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Royal Ontario Museum director William Thorsell owns a property in the area, as does Don Green, co-founder of Roots, while CBC radio personality Andy Barrie lives across the road and can always be counted on for the loan of a hoe. Auto-parts heiress Sandy Simpson is said to have embarked on a $5-million renovation of her nearby rural property, and Grammy Award-nominated singer Feist is rumoured to be scouting the region for a retreat of her own.

If they don't already know Daniel Lynch and Isabel Beveridge, popular agents who sell real estate to a celebrity clientele, then, at the very least, they know the couple's country home.

To get to their own properties, they invariably have to drive by Mr. Lynch and Ms. Beveridge's peaked-roof Victorian-style home that sits smack-dab alongside the highway that cuts a picturesque swath through Mulmur Hills, an area boasting stunning views about an hour's drive northwest of Toronto.

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The home's location is not surprising considering that it used to be the two-storey general store and post office serving Ruskview, a crossroads hamlet that the Niagara Escarpment Commission (on its tourism website) describes as "the most scenic of the Escarpment's ghost towns."

Every window of the 1875 building offers a magnificent view of the Pine River Valley. The bright lights of the Mansfield Ski Club sparkle on winter nights, while in summer, the gently rolling hills, dotted with lush pastures and trees, is a treat for nature lovers.

Mr. Lynch, son of celebrated Canadian journalist Charles Lynch,and an amateur downhill racer, came to the region after growing up in the resort towns of Quebec.

He says that before discovering Mulmur Hills, long a magnet to the horsey set, he didn't know Ontario offered such splendour.

"I was from Montreal," he offers, sitting in front of the crackling fireplace in the country house living room. "And like most people from Montreal, I came to Toronto in tears. It doesn't have the Laurentians or ... the [Eastern]Townships .... Until I came here I never knew there was such an interesting piece of land so close to Toronto. It really has been a balm."

While he now waxes rhapsodic about the place, Mr. Lynch needed to be convinced by his wife that it was a property worth buying when they first spied it, languishing at the side of the road, about seven years ago.

"It was ramshackle," he recalls. "There was this old shed out front and, inside, the former owner had put in a pot-belly stove and was chopping the wood right on the floor."

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The original wide-plank pine flooring already bore deep gouge marks made by the pioneering store owners, who used to axe chickens in what was then a back room.

Ms. Beveridge, a visionary who founded the posh 21 McGill club, one of Canada's first fitness clubs designed with the professional woman in mind, embraced the distressed floors as proof of the building's hidden charm.

"She was the only one who could see past the decay," continues Mr. Lynch. "She has many friends in fashion and design, including Sandy Kybartas, the set designer, who she brought up and asked for their opinions. But even they couldn't see what it could be."

But Ms. Beveridge was undeterred. She had a vision - literally so, as her husband explains. Years before, she had vacationed in the area and an image of its verdant vales had permanently stamped her dreams. "It's the views," Mr. Lynch says. "They can't be beat."

Respecting his wife's instincts, he set about renovating the property, eventually transforming it from ramshackle to ravishing. He peeled off the interior lathe and plaster and unveiled walls made of solid boards, which they decided to leave exposed. The result, as Mr. Lynch observes, is a house with a split personality: "On the outside it is a Victorian, but on the inside it is a log cabin."

The building's wood-trim architectural style is evident now that the shed that once obscured the period design was sent off to the dump.

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Instead of making the front of the building the focal point, the couple reoriented their home to the rear, where they opened up walls and replaced them with floor-to-ceiling windows to make the most of the scenery. Cantilevered windows in the living room area are left open in summer, with the interior protected by an invisible screen. The windows also open to a large rear deck overlooking a swimming pond and a stand of fruit trees, remnants of the original homesteaders who once farmed the land.

Mr. Lynch says he and his wife and son often dine out on the deck in warm weather. But much feasting also takes place in the large kitchen around an elongated harvest table surrounded by Paris cafe-style chairs. The couple designed the room to resemble a restaurant, which isn't surprising given their backgrounds.

Before she moved into real estate, Ms. Beveridge owned the Westside Grill, a popular 1980s Toronto watering hole, and founded the Toby's burger chain. Her husband was co-owner of Prego della Piazza, another celebrated Toronto eatery.

Colourful abstract paintings that once decorated Prego (by Shirin Nashat, winner of the Golden Lion award at the 1999 Venice Biennale, and a former girlfriend of Mr. Lynch) now line the walls of the home. The home's country chic decor is the work of Ms. Beveridge, who enjoys hunting for antiques in the towns that make up Mulmur Hills.

In the kitchen, for example, stands a large wooden centre island created out of what was once a store cupboard in the still-operating Clock Store in nearby Creemore. Fitted with an English sink, it fronts a verdigris-coloured wall unit with mirrors that once was the bar in a saloon in Duntroon, a 30-minute drive north on the road to Collingwood. The butcher block comes from Mr. Lynch's mother, donated from her property in the Gatineau Hills, where he grew up.

She also gave the couple some prized Quebec antiques, including a pair of so-called Gatineau chairs (upholstered in fabric that blends with the home's burnished autumnal colours of red, orange and gold), which Mr. Lynch insists are "far more comfortable than the Muskoka chair."

He sits down in one of the chairs and the family's black-eyed terrier, Molly, appears at his side. Outside, all is still in the winter twilight.

"The house with a view," Mr. Lynch says, and smiles at the sunset.

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