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The midcentury home Drake demolished to build his Toronto mansion

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The razed house was designed by a pioneering modernist

A low-slung house with a wide front lawn.
The 1963 James A. Murray design that was demolished to make way for Drake’s estate.
Robert B. Moffatt via Creative Commons

In 2016, evidence emerged that rapper Drake was masterminding a 21,000-square-foot-mansion on the outskirts of Toronto. Well, four years later, those plans have come to fruition—complete with a splashy spread in Architectural Digest. The house? It ended up being 50,000 square feet.

For some context, in order for Drake to get his mega-mega-mansion—featuring amenities like a 3,200-square-foot master bedroom suite, an “awards room”, “hall of sports jerseys”, and NBA regulation-size indoor basketball court—he first had to tear down a notable piece of local architecture.

Built in 1963, the single-story abode that originally sat on the expansive lot was designed by late Canadian modernist architect James A. Murray, who passed away in 2008 at age 88. Remembered as an "architectural force" by the Globe and Mail, Murray designed many innovative private homes, apartment buildings, schools, churches, and offices around Toronto. He was also an architecture professor at the University of Toronto, as well as the founding editor of Canadian Architect magazine.

Now, about the house: From the few exterior shots we can gather, it had a striking low-slung profile characteristic of modernist homes and an understated facade of glass and buff brick. There also appears to be a covered passageway that opens up to a more tucked-in courtyard, plus a rear pool and patio.

According to the Toronto Modern blog, the original interiors of the home featured walls and fireplaces built of the same buff brick seen on the exterior. There was also walnut paneling and millwork, plus matching walnut furniture. And to be expected from a glorious midcentury home, sunlight flooded in from extensive floor-to-ceiling windows.

With its demolition, this house joined a number of Murray designs that have been razed over the years, including the Anglo Canada Insurance Building, Toronto's first curtain-walled office building. It would also mean one less work of modernism in Bridle Path, the upscale Toronto neighborhood where local architects explored modernist designs in the '50s and '60s (but now makes headlines with lavish properties like this Versailles-inspired estate.)

In a 2011 blog post about these midcentury homes, Canadian firm ERA Architects wrote:

Greatly varying in materiality and form, these houses convey the experimental spirit of the time, as well as influences of international modernists. The clean and minimal lines of the few surviving houses contrast with their ever larger, contemporary neighbours.

In the case of this particular Murray design, it simply got eaten up.