Old Ontario Houses: Traditions in Local Architecture by Tom CruickshankOld Ontario Houses: Traditions in Local Architecture by Tom Cruickshank

Old Ontario Houses: Traditions in Local Architecture

byTom Cruickshank

Paperback | October 3, 2012

Pricing and Purchase Info

$9.99 online 
$35.00 list price
Earn 50 plum® points

Out of stock online

Not available in stores


"A testament to Cruickshank and de Visser's devotion to the subject." -- Style at Home (on the first edition).

Chosen as one of Style at Home's Top Ten Coffee Table Books.

Collaborators Tom Cruickshank and John de Visser offer a fascinating selection of more than 150 historic houses dating from the late 18th to the early 20th century.

A surprising amount of Ontario's history is revealed by the residences included in this new edition of Old Ontario Houses. Cruickshank and de Visser explore this rich history through imagery and anecdotes, and each house -- whether humble farmhouse or fabulous mansion -- tells a story about Ontario's past. The modest homes of determined settlers and the grand visions of power brokers of the day are profiled through the changing use of building materials or by the presence of architectural details.

A new architectural glossary rounds out this revised edition and makes it even easier to understand and appreciate our architectural heritage.

Tom Cruickshank is the author of five books on architectural heritage, as well as Living the Country Dream. He edits Harrowsmith Country Life magazine and lives on a farm near Port Hope, Ontario. John de Visser has illustrated 60 books and is one of Canada's most accomplished photographers. A member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Ar...
Title:Old Ontario Houses: Traditions in Local ArchitectureFormat:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 10.5 × 10.5 × 1.5 inPublished:October 3, 2012Publisher:Firefly BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1554075041

ISBN - 13:9781554075041


Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting Cool book to look through if you live in Ontario.
Date published: 2017-02-28

Read from the Book

Introduction Next time you're browsing through the real estate section of The Toronto Star, count the number of times you come across the term "all brick" in the advertisements for new subdivision houses. Like "ravine lot" and "parklike setting," "all brick" has a certain cachet for home buyers, and as buzzwords go, it probably carries more weight in Ontario than in, say, Calgary or Montreal, where brick construction was never so firmly entrenched in local building traditions. Indeed, Ontario is synonymous with brick and always has been. If you need more proof, just take the bridge across the international boundary from Sault Ste. Marie to the Soo in Michigan, from Fort Erie to Buffalo or from Prescott to Ogdensburg, New York. One of the first things an astute visitor will notice is the extent to which the American towns are dominated by frame houses and wood siding. Back home in Ontario, however, it's a different story, whether the dwellings are old or new. From day to day, we tend not to notice our predilection for brick houses, but we ought to acknowledge it for what it is: one of the most recognizable traits of Ontario's architectural legacy and something that distinguishes us from our neighbours. But it is not the only virtue specific to our vintage houses. Ontario even has its own homegrown signature style, once so common in our towns and countryside as to be ubiquitous but just as valid a hallmark as the saltbox in New England and the steep-roofed habitant homestead in Quebec. Our style has no official name but can easily be recognized by the symmetrical arrangement of doors and windows under a roof that stands only a storey and a half high. Over the front entrance is another identifying mark: a gable peak fitted with a Gothic-pointed window. Similar houses can be spotted from Massachusetts to Manitoba but never in the same numbers as in the corridor between Windsor and Cornwall and north into the Canadian Shield. Although the type has been around since the early days of settlement, only in recent years have we seemed to notice that this is something we can truly call our own. Perhaps the time has come to give it a proper name: the "Ontario farmhouse" style. Although easier to heat and more economical to build than a house a full two storeys high, the Ontario farmhouse owes its popularity more to politics than to pragmatism. Beginning in 1807, it was taxed at a significantly lower rate. At the same time, despite the ornament often lavished upon it, the gable was a purely practical amenity: It made the attic space more usable, providing extra headroom and much-needed light. Thus a provincial icon was born that would survive long after the tax was revoked in 1853. In fact, it was well after Confederation, when building fashion and technology embraced a new bigger-is-better ethic, that the classic Ontario farmhouse finally lost ground. Today, thousands of the genre survive in the heartland, a sampling of which are pictured on the pages that follow. As you study them, look for variations on the theme, especially the manner in which the front gable grew progressively steeper as the 19th century wore on. The storey-and-a-half farmhouse may be our signature tune, but old Ontario is rich in other architectural melodies, each a reflection of the times. Very few, however, are pure examples of their type, unsullied by outside influences. Rare was the builder who, embarking upon an Italianate-style house, for example, could resist tossing in a few Gothic touches here and there. Indeed, most Ontario houses are unabashedly eclectic. They owe their symmetry to the Georgian tradition, while their verandahs were inherited from the Regency style. Roof brackets and slender windows are Italianate, and Gothicism shows in pointed church-style windows. Another feature that marks Ontario architecture is its tendency toward conservatism. Even in the 20th century, the concept of "home" was more often expressed in the tried-and-true than in the avant-garde. Likewise, it was considered quite vulgar to display one's wealth with anything pretentious or overtly extravagant. But when you think about it, perhaps this isn't surprising. After all, the very first settlers in the province, the United Empire Loyalists, were by nature a conservative breed, aghast at the revolutionary ideals of the new United States. It could be argued that Loyalist values set the tone for generations to come. It is also no surprise to learn that Ontario houses, like the people themselves, were a blend of American and British influences, although builders were more likely to look to mother England for inspiration than south of the border. This would account for our preference for the British-born Regency and Gothic stylings, neither of which is as well represented in bordering states. And it also speaks volumes about why the Greek Revival, which swept the United States in the 1820s and 1830s, seldom took full flight in Ontario. It seems that its connections to democratic ideals and republican principles were just too much for monarchist Upper Canada. Indeed, suspicious eyebrows were often raised at any builder whose house displayed undue Yankee influence. It is sad to note that many of our older houses were lost in the battle with 20th-century progress. Some were lost to neglect, but many more -- in city and country alike -- were bulldozed to pave the way for development, especially in the Toronto-centred conurbation between Oshawa and Niagara Falls. Fortunately, public opinion is no longer indifferent to the fate of our architectural heritage, and there is a whole new generation of enthusiasts for whom restoring an old Ontario dwelling is the stuff of dreams. This book offers plenty of inspiration, as it divides the province along informal geographical lines and presents capsule portraits of some of our very best vintage houses. Presented here are quaint farmhouses and fashionable urban addresses from almost every corner of the province, textbook examples of architectural finesse as well as homespun vernacular style, rare houses of the late 18th century, plenty from the 19th and several that demonstrate the new directions of the early 20th. Some are museums, but most are privately owned and maintained. Some are ordinary, some are exceptional, but all are possessed of a certain timeless charm. And more than a few are brick. A Note on Nomenclature If you followed the news in the 1990s, you know that the municipalities of Ontario have been reorganized. The process actually started in the early 1970s, when regional government was introduced to replace the county system. The latest round of reorganization has been much more thorough: New megacities have been created, and many a town and township have been amalgamated, not always willingly. Along with the changes, some familiar places have literally been wiped off the map, but the old names linger in common parlance, and for the purposes of this book, they remain very much alive. In a work that highlights history, it seems only natural to refer to Norfolk County, the City of Trenton and Darlington Township, even though none of them officially exist as municipal entities anymore. Somehow, the new names -- the Region of Haldimand-Norfolk, the City of Quinte West and the Municipality of Clarington -- don't yet trip as lightly off the tongue.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Upper St. Lawrence

Moulton House, near Athens
McIntosh Castle, Kingston
Crysler Hall, Upper Canada Village, near Morrisburg
Stephen Merrick House, Merrickville
Fraserfield, near Williamstown
Hyland House, Barriefield
Log House, Barriefield
Merrick's Tavern, Merrickville
Charles Place, Kingston
Maplehurst, Maitland
Green House, near Athens
Cartwright House, Kingston
Poplar Hall, near Maitland
Checkerboard House, near Burritt's Rapids
Maison Québécoise, near Fournier

Bay of Quinte

Mount Grove, near Picton
Hubbs House, Bloomfield
Lapum House, Centreville
Clark House, Camden East
Roblin House, Belleville
Welsh House, Picton
Macpherson House, Napanee
Eakins House, Newburgh
Bickle House, Stirling
Bellevue Terrace, Belleville
Vanderwater House, near Foxboro
Merrill House, Picton
Benjamin Smith House, near Belleville
Fairfield House, Amherstview
Alexander Smith House, Napanee
Hayes' Tavern, near Picton
Lambie House, Bloomfield
Davey House, Bath
Miller House, Newburgh
Macaulay House, Picton

Danforth Road

Hill House, Toronto
Burk House, near Oshawa
Doctor's House, Black Creek Pioneer Village, Toronto
The Grange, Toronto
DuVernet House, Toronto
Mill House, Canton
Sunnyside, near Oshawa
Barrett's Octagon, Port Hope
Smith House, Port Hope
Edey House, Thornhill
Doctor's House, Blackstock
Barnum House, Grafton
Brown House, Toronto
Model Home, Etobicoke
Eckhardt House, Unionville
Trick House, Port Hope
Applewood, Etobicoke
Carswell House, Prince Albert
Patterson House, near Richmond Hill
Brand House, Port Hope
Bentley House, Brougham
Harris House, Toronto
Terrace Houses, Toronto
Floradale, near Orono
Burnham House, near Cobourg
Reesor House, Scarborough
Glendinning House, Scarborough
Ravensworth, Cobourg
Tremeer House, near Oshawa
Dodds Log House, Port Hope

Dundas Street

Parker House, Woodstock
George Brown House, near Paris
Robinson Cottage, Mississauga
Kress Hill, Cambridge
Crawford House, London
Beck House, Cambridge
Cherry Hill, Mississauga
Mount Fairview, Dundas
Woodend, near Ancaster
Hamilton Place, Paris
Cooper House, London
Victorian Regency Cottage, Brantford
Dundurn, Hamilton
Blathwayte House, Burlington
Connor House, Oakville


Breakenridge House, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Willowbank, near Queenston
Honsberger House, near Jordan
John Brown House, near St. Catharines
Moyer House, near Vineland
MacDougal House, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Woodburn Cottage, Beamsville
Clench House, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Field House, near Niagara-on-the-Lake
Rodman Hall, St. Catharines

Lake Erie Shore

Island View, Amherstburg
Duff-Baby House, Windsor
Walker House, near Port Dover
Van Norman House, Normandale
Sovereign House, Waterford
Cottonwood Mansion, Selkirk
Annandale, Tillsonburg
Gordon House, Amherstburg
John R. Park Homestead, near Harrow
California Bungalow, Kingsville
Ruthven, near Cayuga

Southwestern Breadbasket

Strachan House, Goderich
Barron House, Stratford
White Log House, Guelph
Reid House, near Embro
Swope House, West Montrose
Ercildoune, St. Marys
Bowles House, near Guelph
Castle Kilbride, Baden
Holmes House, Stratford
Nemo Hall, Petrolia
Lawrence House, Sarnia
Board-and-Batten House, Elora

Western Highlands

Stinson House, near Dundalk
Redfern House, Owen Sound
McEwen House, near Chatsworth
Abandoned House, Bruce Peninsula
Squire House, near Owen Sound
Cleland House, Meaford
McDermott House, near Port McNicoll
Bon Accord, Durham
Mackenzie House, Durham
Stillmeadow Acres, Durham
Keough House, near Orangeville
Springbrook, near Kimberley

On the Edge of the Shield

Seymour House, Madoc
Reydon Manor, Lakefield
Victorian House, Pembroke
Inge-Va, Perth
Tin House, near Kirkfield
Brick Farmhouse, near Lindsay
Mitchell House, near Lansdowne
Birkett Castle, Ottawa
Matheson House, Perth
Victorian House, Campbellford
Doxcee Houses, Hastings
Wood House, near Pakenham
Connors House, Ottawa
Earnscliffe, Ottawa

Canadian Shield

Walsh House, Thunder Bay
Log House, near Bracebridge
Meredith House, near Huntsville
Hart House, Huntsville
Angus House, North Bay
Ermatinger House, Sault Ste. Marie
Bell House, Sudbury
Senator Gordon House, North Bay
Woodchester Villa, Bracebridge


Selected Bibliography


Editorial Reviews

If flipping through the pages of Old Ontario Houses is committing the sin of coveting my neighbour's house, then I'm guilty as charged. Tom Cruickshank offers readers over 150 historic beauties in this well-researched and photographed book, and I'd be happy to own any one of them.... Cruickshank takes readers on a tour that stretches from Windsor to Cornwall and north to Thunder Bay. The chosen homes signify either the best of a style, or are simply unique, but it doesn't mean that they're the only historic homes in the area. Many towns in Ontario have a rich architectural legacy -- as a drive through Dundas, Port Hope or Cobourg would prove. Readers will love looking at the historic homes in their areas and finally finding out about the people who built them and why. Sometimes homes are cross-referenced with others of a similar nature. On page 101, Mount Fairview in Dundas is on display and that is the house I have coveted since age 5. The view from the top must be amazing.