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Housing Canada

Article published in Canada's Stamp Details (Vol. 7 No 5; September/October, 1998)

Housing Canada
Home Sweet Home

ince 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.

Humble Beginnings
Native Housing

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
Settler Housing

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.

Distinct Societies
Regional Housing

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.

Urban Realities
Multiple-Unit Housing

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
Prefabricated Housing

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
Veterans' Housing

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.

Technological Strides
Innovative Housing

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.

Denomination 9 x 45¢
Layout Pane of 9 stamps ($4.05)
Product No. 403352107
Date of Issue 23 September 1998
Last Day of Sale 22 September 1999
Design Peter Scott (Q30 Design)
Illustration Clancy Gibson
Printer Ashton Potter
Quantity 9,000,000
Dimensions 40 mm x 32 mm (horizontal)
Perforation 13+
Gum Type P.V.A.
Paper Manufacturer Coated Papers
Printing Lithography (eleven colours)
Tagging General tagged, four sides
Official First Day Cover
(OFDC) Cancellation
Product No.