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Old Toronto Houses

by Tom Cruickshank and John de Visser

Though Tom Cruickshank and John de Visser’s Old Toronto Houses focuses exclusively on the domestic architecture of the city that Canada loves to hate, any reader interested in the ideas and building styles that preoccupied Canada’s pioneering architects will find much to appreciate here. The towns that sprang up in the early days of the Dominion were very much beholden to the architectural heritage of the British and French settlers who built and designed them, but over time some distinctly indigenous styles began to emerge.

John de Visser’s photos highlight the Toronto houses’ beautiful brickwork (the city is built on a clay bed, so firing enough quality bricks was never a problem), cozy English gardens, and quirky architectural trills, including Romanesque arches, squat towers, and terra cotta accents. As Cruickshank points out in his introduction, Toronto does not have an “old quarter” like Montreal’s, so trying to finding the city’s historical treasures can be tricky. To that end, besides doing an obviously thorough search for distinctive and representative houses throughout the city, the authors have included the addresses of every house featured in the book, should readers wish to take their own tours.