Toronto’s Wood Cake House

The main façade of the Wood Cake House

photography by: Omri Westmark

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Up until 1993, the 2-story building on 473 Clinton St. in Toronto was yet another unassuming house among many across the neighborhood. As the owner suffered a debilitating injury, he opted to use his extra time to decorate his home with a vast hodgepodge of knickknacks, glass marbles and perhaps most notably, circular pieces of wood, hence its apt name – the Wood-Cake House.

The neighborhood of Seaton Village is best-known for its quiet streets, all of which are lined with single-family homes and luxuriant trees. One of its inner streets, however, boasts a semi-detached house, whose décor has baffled passersby for decades now.

 

What was once a rather generic brick building turned into a quirky tourist attraction when its owner opted to cover every square inch of its exterior with anything he could lay his hands on. Among the things affixed to the edifice’s outer walls are plastic figurines, unused toys, corks and shells. Nevertheless, it is the copious wooden slices anywhere you look that earned the buildings its moniker, the Wood Cake House. Made primarily of timber, these buttons are called “wood cakes” for their short cylindrical shape.

 

The building in its current form can trace back its origins to 1993. It was during this year that the homeowner, Albino Carreira, an immigrant from Portugal, was fatally wounded as he fell off a rickety scaffolding while working in a construction site. Soon thereafter, Carreira found himself permanently disabled and workless. With so much spare time at his disposal, Carreira was eager for some kind of distraction from the harsh reality that was imposed upon him.

 

In a matter of few years, Carreira single-handedly covered his then dull home with makeshift ornaments and thousands of small plates of timber which he screwed to the walls. At some point, even his parking van was endowed with its fair share of trinkets.

 

Over the years, the odd-looking house attracted the attention of neighbors, onlookers and even former mayor Barbara Hall who in 1998, dubbed the place as “the city’s Best Eccentric Garden”. In contrary to one might assume, Carreira enjoys the citywide fame and even conducts private tours to whoever is plucky enough to knock on his door.