Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Monday, April 19, 2010


I have intense memories of several months spent in a tidy neighbourhood like this one, comprised of hundreds of houses just like these when I was just five years old. Coming from a large farm and a rambling old farmhouse, I found the uniformity and density of the neighbourhood overwhelming. Shy and introvert, I found the hundreds of kids and their boisterous social ease disconcerting. Although I had longed to go to school, the city kindergarten where I spent two months with my cousin Terry was full of unexplained terrors. My lovely English war-bride aunt and my Hasty P's veteran uncle had their own troubles but they took me in nevertheless, while my mother was pregnant and very ill. I spent three months with them and by the time I returned home my little brother had arrived and stolen their hearts.
Neighbourhoods such as this were created after WWII for returning military men and their families, through the Veteran's Land Act. The houses were prefabricated, neat one-and-a-half storey clapboard, with steep roofs, shallow eaves, multi-paned sash windows and no dormers. The busy neighbourhoods had street names like Montgomery and Victory. Life changed with the building of these little homes; the working class now had its own home. Suburban living had begun.
Someone once told me that the homes in one of the Victory neighbourhoods in our city were finished in surplus aircraft aluminum - unpainted I assume, as she tells me the area was called Tintown! Must check into that.

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