Growing up, she dreamed about owning this Kawartha Lakes mansion. She just bought it for $1.9 million

Growing up, she dreamed about owning this Kawartha Lakes mansion. She just bought it for $1.9 million

Who: Paulette Sopoci, 50, an entrepreneurial coach and skincare brand representative. The history: In 1978, when Sopoci was eight years old, her family moved from Pickering to a 200-acre farm in Kawartha Lakes.

While her father tended to the cattle and grew vegetables, she rode around the sprawling property on horseback with her sisters (she is the second-youngest of five girls), admiring the area’s rolling hills.

Around Christmas, her mother’s favourite time of year, her extended family would gather to share a festive meal. “I lived an idyllic life as a farm girl,” she says. “We may not have had trips to Disneyland, but if we wanted another pony, my dad would go to auction and buy one.”

Every day, during the 45-minute bus ride to school, Sopoci passed a majestic three-storey brick home with regal shutters and a gorgeous entranceway. Locals called it the Janetville Mansion or the Doctor’s House, after the physician who built it in 1880. “It looked like a magical castle to me,” she says. She wondered who lived there and dreamt about owning it someday.

In 1988, when Sopoci was 18, she moved to Toronto, lured by the excitement of city life. She started working for an entrepreneurial coaching firm called Strategic Coach, where she still works today, and later developed an e-commerce business selling skincare products .

In 2004, Sopoci bought a four-bedroom century home in Riverdale. She paid $765,000, which was $166,000 over asking. “People thought I was crazy,” she says. But she loved the fact that it overlooked Withrow Park, which reminded her of her country upbringing.

The following year, she met her husband, with whom she eventually had a son, Jack, and a daughter, Avery. Over the next 17 years in Riverdale, Sopoci spent $370,000 renovating the house. “It was meant to be my forever home.”

The hunt: Before the pandemic, Sopoci had never considered moving back to the country. She enjoyed the hustle of her daily life in the city. But during quarantine, she and her employer realized she could work from home and be just as productive.

Plus, Sopoci had recently turned 50, and the change of pace amid lockdown encouraged her to reflect on what she wanted the rest of her life to look like. By then, she and her husband had separated. (They remain on good terms, working together to co-parent Jack, now 12, and Avery, 10.)

In November 2020, a childhood friend told Sopoci that the Janetville Mansion was on the market. Sopoci didn’t immediately pounce on the opportunity—her mother had died months earlier (she’d lost her father a decade ago), and she was still grieving. It didn’t feel like the right time to move.

But the place still hadn’t sold by the start of this year. So, in the spirit of fresh starts, Sopoci pulled up the listing. “Without hesitation, I said, ‘I am going to buy that house.’”

On January 4, Sopoci made the hour-and-a-half drive out to Kawartha Lakes to see the place. She loved it just as much as she had […]

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