Article published in Canada's Stamp Details (Vol. 7 No 5; September/October,
Home Sweet Home
Since the days when only Natives inhabited our vast land, Canadians have been
adapting to their local environment, using locally available materials to construct
dwellings and build communities. Today, Canada is recognized as a world leader in the
housing industry. To trace the evolution of Canadian housing, Canada Post will issue a
pane of nine domestic-rate Housing stamps this September. Each stamp focuses on one of
Canada's celebrated housing structures, with images that evoke the social, environmental,
cultural and technological contexts in which these homes were built.
Canada's Native peoples adapted their housing to the local climate. The Algonquians built
wigwams of branches and bark coverings. The Iroquois constructed longhouses - also made of
poles and bark - which housed five to ten related families. The Inuit built three types of
structures: wooden dwellings in the Mackenzie Delta; stone, sod and whale bone dwellings
in the Eastern and High Arctic where wood was scarce; and igloos when temporary winter
homes were needed. Along the Pacific, Northwest Coast Indians built large plank houses for
extended families of 20 to 30 members.
The European Influence
Though log cabins are the best known type of housing among European settlers, there were
several others as well. Scottish "crofters" or tenant farmers sometimes built
stone huts. French immigrants built farmhouses using a structure that came to be called
"Red River Frame" or "Hudson's Bay Company Frame." Settlers on the
plains used the land itself, cutting and layering sods much like a bricklayer would use
clay bricks. Called "soddies," these dwellings were warm in winters and cool in
summers but tended to be dark, leaky and a haven for insects.
Early Canadian houses reflected the influence of settlers from France, Britain and New
England. Across Canada, several distinct types of regional houses cropped up: the wooden
rowhouses of St. John's, Newfoundland; the stone houses with Scottish "dormers"
of Halifax, Nova Scotia; the distinctly Ontarian brick homes, and the Quebec farmhouses
with their steeply pitched roofs.
Preserving Our Heritage
Heritage Preservation Housing
While technology takes the Canadian housing industry in new directions, Heritage Canada
seeks to preserve its history. The Ontario Heritage Foundation is a not-for-profit agency
of the Government of Ontario dedicated to preserving, protecting and promoting Ontario's
heritage for all of us to enjoy now and for others to experience in the future. More than
one million buildings in Canada located in cities, towns and in the countryside were built
before 1940. Most are homes, many now recognized as heritage buildings - officially
protected by provincial and federal legislation.
High-density dwelling patterns, common in Britain and on the European continent long
before the first North American settlements, were transplanted by early settlers to
Canada's first urban centers: Quebec, Montréal and Halifax. This type of housing served
Canadians well in those days before the introduction of public transportation. Row houses
- side-by-side dwellings sharing common walls - allowed people of all income levels to
live close to work, and maximized urban lot space, while multiple housing - buildings with
two or more self-contained suites - was very cost-effective for less affluent families. A
wide variety of multiple-dwelling houses are still found in Canadian cities.
Made to Order
Canada was an early leader both in the construction of homes from highly processed wood
products, and in the advancement of prefabricated wood housing. The prefab homes
introduced by the British Columbia Mills, Timber and Trading Company of Vancouver were a
significant contribution to the evolution of Canadian architecture. Prefabs existed before
those of B.C. Mills, but these earlier efforts were flimsy and difficult to heat. B.C.
Mills' superior offerings were shipped by rail, with pieces numbered and pre-painted.
Buyers could assemble their homes in only a few days without professional assistance. Some
of these dwellings still stand in Western Canada, mostly in the vicinity of Vancouver.
Shelter from the Storm
During World War II, Victory Homes were introduced to house employees of defence-related
industries. Partially prefabricated, Victory Homes were available in two models: bungalow
or one-and-a-half storey. Only 245 square metres in area (800 square feet), each had only
one bathroom, a small kitchen, no basement and no furnace. Updated and renovated, many
Victory Homes are still part of Canada's architectural landscape today.
The Dawn of the Suburb
Planned Community Housing
Shortly after World War II, Don Mills, Ontario emerged as Canada's first corporate suburb.
A landscape architect named Macklin Hancock was instrumental in the design. Along with a
team of fellow architects, he introduced key concepts for planned community housing:
neighborhoods, a discontinuous road system, a profusion of green space, new house forms
and new lot configurations. When Hancock's plan emerged as a success, other developers
quickly adopted his concepts. By 1970, the planning of every Canadian city was dominated
by the Hancock formula.
As we approach the end of the 20th century, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
(CMHC), the federal government body responsible for overseeing housing in Canada, is
pursuing a progressive vision of housing for Canadians called Healthy Housing. The program
aims to promote occupant health, enhance energy efficiency, improve the efficient use of
natural resources, and encourage environmental responsibility while ensuring the
affordability of housing for Canadians.
On the occasion of the Foundation's 25th anniversary, Canada Post
salutes its valuable efforts and recognizes, too, the more than 50 years of service which
the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has provided to Canadian dwellers
across the country.
||9 x 45¢
||Pane of 9 stamps ($4.05)
|Date of Issue
||23 September 1998
|Last Day of Sale
||22 September 1999
||Peter Scott (Q30 Design)
||40 mm x 32 mm (horizontal)
||Lithography (eleven colours)
||General tagged, four sides
|Official First Day Cover