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Architectural styles unique to Toronto

Memph

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It's often been said that the bay and gable victorians are unique to Toronto, but being a google streetview addict, it looks like there are a few other styles that are very common in Toronto but much less so (if at all) in other cities.

Here are a few styles I noticed were very common:


This is a house in Riverdale, I call it the Porch & Dormer style. They are almost always 3 storeys, with the main floor a few steps above grade and often have bay windows, and most commonly in the semi detached format. In the newer neighbourhoods (ex in Oakwood-Vaughan), you'll have homes that are similar, but without the 3rd story dormers (but often with a gable) and with 2nd story bay windows.


This one's in Cabbagetown, and I call it the Georgian Mansard style. There and rows of these little homes in many neighbourhoods including Cabbagetown, Riverdale, Corktown and Trinity Bellwoods. They are always 2 stories, with mansard roofs and 2 cute little dormers with the walls being almost always red brick with a semi-circle of white brick around the main floor window, and the main floor being often at grade. Sometimes the main floor window is a small bay window.


These shops on Queen West in Parkdale are basically the retail version of the Georgian Mansard homes, with a third floor. You can find similar buildings on many commercial streets.


These are in Riverdale, they're tiny workers cottages with a little gable. In this case, they have similar brickwork to the Georgian Mansard homes, but that's not always the case, and they don't always have that little gable but I find it's what sets them out from workers cottages elsewhere. They're common in many of the old working class neighbourhoods.


These are in Trinity Bellwoods, I call shared gables after their main feature. They often have a fairly plain facade. While this one has a porch, window in the gable and dormers, they often don't. You'll find these scattered across much of the former City of Toronto.


I'm not sure what to call these, maybe the "large dormer 2-story"? They're always 2 story, typically semi-detached but sometimes in fully detached homes, have porches (although these have been walled up). The dormers are made of siding, take up most of the width of the roof and the top of the dormers typically are gently sloped. They're pretty common in the early 20th century neighbourhoods of Toronto and the old parts of the inner suburbs, these were in Earlscourt.

Anyways, it seems like most houses in the old parts of Toronto have lots of gables, porches, bay windows, dormers and of course, brick.

Are there any other particular styles that you find scream "Toronto"?
 

Memph

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I think you might find that the term "Ontario Cottage" can account for the single-story worker's cottage type (or even, in "elevated" form, the semi illustrated afterward)

And a newer and very familiar archetype: the "Toronto Special"
I didn't realize those cottages existed elsewhere in Ontario, but I guess I'll start noticing them now if I pay attention. There's quite a few on Robinson Street.

I found the Toronto Special in the article, but I think most of the "Toronto Specials" are lighter in colour, like these. I'm trying to remember if I saw any in the 905 suburbs, or elsewhere in Ontario. There are some that look very similar in Waterloo, but not quite the same.
 

Jamziz

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The older parts of the beaches have a plethora of these "Porch and Dormer" style.
 

junctionist

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These are generally local variations on overarching architectural styles of the time. The Bay and Gable is more unique than all of these for its form: the narrow facade with a sharp, Gothic-inspired gable and a bay dominating the facade. Then there's the culture of ornamentation: bargeboard, polychromatic brickwork, stained glass, and terracotta tiles which always appear in similar places on the facade. Nonetheless, it's interesting to examine these styles.

It's often been said that the bay and gable victorians are unique to Toronto, but being a google streetview addict, it looks like there are a few other styles that are very common in Toronto but much less so (if at all) in other cities.

Here are a few styles I noticed were very common:


This is a house in Riverdale, I call it the Porch & Dormer style. They are almost always 3 storeys, with the main floor a few steps above grade and often have bay windows, and most commonly in the semi detached format. In the newer neighbourhoods (ex in Oakwood-Vaughan), you'll have homes that are similar, but without the 3rd story dormers (but often with a gable) and with 2nd story bay windows.
This style shows Craftsman and Edwardian influences. It's a style that's somewhat bland and boring though I suspect that these are comfortable houses to live. They emanate warm, unpretentious comfort. I wouldn't be surprised to see similar houses in other cities.


This one's in Cabbagetown, and I call it the Georgian Mansard style. There and rows of these little homes in many neighbourhoods including Cabbagetown, Riverdale, Corktown and Trinity Bellwoods. They are always 2 stories, with mansard roofs and 2 cute little dormers with the walls being almost always red brick with a semi-circle of white brick around the main floor window, and the main floor being often at grade. Sometimes the main floor window is a small bay window.
This variation might be vernacular, but it's an adaptation of the Second Empire style for modest housing of the time. Unlike Bay and Gables, there aren't enough of these houses to forge a unique style.


These shops on Queen West in Parkdale are basically the retail version of the Georgian Mansard homes, with a third floor. You can find similar buildings on many commercial streets.
It's the Second Empire style adapted for commercial blocks. One might find similar buildings in many other cities.


These are in Riverdale, they're tiny workers cottages with a little gable. In this case, they have similar brickwork to the Georgian Mansard homes, but that's not always the case, and they don't always have that little gable but I find it's what sets them out from workers cottages elsewhere. They're common in many of the old working class neighbourhoods.
Ontario farmhouses in the city, built to more urban specifications: narrow frontage, and as rowhouses.


These are in Trinity Bellwoods, I call shared gables after their main feature. They often have a fairly plain facade. While this one has a porch, window in the gable and dormers, they often don't. You'll find these scattered across much of the former City of Toronto.
These are somewhat strange, but they possibly represent a sort of transition between Victorian and Craftsman and Edwardian styles.


I'm not sure what to call these, maybe the "large dormer 2-story"? They're always 2 story, typically semi-detached but sometimes in fully detached homes, have porches (although these have been walled up). The dormers are made of siding, take up most of the width of the roof and the top of the dormers typically are gently sloped. They're pretty common in the early 20th century neighbourhoods of Toronto and the old parts of the inner suburbs, these were in Earlscourt.
These look like Craftsman houses, common in North America in the early 20th century. Many in Toronto are bland, though it might be because of renovations over the decades. Bloor West Village has some beautifully restored examples, for instance on Kennedy Avenue just north of Runnymede Station.

Are there any other particular styles that you find scream "Toronto"?
The Annex House, conceived by E.J. Lennox. Of course, they characterize the Annex, but you can also find them in various old Toronto neighbourhoods such as Parkdale, the Annex, and Rosedale. Bold Romanesque arches, elegant Queen Anne retails, the combination of sandstone and brick, ambitious terracotta tiles, and the emphasis on broad attics in the exterior architecture makes it an excellent and unique style.
 
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Urban Shocker

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Ah, numbers 54 and 56 Langley - an avenue named after architect Henry Langley, I believe. The bigger houses at the Broadview end were built first, starting in the 1890s, and by the time they built at Logan, around 1907, ( the Love brothers developed a plot of land that stretched up to Riverdale Avenue ) the homes were smaller and mostly semis. The ones pictured are about half way.
 

Ladies Mile

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The Annex House, conceived by E.J. Lennox. Of course, they characterize the Annex, but you can also find them in various old Toronto neighbourhoods such as Parkdale, the Annex, and Rosedale. Bold Romanesque arches, elegant Queen Anne retails, the combination of sandstone and brick, ambitious terracotta tiles, and the emphasis on broad attics in the exterior architecture makes it an excellent and unique style.
Oddly enough, of all the types cited, I find the "Annex houses" the least imaginative from a purely local viewpoint. While often of high-quality design, they are no different from the sort of thing being constructed in various American cities of the period, having developed from a mish-mash of (mostly misunderstood) Queen Anne and Richardsonian elements.
 

ShonTron

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thecharioteer

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Unique to Toronto is also the style that has emerged in Forest Hill in the past decade which could be called "Neo-Classical/Russian Plutocrat/Nouveau-Riche" as practiced by Brennan/Wengle/Gluckstein, characterized by abundant use of stucco and limestone, french doors, rococco metal-work, underground parking, the demolition of an Eden Smith house, the avoidance of any architectural details post-1900, and Committee of Adjustment/OMB hearings:















 
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Urban Shocker

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Bloating and pretentiousness aren't unique to Toronto, though. Nor are those characteristics unique to Toronto at this point in time - the more exclusive residential arteries of late Victorian and Edwardian Hogtown were clogged up with stubborn boluses of such muck designed exclusively for the nouveau riche.
 

Tewder

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The Victorians loved the gothic and borrowed faux medieval details but this somehow seems to be a far cry from the lazy expressions of 'classy-ness' above.
 

thecharioteer

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Bloating and pretentiousness aren't unique to Toronto, though. Nor are those characteristics unique to Toronto at this point in time - the more exclusive residential arteries of late Victorian and Edwardian Hogtown were clogged up with stubborn boluses of such muck designed exclusively for the nouveau riche.
You're right, of course, about these Belle Epoque confections not being unique to Toronto; certain areas of Dallas and Houston, like Highland Park and River Oaks rival Forest Hill in this style. What I find interesting about Forest Hill is the contradiction between neighbours always objecting to the next-big-thing, and the collective refusal of the neighbourhood to support a Heritage Conservation District designation (something that Rosedale accepted). The loss of so many of the (undesignated) Eden Smith houses with nary an objection underscores the ambivalence.

As far as "boluses of such muck"; surely you're not speaking of Jarvis, Sherbourne and St. George with the Gooderham, Massey, Cawthra homesteads? Those avenues will always have a certain endearing "Meet Me in St. Louis" vibe that will never happen on Dunvegan.....
 

Ladies Mile

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You're right, of course, about these Belle Epoque confections not being unique to Toronto; certain areas of Dallas and Houston, like Highland Park and River Oaks rival Forest Hill in this style. What I find interesting about Forest Hill is the contradiction between neighbours always objecting to the next-big-thing, and the collective refusal of the neighbourhood to support a Heritage Conservation District designation (something that Rosedale accepted). The loss of so many of the (undesignated) Eden Smith houses with nary an objection underscores the ambivalence.

As far as "boluses of such muck"; surely you're not speaking of Jarvis, Sherbourne and St. George with the Gooderham, Massey, Cawthra homesteads? Those avenues will always have a certain endearing "Meet Me in St. Louis" vibe that will never happen on Dunvegan.....
There is something so undeniably awful about the very first house you posted that it's almost good--like an opera set that wandered offstage and is currently hunkered down humming the opening bars of some Wagner atrocity to itself.
 

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