Styles at-a-glance: A quick guide to identifying Canada’s architectural styles


Detached Bay-and-Gable
Southern, Eastern and Central Ontario

By the mid-19th century, English Canada’s middle-class was expanding at a rapid pace. In the cities of Southern and Central Ontario, graduates of Upper Canadian universities went wild for one particular type of architecture–bay-and-gable.

Like most Ontario houses built between 1890 and 1930, bay-and-gables are, almost universally, detached red bricks. Houses built in the style can be recognized by the large bay window that stretches as least a third, and frequently more than halfway across the house’s front wall, set underneath a distinct section of gabled roof.

Because these houses offered pedestrians with a rather impressive view of a house’s interior, they became associated with the show-offy tastes of Upper Canada’s balooning middle-class. While the older orders may have disdained the style’s supposed celebration of bourgeois affluence, the style quickly became an iconic one in Toronto. The association between the style and new money has waned almost entirely since the 1960s.

It is also a feature of other Southern, Central and Eastern Ontario cities, with notable examples in the more affluent parts of London, Peterborough and Windsor.


Row and Semi-detatched Bay-and-Gables


Not long bay-and-gable houses became popular with wealthier Ontarians, the look was disseminated into the design of buildings for less affluent Ontarians.

In the poorer neighbourhoods of Toronto, where two-family homes were frequently built on a single lot, a slightly modified version of the bay-and-gable became ubiquitous.

While some row housing was built in the style, duplexes were more common.

The design, which split buildings into two residences through the main wall in the middle of the house, is now highly regarded–and has been since the 1980s.

Unfortunately for today’s owners, the original construction companies responsible for these beautiful buildings did not build with posterity at the front of their mind. As a result, the costs of restoring these buildings can run high.




Georgian and Neo-Georgian

1714-1830, 1910-
Eastern Canada, Ontario, British Columbia

Aficionados will squirm when they hear the term ‘Georgian architecture.’ Able to describe any building constructed between 1714 and 1830, the term is far to broad to be meaningful–at least outside of Canada. Inside Great White North, however, it is a little easier to pin down a definition.

Here, the term refers to the columned neoclassical buildings constructed toward the end of the period in Upper Canada, West Mount and the Maritimes. While very few Georgian-era houses remain standing in Canada, those that have lasted are, without exception, of great architectural importance.



Tudor Revival style
Across Canada

Like its Ben Johnson plays and black plague remedies, Tudor-era architecture is, perhaps, one of those aspects of 15th century life best left forgotten. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

Found in every one of Canada’s great cities, these monstrosities pair white stucco walls with black timber accents.

A freakish off-shoot of the Gothic revival style, the Tudor revival found its way into Canadian architectural blueprints in the second-half of the 19th century. Since then, proponents of the style have stubbornly refused to bow to prevailing views on good taste.

Heritage Homes salutes the brave owner of a mock-Tudor in Moore Park, Toronto, who painter over the white portions of the house in a garish yellow. While the style’s enthusiasts might have been irritated, the city’s more tasteful denizens considered the move to be just desserts.



Queen Anne Revival Style

Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia


The austere look of Queen Anne revival buildings was, for too long, lost on today’s homeowners.

Difficult to define, yet immediately recognizable, the Toronto’s Queen Anne revival buildings are, without question, the city’s most exciting homes.

Meant to emulate the old-world follies of the late-Stuart period, Queen Anne revival designs are quite removed from the period of the monarch after whom they are named.

The common strain among representative buildings is their asymmetrical façades. Beyond that, however, efforts to find consistency quickly turn into a pig’s breakfast.

Some have hexagonal towers that jut out at precarious angles.

Others feature great domes of veridgreen-covered copper domes. Gabling, while frequent, is not found universally. Similarly, wood-tiled roofs may be indicative of the style, but many examples do not include them.

There is one unfailing rule-of-thumb for identifying them. If a building looks like it should be home to a coven of witches, it is likely a prime example of Queen Anne revival.

While the style became popular in the United States during the late 19th century, in Canada, it reached its zenith around 1910. While the best examples may exist in Wychwood Park, Yorkville and the Annex also have their share of iconic Queen Anne Revival homes.

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