need and want, especially Clare Park, which is just a short stroll away.
After chatting at Katherine’s, Lisa invites me next door for a tour of her home. The 12-year-old home is warm and inviting. The ground floor living space is at the back of the house. There is an excellent open kitchen and a spacious family room, which also accommodates a study area for the children.
Despite the depth of the house, there is still an ample backyard. There’s more than enough room for a 12-foot climbing wall for the children.
There are four good-sized bedrooms and two full bathrooms upstairs, one off the master. The downstairs level was recently refinished and now boasts a family room, a full bathroom and a guest bedroom.
There’s an old saying: “Good fences make good neighbours.” Katherine Muldoon and Lisa Mielniczuk are definitely good neighbours. Their families at 440 and 442 Evered Avenue, especially the youngest ones, enjoy an almost seamless existence, moving back and forth between houses, enjoying life and all it has to offer in Westboro.
The KT “Who lives here” series takes a closer look at some unique homes and the people who live there. Which Kitchissippi-area homes are you most curious about? It could be an old home, a new one, a big one, or a small one. Email a street address and a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do the rest. To read other stories in this series, click here.
This feature is brought to you in part by Engel & Völkers Ottawa Central, Brokerage.