Award-winning Toronto-based residential project

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0509 Choice

Waking from a dream to the sound of water splashing on rock, in the leafy embrace of this secluded glade so cleverly arranged as to seem simple, one would imagine the nearest outpost of civilization to be a day's hike at least.

It's much closer than that. This entire ecosystem exists as an oasis in the suburbs of Toronto, in the town of Acton. The effect was achieved largely by shouldering out the views of neighboring houses with extensive grade modulations and strategically spading in mature spruce to produce the feel of a small, brook-fed clearing in the forest.

What has been done here is a rare accomplishment: a waterscape with the look and feel of true nature. Just look; nothing is out of place.

This is no contrived arrangement; this feature succeeds as a complete work of sensual art, from its stepped waterfall to its light interplay of gray, green and brown, to the touch and taste of cool water and the rich smell of damp earth and growing things.

But this is a tale of two waterscapes. On one side, lush greens, boulders and fish, on the other, a complete pool and spa water play area.

This second environment includes a large gazebo with electrical power for a stereo and ceiling fan for lazy summertime reflection, while a separate cabana with changing area, washroom facilities and an outdoor, oversized shower and pull chain give this area a sense of independence from the main house. A nearby fire pit comes with installed natural boulders where you can sit and warm yourself after an evening swim.

The centerpiece is a large 20-by-40-foot, kidney-shaped swimming pool with cushioned flooring and an attached waterfall with multiple cascades. The falls are built with shelves and small, shallow pools that the children can play in.

The hinge between these two completely disparate settings is what appears to be a single fount of splashing, cascading water but is in fact two separate waterfall systems. One feeds chlorinated water into the pool, the other feeds the pond using natural ecology.

The narrow, 3-foot border between the two vessels is the edge of two worlds - birch trees, lily pads and koi on one side, and a sparkling swimming pool on the other.

Each month we feature one of 11 annual AQUA Choice winners. The 2009 honorees are: Botanical Decorators, Olney, Md. • Catalina Pool & Spa, Maple Ridge, British Columbia • Da Vida Pools, Austin, Texas • Ocean Quest pools by Lew Akins, Belton, Texas • Pools By John Clarkson, Jacksonville, Fla. • Rosebrook Pools, Libertyville, Ill. • Royal Oasis Pools & Spas, Medford, Ore. • Southernwind Pools, Dallas, Texas • Tumber & Associates, Orangeville, Ontario • Wise Pool Company, Conroe, Texas. For more information about AQUA Choice or to enter the competition, visit


Swimming pool waterfall
StaRite 1.5-horsepower pump 2-inch plumbing wide-mouth skimmer
StaRite System 3 cartridge filtration dual main drain safety fencing

Pond waterfall
2-horsepower submersible pump 3-inch plumbing mechanical and biological filtration

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