This place rocks // Going In House

From records to mixers to ukuleles, two Toronto lawyers fill their downtown home with music

By Todd Harrison

On Tuesday September 21st, 2010

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Bob Dylan tunes are spinning on the turntable in the home of lawyers Ben Millard and Jo-Anne Fan. The stereo and record collection get pride of place in the living room of the couple’s ground-floor apartment in a 19th-century rowhouse in downtown Toronto.

photo by Nancy Tong

Decorating and organizing a one-bedroom apartment is difficult for some couples, which is why it’s helpful for Fan and Millard to be able to focus on their shared love of music. “Ben and I connected on music when we met,” says Fan. “So it’s important in our relationship and this is reflected in our home.”

photo by Nancy TongKitchen window cookbooks: Though they both cook, Millard is the primary chef of the household. “I only cook basic, need-to-live meals,” says Fan.

photo by Nancy TongMexican art: Fan picked this up while on a yoga retreat in Puerto Vallarta 10 years ago. The words are the first line of a crude poem. The innuendo is lost on Fan, who is not a Spanish speaker, but she’s pretty sure it’s “a bit of 14-year-old boy humour.”

photo by Nancy TongRecord collection: The couple’s impressive vinyl library includes a wide range of styles, from rock and funk to hip hop and metal. Millard’s in charge of keeping the collection organized, and like most music nerds, he sticks religiously to his cataloguing system. “I’m marginally obsessive-compulsive,” he confesses.

photo by Nancy TongMusic nook: A long-time singer-songwriter and guitarist, Millard says this corner of the living room is the best place in the house to sit down and play. It’s also the home of Fan’s ukelele and his top-flight acoustic guitar. “I’ve always had guitars, but I finally got a decent acoustic when I graduated from law school,” he says. “It was a gift from my parents.”

photo by Nancy TongTurntables: Millard has a regular DJing gig at a Cabbagetown bar, which Fan scored for him — though he suspects that they thought she was the DJ they were getting. “They were really disappointed when I showed up,” he says. His equipment is stored in plain sight in the dining room.

photo by Nancy TongEngagement guitar: Millard and Fan found this painted guitar at Playdead Cult, a garage/art studio in Parkdale. Painting their names and date on the bottom was the artist’s idea, but it was also good timing: Millard was already planning to propose on vacation two weeks later.

 

photo by Nancy TongConcert tickets: Fan and Millard are frequent concert-goers. It’s a passion that extends right back to their first date — well almost, anyway. “We were supposed to go see The Hidden Cameras,” says Fan, “but we never made it.” Instead, the couple spent the whole night at the Ottawa bar The Aloha Room, where they’d met for pre-show drinks.


Ben Millard and Jo-Anne Fan, both from out west, met in law school at the University of Ottawa. They found their home in downtown Toronto in 2006.

  • Firms: Symes & Street (Ben), Wortzman Nickle (Jo-Anne)
  • Areas of Practice: Litigation (Ben), Electronic Discovery (Jo-Anne)
  • Years of Call: 2007 (Ben), 2006 (Jo-Anne)
  • Home Location: Downtown Toronto (Jarvis & Wellesley)
  • Building Profile: Ground floor of a rowhouse built in 1877

Photography by Nancy Tong