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Old Posted Oct 27, 2020, 4:29 PM
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British architecture and urban design in Canada

Does your city have any notable buildings or building styles that could have been transplanted from the UK? These could be historical buildings, or more recent ones; they could be modest or grandiose.

When I think of British-style buildings over more American forms, I tend to think of things like:

- Georgian classical architecture made out of stone (Americans have less of this; and they seem to have torn down more of it during the late 1800s)
- Neo-Romanesque architecture of the Edwardian/late-Victorian era
- Streamline moderne moreso than Art Deco
- Euro-inspired housing projects of the late 1960s-1970s (e.g. False Creek south in Vancouver doesn't look like any affordable housing built in the US)

And little stuff. Houses like these on the right don't really look American, are much smaller than what was built in the US at the time, and they're actually built with things like brick structural walls (on the exterior) rather than wood framing.

But I'm not an expert on this, and I'd love to get more information from people who may know more about these things.

Anyway, compared to other former British Empire countries like Australia or South Africa, we probably have a lot less, but I think we have noticeably more of these building styles than comparable American cities.
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Old Posted Oct 27, 2020, 4:54 PM
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Here's one I like in Halifax, completed 1818 (bonus points for statue of rifleman in pith helmet to the right celebrating the Boer War; I wonder how many years that one has left?). Most of the buildings there built prior to 1870 or so were heavily influenced by British styles and many of the builders were Scottish masons. Not much was built from about 1870-1930 but around the 1890's you see Chicago style buildings, etc. I have also noticed that as late as the 1970's or so there was a lot of British influence in city planning and public housing projects.


(from streetview)
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Old Posted Oct 27, 2020, 4:58 PM
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Wasn't most of of Old Montreal built by wealthy Scottish and English merchants influencing most of the style of the area? I remember hearing that on a tour years ago.
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Old Posted Oct 27, 2020, 4:59 PM
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Obviously Upper and Lower Canada's architecture was influenced by where the builders/architects originated. Much of Montreal post 1780s was built by the Scots and is modeled after Glasgow. Toronto's style is small town Scots-Irish/Ulster with Old Toronto/York more Empire Loyalist English/American. The English and Scottish gentry frequently did business in London bringing with them the latest design trends. Rural immigrants brought with them designs for simple farm houses; eventually evolving into Ontario Gothic built on plans printed in the 1865 Canadian Farmer. My great grandfather built his own home inspired by his family's large estate home in rural Ireland.

Last edited by urbandreamer; Oct 27, 2020 at 5:11 PM.
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Old Posted Oct 27, 2020, 5:01 PM
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I'd say we actually have quite a lot of British style architecture, in the East, and much more than in Australia. I've lived in Melbourne and Sydney and just like here, the older architecture is very British, and then it diverges. Sydney's architecture looks more like LA and Melbourne is more like Toronto.

I always found Front Street, looking toward the Dominion Public Building, reminds me of Oxford Street in London. And the high streets of Toronto are very reminiscent of the UK. From Queen to Eglinton, aside from the straightness (and careless public features like the obnoxious overhead yellow traffic lights and sidewalks), the feel is very English.

Central Ottawa's older buildings have a regal, London feel. where I found Canada feels really different than the England - but not Scotland, is how all our buildings are designed around winter. Save for BC, you don't get the indoor/outdoor spaces like Europe or even Australia. Here, you generally know for sure whether you're indoor or outdoor, there some newer retail buildings are more of a weather shell to keep the rain out.

Also, Lower Water Street in Halifax, beside Queen's Marque, jumps out to me as Belfast-like.
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Old Posted Oct 27, 2020, 5:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hipster duck View Post
Does your city have any notable buildings or building styles that could have been transplanted from the UK? These could be historical buildings, or more recent ones; they could be modest or grandiose.

When I think of British-style buildings over more American forms, I tend to think of things like:

- Georgian classical architecture made out of stone (Americans have less of this; and they seem to have torn down more of it during the late 1800s)
- Neo-Romanesque architecture of the Edwardian/late-Victorian era
- Streamline moderne moreso than Art Deco
- Euro-inspired housing projects of the late 1960s-1970s (e.g. False Creek south in Vancouver doesn't look like any affordable housing built in the US)

And little stuff. Houses like these on the right don't really look American, are much smaller than what was built in the US at the time, and they're actually built with things like brick structural walls (on the exterior) rather than wood framing.

But I'm not an expert on this, and I'd love to get more information from people who may know more about these things.

Anyway, compared to other former British Empire countries like Australia or South Africa, we probably have a lot less, but I think we have noticeably more of these building styles than comparable American cities.
https://goo.gl/maps/snzqZ9M47iVwGAHw7 are you talking about this sort of street ?

or it's more favourite version

https://goo.gl/maps/t2fN8wio6TajysK69

This is a very common UK form of housing built in the 20's/30's
https://goo.gl/maps/VXr6KzeLPGDqWpev5

https://goo.gl/maps/86v1XQMCVZZSBStm7 I think these are from the 1890's. Up until the 80's I think they had a front garden.
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Old Posted Oct 27, 2020, 5:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbandreamer View Post
Obviously Upper and Lower Canada's architecture was influenced by where the builders/architects originated. Much of Montreal post 1780s was built by the Scots and is modeled after Glasgow. Toronto's style is small town Scots-Irish/Ulster with Old Toronto/York more Empire Loyalist English/American. The English and Scottish gentry frequently did business in London bringing with them the latest design trends. Rural immigrants brought with them designs for simple farm houses; eventually evolving into Ontario Gothic built on plans printed in the 1865 Canadian Farmer.
Scottish builders are somewhat underappreciated in Canadian history, particularly as far as Quebec goes with many people thinking those are mostly old French colonial buildings (maybe people actually living in Quebec don't think this and it's an outsider misconception). Then later on there are architects like John M. Lyle who was born in Ireland and created a different style of building from what was common in the US at the time.

However it's still interesting to me how if you pick an old Montreal building from 1840 and pick one from Halifax from 1840 they still look completely distinct for the most part. Maybe you could find some very plain stone boxes that look similar. There is little overlap between historic Atlantic and St. Lawrence/Great Lakes masonry styles, even though many of the builders would have been recent immigrants from different parts of the UK. One aspect of this that might be a bit unfair comparison-wise is that the Central Canada buildings tend to be limestone while Atlantic is a mix of sandstone, granite, and ironstone (pyritic slate, which is less desirable as a building material than limestone/sandstone but the only easy-to-cut stone in some areas).
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Old Posted Oct 27, 2020, 5:26 PM
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When the Scots came to Quebec, Montreal was a tiny village.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scots-Quebecer

Canada was built by the Scots and British Army. Winnipeg's grandiose architecture and layout was very Scottish.
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Old Posted Oct 27, 2020, 5:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Proof Sheet View Post
are you talking about this sort of street ?

...

This is a very common UK form of housing built in the 20's/30's
https://goo.gl/maps/VXr6KzeLPGDqWpev5
From what I can observe, this kind of single family home style is very common in parts of interwar Toronto with a few regional differences. For example, the roof will be asphalt shingle rather than tile, and the window casements will be North American.

Those bungalows on the other side of your link are a dime-a-dozen in Toronto, with the same regional variances.
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Old Posted Oct 27, 2020, 5:34 PM
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The BC Legislature could be in Liverpool, Calcutta or Melbourne, but it couldn't be in Seattle:

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Old Posted Oct 27, 2020, 5:44 PM
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The architect had an interesting life: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Rattenbury
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Old Posted Oct 27, 2020, 5:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hipster duck View Post
From what I can observe, this kind of single family home style is very common in parts of interwar Toronto with a few regional differences. For example, the roof will be asphalt shingle rather than tile, and the window casements will be North American.

Those bungalows on the other side of your link are a dime-a-dozen in Toronto, with the same regional variances.
Their houses’ windows always seem to go right up to the level of the eaves.
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Old Posted Oct 27, 2020, 6:06 PM
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I'll add to what others have said about Canada's British architectural legacy vs. Australia and South Africa (and to some degree the U.S.)

Canada IMO certainly doesn't have less British style than Australia or South Africa, minus road infrastructure and signage. We tend to be much closer to the UK (if not identical) in terms of climate and landscape and as a result available building materials also reflect that too.

I also find that there are some obviously English cues in New England that one sees, and that as others say in Canada things British actually often lean more Scottish than English.
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Old Posted Oct 27, 2020, 6:12 PM
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Where did Montreal's "Walk'Ups" get inspired from? Most of them don't look much older then early 20th century. I never understood the appeal of them and they are very unique to Montreal and Quebec as a whole. I can't find any examples in France or the U.K.
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Old Posted Oct 27, 2020, 6:14 PM
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Originally Posted by TorontoDrew View Post
Where did Montreal's "Walk'Ups" get inspired from? Most of them don't look much older then early 20th century. I never understood the appeal of them and they are very unique to Montreal and Quebec as a whole. I can't find any examples in France or the U.K.
It's almost as if they're really a homegrown genre. At least part of the style is apparently related to unique tax assessment rules or local regulations of some kind.
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Old Posted Oct 27, 2020, 6:22 PM
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Originally Posted by TorontoDrew View Post
Where did Montreal's "Walk'Ups" get inspired from? Most of them don't look much older then early 20th century. I never understood the appeal of them and they are very unique to Montreal and Quebec as a whole. I can't find any examples in France or the U.K.
Why do you assume that they get their inspiration from somewhere else ? They are unique to Montreal. Most of them were build between 1890 and 1920.

You never understood their appeal? You don't see how urban and dense they make Montreal? While providing large appartements for families? The exterior stairs have become iconic to the city. They provide mode space inside while allowing front yard with trees and gardens. They make great street wall with a variety of bricks or grey stones and some architecture flourishes on the roof, windows, balconies, etc. What is it you don't understand ???
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Old Posted Oct 27, 2020, 6:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Martin Mtl View Post
Why do you assume that they get their inspiration from somewhere else ? They are unique to Montreal. Most of them were build between 1890 and 1920.

You never understood their appeal? You don't see how urban and dense they make Montreal? While providing large appartements for families? The exterior stairs have become iconic to the city. They provide mode space inside while allowing front yard with trees and gardens. They make great street wall with a variety of bricks or grey stones and some architecture flourishes on the roof, windows, balconies, etc. What is it you don't understand ???
Why they were appealing at the time they were built, not now, was how I understood the question.
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Old Posted Oct 27, 2020, 7:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Martin Mtl View Post
Why do you assume that they get their inspiration from somewhere else ? They are unique to Montreal. Most of them were build between 1890 and 1920.

You never understood their appeal? You don't see how urban and dense they make Montreal? While providing large appartements for families? The exterior stairs have become iconic to the city. They provide mode space inside while allowing front yard with trees and gardens. They make great street wall with a variety of bricks or grey stones and some architecture flourishes on the roof, windows, balconies, etc. What is it you don't understand ???

First of all I never "assumed" I asked a question. And for structures built between 1890-and 1920 most look like they were designed in the 1950's.
Urban and dense they are but I find them to be soulless structures The streetwalls they create look sterile and depressing. The lack of a break between them doesn't help. What don't you understand about not everybody not liking the same thing?????????

I do appreciate the genius of them having no internal staircases making for better layouts, and I do like that they are a quirky relic of Montreal's past urban planning but the esthetics of the vast majority of them don't do it for me. Is that ok by you? Am I allowed to have an opinion???????



You can feel free to post as many pictures you want right now but to me they have all of the charm of Toronto's post-war bungalows which I detest.
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Old Posted Oct 27, 2020, 7:19 PM
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Originally Posted by torontodrew View Post
first of all i never "assumed" i asked a question. And for structures built between 1890-and 1920 most look like they were designed in the 1950's.
Urban and dense they are but i find them to be soulless structures the streetwalls they create look sterile and depressing. The lack of a break between them doesn't help. What don't you understand about not everybody not liking the same thing?????????

I do appreciate the genius of them having no internal staircases making for better layouts, and i do like that they are a quirky relic of montreal's past urban planning but the esthetics of the vast majority of them don't do it for me. Is that ok by you? Am i allowed to have an opinion???????



You can feel free to post as many pictures you want right now but to me they have all of the charm of toronto's post-war bungalows which i detest.
lol
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Old Posted Oct 27, 2020, 7:19 PM
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They most definitely add a lot to the unique character of the city.

Even some of the criticisms are part of the mystique. Upon seeing them, an Aussie friend who was visiting asked: "who the fuck thought it was a good idea to stick outdoor staircases on houses in this climate?" and then burst out laughing.
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