Joe Brennan and Danny Greenglass have always enjoyed the outdoors — hiking and riding their bikes, say — but over three decades of building high-end homes together at Brennan Custom Homes for clients in Toronto, Muskoka and Palm Beach, Florida, meant they rarely allowed themselves the downtime to commit to regular escapes. This changed once they built their island retreat in eastern Ontario. “When you park your car and get on your boat, your shoulders just drop,” says Joe. “It’s like arriving in a whole other world.”
In 2011, Joe and Danny — partners in work and in life — bought Shanty Island on the St. Lawrence River near Gananoque, Ontario, with the plan to build a house. They had just completed a project on a nearby island, and the location — a historic shipping artery dotted with trading posts — seemed at once idyllic and emblematic of the Canadian outdoors. They purchased the property thinking they would use it for three of the four seasons and finally spend time relaxing while hosting family and friends during the prime summer months.
Composed of stone- and cedar-clad pavilions linked by glass passageways, the 4,800-square-foot house shows a refined respect for its surroundings. The decorating remains deliberately low-key, in part because “we’re not interior designers,” says Joe matter-of-factly, and in part because an overly considered statement would have been incongruous with the natural beauty that seduced them in the first place.
Even with work fighting for their time, Joe and Danny head to Shanty Island nearly every weekend. Says Joe: “There’s just this constant sense of well-being, relaxation and enjoyment.”
Author: Amy Verner
House & Home July/August 2020
Danny Greenglass & Joe Brennan, Brennan Custom Homes