In the heart of Ottawa's Champlain Park Community, the Kaminsky residence is a tribute to the enduring power of love, the art of adventure, and the spirit of giving back. This November, Dr. Victor and Laraine Kaminsky graciously opened their home as part of the Homes for the Holidays house tour in support of Hospice Care Ottawa.
The Kaminskys' story began in 1973 when they left their native South Africa with two small children in tow to make Canada their home and eventually welcome their third child. Fast forward to 2017, they built their current residence — a versatile space catering not only to extended family visits but also accommodating Laraine's consulting business and providing Victor's retreat in retirement since leaving the Queensway Carleton Hospital, where he spent his entire career doing cancer surgery. It’s more than a house; it's a living gallery, with each room showcasing a collection of eclectic items that document the couple's nearly 56-year journey together across 96 countries.
Each piece they've acquired along the way encap-sulates memories from the places they've visited or resided, paying tribute to their passion for travel, their adventurous spirit, which led them to traverse 15 countries on bicycles, and their unwavering hope for global peace. Notably, the very first piece they obtained, a copper kettle from Israel, holds a prominent place in their collection.
Elevating the narrative of their art collection is the work of interior designer Celeste Irvine-Jones from Ottawa's Creative Friction. Her role in arranging the collection was pivotal. Instead of categorizing art by geography or theme, Celeste chose a cosmopolitan and holistic approach, aiming to weave a tapestry that celebrates the shared threads uniting diverse cultures.
“Colour plays a pivotal role in the collection,” the designer explains. “The colour varieties, intensity, and emotional depth evoke powerful reactions, creating a dynamic and emotionally charged environment. With an open design and abundant windows allowing natural light to flood the rooms, the architecture [of the home] itself becomes a canvas, providing the perfect backdrop for this extraordinary collection.”
Laraine and Victor have a firm belief that artwork in a home should be deeply personal. Their collection is a living testament to this philosophy. It's ever-evolving and constantly growing, with new pieces finding their place as required. Celeste Irvine-Jones has had the privilege of placing each piece, ensuring it harmonizes with the environment, enhances the visual appeal, and resonates with the Kaminskys’ personal experiences.
On the subject of Homes for the Holidays, Laraine shares that the journey has been profoundly meaning-ful for her family. Their commitment to the cause was echoed by a team of dedicated friends and volunteers who worked tirelessly to make it all possible. And amidst this collaborative effort for a noble cause, Marie Lavine, an Ottawa-based glass artist, shared her beautifully crafted fused-glass Menorahs, some of which held special significance for their family and friends, contributing to the celebration of religious diversity as part of the house tour.
The journey extended into the realm of florals, where their beloved florist, Machiko from Ottawa Blooms, played a special role. She carefully selected South African flowers, her personal favorites, to infuse the Kaminsky residence with the warmth and vibrancy of South Africa. With over three decades of experience, Machiko has a unique perspective, firmly believing that flowers create beauty. In her own words, "In Victor and Laraine's home, the floral arrangements aren't just decorations; they are a tribute to the couple's love for their homeland and the enduring beauty of the world."
When asked about what they hoped visitors might take away from the experience within their home, Laraine responds, "Our home is a true representation of our journey from Cape Town, South Africa, to Canada, and all the places we've visited or lived in between. Victor and I have cherished our travels and the artifacts we've collected along the way. Chanukah, being a festival of lights and a remembrance of miracles, symbolizes our hope for lights and miracles in the world, especially in the Middle East during these difficult times. We aspire to peace and light."