Photoessay: Bramalea Housing in the 1960s

As some of you may be aware, I also publish another blog on Mid-Century Modern housing in Ottawa (Mid-Century Modern Ottawa). What I have always found striking about Bramalea is the conservatism of the majority of the houses built in the 1960s – even though it was the peak of the Mid-Century Modern period. I have always felt that this was a result of the almost utopian dream of Bramalea as a suburban, or semi-rural arcadia: a place where there was no traffic, no smog…where the grass was greener, and the snow was whiter, and the willows didn’t weep.

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Even the the names of the floor plans conjure up visions of the countryside, some more literally than others:

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The visual language behind the houses and the advertising at the time often depict open spaces, country living and houses with wagon wheels on the front lawns:

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Most of the houses are a sort of modern/traditional hybrid with shuttered windows and/or porches paired with modern picture windows.

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Often the picture windows are so huge, they suggest some sort of pastoral view…but in reality just stare back at an equally large picture window across the street!

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Low-slung roof lines make the houses appear as if they are sprawling ranch houses – even if they are semi-detached or two-storey designs.

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This image from the 1958 Master Plan shows some architecturally modern houses…but few of such houses were actually built in Bramalea. My theory is that Bramalea buyers wanted a house that was new, yet still had details that were traditional, reminiscent of  a country house. Space-age modern houses did not necessarily fit in to this dream for early Bramalea residents.

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The Catalina design was perhaps one of the most Mid-Century Modern of the designs offered for sale in the A-Section, but only a handful were built, so perhaps it was not popular with buyers.

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Even fewer of this design were built…

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This one house in Bramalea Woods stands out as a great example of Mid-Century Modern design.

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 The Chatelaine Design Home 64 is another great example of Mid-Century Modern design. As cutting-edge as the house was, it does not appear that much of the architectural design features found their way in to other Bramalea houses at the time.

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As Bramalea grew and matured the architecture of the housing changed too. The advertising for new housing also became less about living in an almost utopian countryside, and the housing actually became a little more daring:

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But more on that in an upcoming photoessay on 1970s housing in Bramalea…stay tuned!

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