Welcome to the Canadian Architecture blog!

Welcome to the first Canadian Architecture blog brought to you by the Malcolmites! We hope this blog will encourage those interested in Canadian architecture to talk (or more specifically, type) about architecture in Canada.

Featured Building

Featured Building
William Eckhardt House, Unionville, Ontario (1852)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Paris Plains Church: A Quaint Essay in Regency Gothic

Located approximately 3 km north of Paris, Ontario, you'll find Paris Plains Church, originally called the West Dumphries Wesleyan Chapel.

The chapel was constructed by volunteer labour in 1845, under the supervision of Levi Boughton, an American builder from New York that introduced the use of cobblestone exteriors to the Paris area circa 1839. In Ontario, cobblestone became a localized building material specific to the Paris area. Examples include: Kilton Cottage (1857), St. James Anglican Church (1839), the Sowden Home and Dispensary (1840), and the Levi Boughton House (1951-52).

Paris Plains Church is a lovely example of the Regency style of Gothic architecture, one of the earliest forms of Gothic to be used in Ontario. As a style, Regency Gothic grew out of the neoclassical tradition. At Paris Plains, for example, the general plan of the building is neoclassical, but the details are a romanticized form of gothic.The vernacular preaching hall plan with classical proportions is directly influenced by neoclassicism. The entrance is placed centrally on the facade with windows on either side, classical quoins define the corners, and the roof is shallowly pitched with a return cornice, creating something similar to the broken pediment of a classical temple facade.
Like other Regency Gothic buildings in Ontario, the gothic elements (the windows), are purely ornamental and are not rooted in the medieval gothic tradition. In fact, the intersecting muntin bars and the sash windows are taken from domestic sources.
The next time you're travelling in Brant, stop to see Paris Plains Church; it's located in a beautiful park-like setting, a perfect spot for a picnic lunch.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Building of the Week: Holy Trinity, Quebec City

Our building of the week is the earliest Anglican cathedral in all of Canada.  Completed in 1804, this church is a beacon of Englishness in a French town, with its use of the quintessentially-English model of James Gibbs' St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London of 1726.  Churches based on this model can be found all over the colonies and we have documented many ourselves.

The interior is, as might be expected from the exterior, faithful to the interior of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, with its balconies, classicizing plaster work and Palladian eastern window.
Above: interior looking east
While the exterior appears lavish in its use of ashlar masonry (large, smooth, square-cut stones), upon closer inspection it is revealed that the surface is really imitation ashlar:
Above: detail of "ashlar masonry" on west facade
Real stone, however, was used in some areas for emphasis, notably for the giant Ionic order pilasters and the enclosing arches on the west facade.
Above: the variety of materials used on the west facade
This is a common money-saving technique for buildings of all kinds at the time: spend money on the prominent features and use less expensive materials for other areas, making the building look like it cost more to make than it really did.

If you find yourself in Quebec City, be sure to check out this building - it's only a stone's throw from the Chateau Frontenac and is definitely worth your time.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Have you heard?

Have you heard? The Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada has a new blog!  The purpose of this blog is to keep members up to date on current events with the Society as well as happenings in each province.

Check out the new blog at http://ssacnews.wordpress.com/

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Building of the Week: Worker's house in Arvida

This week's building of the week is a worker's house in Arvida, Quebec that we had the pleasure of touring last week. The house is a small two-bedroom house that must be put into context to understand its true value.

Erected in the group of houses built for Alcoa Aluminum after 1927, this small house was part of a newfangled idea on the part of the company's owners to give each worker a house of his own.  Company towns prior to this provided cramped spaces for workers, so the idea to provide separate single-family dwellings for each employee was quite radical.  Since the average family size at the time would have been much larger, a private house on this scale would have been incredibly appealing to workers.

The town boasts that it was built in 135 days, a feat which was achieved by the use of prefabricated elements to construct the houses, much like the assembly line ideals of Ford.