My father – now in his 80s – always dreamed of being an artist, but despite getting a scholarship to Art School his mother felt it wasn’t appropriate. Getting a real job to help with the household was deemed the right course of action, so my father shelved his dream and got work spray painting cars in an auto body shop. When he emigrated from England to Canada in the late 50’s (my mother and sister following once he had earned enough money to send them boat passage), his destination was to where car painters were needed – Hamilton, Ontario.
Except my Dad didn’t go to the automakers looking for work. Instead, he walked into an advertising agency and presented himself as a graphic artist. Back in those days, creating a beautiful ad required a graphic artist who could use a small airbrush (the miniature version of what car spray painters use) to enhance photographs for print. For example, if the advertisement was an image of a car driving through the countryside, my father would spray paint out blemishes like power lines or unwanted signage, make the sky bluer, add fluffy clouds or enhance nature’s foliage.
I’ve always admired my father for taking a chance and moving to a new country for a better life with greater opportunities. He did it for himself and the future of his children. But it really impresses me that my father followed through on his dream to be an artist, and even took the chance to realize it as a young husband and father in a new country.
As I moved into young adulthood my Dad and I had a chat about where my future lay. His advice? Trust your heart, do what you love, and the money will follow. I knew by his example that he was right. It’s why I spent ten years in university acquiring a multi-disciplinary education in housing, bought my first house at 23 to pursue my love for renovation, launched my sales and marketing division specializing in Innovative Space, and was engaged in the development of over $50 million in loft conversion and new home construction. Today I consistently remain one of Bosley Real Estate’s Top Ten Realtors, now celebrating my 26th year in Toronto real estate – while spearheading my newest adventures. One is my site called Houseporn.ca – which supports students in the fields of Architecture, Landscape, Design, Product and Real Estate in Canada, and the other has been transforming vintage 1880s manse in Charlottetown PEI – a vacation rental – called The Black House. You can read of its progress in The Tales Of Upper Hillsborough.
Following Dad’s advice I do what I love, and love what I do.
In retirement my Dad enjoys painting. His work is brilliant, with a range of styles using watercolours. Here’s one of my favorite pieces. Gorgeous!
I remember when I was a kid I gave my Dad a coffee mug with the words “World’s Greatest Dad” emblazoned across the front.
Even as a child I knew it was a little cheesy, but sometimes sentiment just is.
Happy Father’s Day!
~ Steven and the urbaneer team
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