Fortress Bramalea – an editorial

When Bramalea was first built, it was designed to have a sense of community, have housing for all “walks of life”, and to be a safe place to raise a family. As a part of the design, greenbelts interconnect the various neighbourhoods in the early phases, and they still provide routes to schools, recreation centres, places of worship and shopping. Houses backing on to these greenbelts connect with the surrounding neighbourhood on two fronts – the street and the greenbelt.

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Toronto Daily Star. March 2, 1968.

Yet, somewhere along the line this sense of a larger interconnected community did not carry through in certain housing developments, so much so that walls were built around a number of pockets within Bramalea. This is especially the case for some of the townhouse complexes and towers built in the 1980s and 1990s. I do not mean to be critical of these enclosed enclaves (they are noteworthy designs in their own right), but I feel as though they do not align with the larger fabric of what Bramalea was supposed to be.

 

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Carriage Walk condo. Toronto Star. September 12, 1987.

By design, these walled and gated complexes are either condominiums or rentals. Bramalea has a rich history of these types of housing developments, but they were designed and built in a very different way in the early years. For example, on Balmoral Drive at Dixie Road are Ontario’s first condominium townhouses. These units are completely open to the street and every much a part of the community as the detached and semi-detached houses in the area. Likewise, Bramalea’s first tower, Clark House (at 78 Braemar Drive), is open to the surrounding neighbourhood. There are fences on the sides and back to define the property boundary and create some privacy, but the front of the building is still open to the street.

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Townhouses on Balmoral Drive. Some are condos and some are rentals. Courtesy of Google Maps.

With time, as condominium complexes added common amenities like pools and playgrounds there was a movement to define the boundaries with fences on all sides and even restricting access. Even so, there are ways to strike a balance between defining the boundaries, but also in staying connected to the greater neighbourhood beyond. Many of the fences around these complexes are metal and visually open, thus defining the boundary, but still not fully cutting off the houses within.

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The Briar Path complex has metal fences that still visually connect the houses to the surrounding area. Notice how the units on the left do not even have wooden privacy fences in their rear yards. Courtesy of Google Maps.

Interestingly, The “Gates of Bramalea” complex has a gate posts and a wooden fence surrounding it, but the fence drops down to a lower height at the entry linking the houses to the community beyond.

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The Gates of Bramalea at 475 Bramalea Road. Courtesy of Google Maps.

The Village in Bramalea townhouse condominium complexes in the G-Section have outdoor pools and playgrounds, yet they still manage to connect to the surrounding neighbourhood by turning the fronts of the houses on the edge towards the main street.

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The Village in Bramalea. Builder brochure, c. 1975.

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The Village in Bramalea. Courtesy of Google Maps.

Conversely, the two Carriage Walk condominium townhouse complexes, built years later in the H-Section, turn their backs to the neighbourhood and have large walls surrounding the edges with “no trespassing” signs at the entry points.

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Carriage Walk. It is hard to even see the houses. Courtesy of Google Maps.

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Carriage Walk entry post. Photo by author.

The most disconected developments in Bramalea are the condominium towers with gatehouses. These gated enclaves restrict access by the public, yet the residents in the towers can visually monitor the public realm from their heights. There is something fortress-like about the whole concept, cutting off the residents from the fabric of the surrounding community.

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Laurelcrest Condo gatehouse. Courtesy of Google Maps.

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Bellair condominiums gatehouse. Courtesy of Google Maps.

Instead of being connected through greenbelts to greater Bramalea and its public recreational amenities, like the earlier phases of the city, these walled and gated communities have their own private parklands and amenities.

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Toronto Star. April 1, 1989.

I am curious as to why things changed along the line and these types of housing developments were built in Bramalea. Was it simply a marketing tool by the builder? Is it more prestigious to have a wall or gatehouse? Is there truly a need for security in Bramalea? Are these complexes actually safer?

I am curious to know what my readers think, so please feel free to comment!

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Toronto Star. April 19, 1986.

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Toronto Star. November 19, 1988.

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Times have changed…and so have standard features in houses.

Today when you buy a new house the builder may highlight their standard features such as hardwood floors, 9-foot ceilings or granite counters – but in the past standard features for houses were quite different. In some cases the features that were advertised may now be viewed as negatives. I pulled a handful of old marketing material for houses in Bramalea, and here is what I found – hopefully some of these will take you down memory lane!

Also, you can click on the neighbourhood names to link to the full posts on each area.

a

Advertisement for houses in the A-Section (early 1960s). At the time wall paneling was a highlight and storm windows were common.

aa 65-67

Southgate Village in the D-Section (1965-1967). I am actually impressed that the houses came with shrubs! Some designs came with electric heating and carports…both of which may not seem like highlights today.

b 69-72

Bramalea Townhouses in parts of the C, D and F-Sections (1970-1972). Drapery tracks were included!

c

Westgate in the B-Section (1964-1965). I am not sure what a “Hollywood style vanity” is. At the time coloured bathroom fixtures and linoleum tiles were considered good standard features.

d

Bramalea in Southdown Estates in Mississauga (c. 1972) – although similar plans were built in Bramalea. Aluminum siding was worthy of mention.

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Also from Southdown Estates. Formica and Arborite were seen as a plus as they are easy-to-clean!

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A final Southdown Estates example. Vinyl asbestos flooring! Eek! I am not sure that similar models built in Bramalea had this type of flooring…but it is possible.

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Bay Meadows in the M-Section (1976), and the design was likely also built in Other areas of Bramalea. What is a “post-formed” laminate counter?

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The Strand in the J and N-Sections (1981-1983). Quality broadloom, vinyl flooring and aluminium siding were all seen as worthy of mention as standard features.

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Blue Mount Estates in the L-Section (1980-1982). A paneled recreation room was seen as a good thing (I remember the one we had when I was a kid!), as well as a dropped ceiling with florescent lighting in the kitchen (remember the so-called “Florida ceilings”!).

i showcase 2000 82

Showcase 2000 in the section without a letter (1982). What is a “hammered Swedish steel picket”? Also, remember when dishwashers were not standard and houses came with a cupboard that you could remove to add one if you wanted.

j columbus bay 83-84

Columbus Bay in the P-Section (1982-1985). Here upgrades included stippled ceilings, arborite or formica counters, a smoke detector (just one), and a coloured exhaust hood fan (I wonder how many colours they offered?).

l 1988 NEW

Nortonville Estates West in the L-Section (1988). Back when having a bidet and wet bar were popular.

Thirty or so years from now I am sure we will look back and muse about the standard features in houses built today!

 

Industrial Bramalea

Bramalea was created as a self-sufficient city, meaning that it was designed to have places to both live and work (as well as places to shop, learn, play,worship, etc.). Even before ground was broken for Bramalea the founders actively sought businesses to locate in the city. For these businesses came the promise of a workforce located within the same community, and potential buyers might have been wooed by the promise of places to work within walking distance. As such, there were two main marketing approaches for early Bramalea, one to get people to move to the new city and the other to get businesses to locate in it.

Below is a brochure from 1959 designed to attract industries to Bramalea’s industrial parks. It has some unique forecasts and statistics regarding Bramalea – even before the first family moved in!
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Below are two images from another marketing piece aimed at industries – although this shows the industrial park well underway.

The map below lists the industries that had located in Bramalea c. 1970. It also shows the development of the residential areas of Bramalea at that time.industrial map

This air photo shows an earlier image of the industrial park as well as a great view of Bramalea’s first neighbourhoods – all within walking distance to potential places of employment.industrial photo

Design Controls in Early Bramalea

Below is an article describing on how by 1962 one builder was put in charge of the houses in Bramalea as it was thought that the area needed to be more cohesive and for the houses to compliment each other aesthetically.001

Canadian Builder, May 1962

This next article was shown on an earlier post, but at the beginning and ending of the text it outlines how important it was to consider the colours and design of the houses in Bramalea. Notice that the architect is also the president of Westbury Homes as stated in the first article in this post.

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Bramalea Guardian, October 15, 1964

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Toronto Daily Star, May 20, 1961

An aspect of the A-Section that has always stood out for me is the fact that there is such a diverse variety of housing designs and that they are all intermixed in the area. I have always thought that this made the area more interesting. The image above depicts a particular plan in the A-Section which was one of the few daringly modern designs built in 1960s Bramalea. When Westbury Homes took over, these types of designs were not built again, and all of the houses were more traditionally-inspired, and such sweeping asymmetrical  roof lines were a thing of the past (until the zero lot-line houses built in the 1970s). Today, mid-century modern designs are celebrated, but there was a time where these types of houses were seen as passé. Through the ups and downs of architecture, perhaps the more traditionally-inspired houses in Bramalea were a safe bet. What are your thoughts?

For those readers familiar with the A, B and C-Sections, I am curious to read your thoughts on how the houses look in these sections. Do you like the variety of the first phases (the A-Section), or prefer the later phases (B and C-Sections) where the houses are more similar in design?

Please use the “Leave a Reply” section below to voice your thoughts. This blog is meant to be interactive, so I am always happy to see readers’ comments, thoughts, stories, etc. on any posting.

Bramalea, circa 1972

Come join me on a trip in a time machine back to the year 1972 in Bramalea! Below is a document from that year with details on both the industrial and residential aspects of Bramalea – including 2 walking tours through the A to G sections and Bramalea Woods, plus price lists for developments active at the time. Some things are still the same, but so much has changed.

A special thank you to a blog reader for completing the missing pieces to this document for me. I had it on file but some pages were missing, so I was delighted when a reader sent me her version with all pages intact!

001 002 003 004 005 006 007 007a 008 009 010 011 012 013 014 015 016 017 018 019 020 021

Missing floor plans needed!

Hello BramaleaBlog readers! I wanted to take the time to thank you all for reading the blog and your comments, questions and stories. As you may have noticed in some of my postings, there are some plans that I am still missing for certain areas in Bramalea. I want to make this blog as complete as possible with all of the plans for houses in Bramalea. As such, below is a list of elusive plans that I do not have, and would love to share with readers. If you have any of the plans, please let me know at bramaleablog@gmail.com

I will continue to share my collection of plans, marketing materials, articles and insights on Bramalea in new posts – as I still have so much to share!

Here is the list, organised by letter section (I am shocked that it is so long, So please help me shorten it!):

A-Section:

– Any of the homes in the A-Section

B-Section:

– Bramalea Hamlet

– Townhouses on Briar Path

– Any of the detached and semi-detached houses not a part of Westgate

– Townhouses on Balmoral Drive

C-Section:

– Any of the plans for Bramalea-on-the-Park (there were a few builders who constructed houses in the area)

D-Section:

– Townhouses by Jannitt on Darras Court

– Any of the houses built under the H.O.M.E plan

E-Section:

– Any of the houses built under the H.O.M.E plan

– Townhouses on Enderby Crescent, Ellerslie Road, Ellis Drive and Enmount Drive

– Townhouses on Eden Park Drive

– Coventry Gardens

F-Section:

– Any of the houses built under the H.O.M.E plan

– The gates of Bramalea by Consolidated Building Corporation at 475 Bramalea Road

– California Club Townhouses by Bramalea Consolidated Developments

– Concept 3/Folkstone Terrace original marketing material/plans

G-Section:

– Plans built by Del-Zotto

– Bramble Tree Hamlet by Coventry

– Semi-detached houses built by Coventry

– Greenmount Gardens by Bramalea Consolidated Developments

– Cumberland Manor by Bramalea Consolidated Developments

– Northgate by Bramalea Consolidated Developments – I am missing the following plans: Maui, Viking, Florence, Kingston, Eldorado, Oakland.

– Zero lot-line houses and adjacent townhouses

H-Section: 

– Zero lot-line houses and adjacent townhouses (I have some, but am missing quite a few, and I have none of the townhouse plans)

– Houses on Heatherington Place

– Sierra condos by Bramalea Limited

J-Section:

– Plans by DelZotto

– Kimber Park by Bramalea Consolidated Developments

– Portland Estates by Bramalea Consolidated Developments

K-Section:

– Any of the condominium plans

L-Section: 

– Moore Park by Bramalea Limited

– Whitehall at Bramalea – I grew up on Longbourne Crescent, so I am desperate to have these plans!

– Bramalea Estates Semis by Bramalea Limited

– Bramalea Woods South by Wycliffe

– Eastcrest homes on Leander Street

– Laura Drive and Lime Ridge Drive by Bramalea Limited

– Ladin Drive and Lupin Court  by Bramalea Limited

– Lakeride Drive and Lehar Court by Fram Building Group

– The 30′ lot houses by Broles on Leeward Drive

– Courtyards of Bramalea Woods

– Townhouses on Vodden Street at Parr Lake South

M-Section:

– Poplar Developments: parts of Maidstone Crescent and Mansfield Street

– Eastcrest Homes: area surrounding Maitland Street

– Georgian Group in Bramalea Estates

– Houses on Madras Place (perhaps LCD Homes or Senna Brothers…not sure)

– Bay Meadows by Bramalea Consolidated Developments (I have some plans, but not all)

– Ashton Crescent

– Northcliffe Gardens by Kerbel/Darcel on Moregate Crescent

– Cedar Glen townhouses by Bramalea Limited on McMullen Crescent and Guildford Crescent

– The Village Three by Bramalea Limited on Morley Crescent

– Sadler Oaks by Ashton Woods homes on Borden Hill Crescent and Wolverton Crescent

– Townhouses on Middleton Way

– Townhouses on Carisbrooke Court

N-Section:

– The Classic Edition by Bramalea Limited

– Nasmith Park by Bramalea Limited

– Montara Woods by Bramalea Limited

– Houses on southeast part of Nanport Street (builder unknown)

– Garden Series plans and corner designs from Montage on the Park by Bramalea Limited

P-Section:

– Water’s Edge by Lakeview Homes

Section without a letter:

– Orchard Place by Kerbel/Darcel on Carleton Place and Franklin Court

– Ritz Towers by Bramalea Limited

 

Thanks once again!

The Clark House: Gateway to Bramalea

For 45 years the tall building at 78 Braemar Drive at the corner of Clark Boulevard has been a Bramalea landmark. It was built as the first high-rise building and was just the start of what would become a cluster of towers in the centre of Bramalea. Today, 36 towers between 9 and 28 floors dot the skyline.

For many, the building served as a gateway into Bramalea – a starting place to live before buying a house in the area. From the heights of the tower, residents could survey the city as it grew and changed with time.

This was certainly the case for my parents, who first lived in Clark House when they first decided to settle in Bramalea. They looked out across the apple orchards to the north, saved up money and waited until they found the perfect house. In the mid-1970s, that new house was the remote north-east part of Bramalea: the L-Section (Longbourne Crescent to be precise).

Even today, the Clark House stands out as a landmark on the edge of the B-Section. It is a symbol of a turning point in Bramalea – when it started to grow into a suburban city with towers reaching to the sky and a vibrant city centre core.

As the article below explains, the building was on the cutting edge of design when first built. It was “for people with a champagne taste and a beer budget”. I am guessing that most of the cutting edge and “wet look” design elements are gone, but I wonder if the artist-designed mural is still in the lobby?

Please feel free to share any Clark House stories/memories in the comments section at the bottom of the post!

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Toronto Daily Star, June 21, 1969

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Toronto Daily Star, August 30, 1969.

The 1958 Master Plan for Bramalea

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This proposed map is actually a dozen pages in to the 1958 Master Plan for Bramalea, but I thought it would be an interesting starting point to present the pages from the portfolio. There are actually two slightly different versions of the Master Plan from the same year – at this point I will present one of the two. Please click on any of the images to make them larger.

The map above depicts the first plan of the satellite city with limited detail. The A and C-Sections were built as depicted, and part of the B-Section is correct. The rest was not built as planned. The proposal shows letter sections all the way up to “Y”, with an I and an O-Section, the two letter sections left out of Bramalea as built. I always wonder why those letters were left out. Just east of Montreal, the City of Brossard also has letter sections, but does have an I-Section (which is industrial!) and an O-Section.

The Bramalea City Centre was built in the location planned, but the service industry section became the H-Section and the prestige industry on Queen Street did not get developed as such. The proposed G, S and T sections became industrial creating what now is a J-shaped industrial belt on the edges of Bramalea. Also notice the proposed golf course in the present day J and P-Sections. The 1969 Master Plan showed this proposed golf course relocated to the L and N-Sections…and was never actually built anywhere in Bramalea.

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It was proposed that all of Bramalea would be built in a decade. In reality it took four times as long, and still continues to grow with in-fill neighbourhoods added with time.004

No high rises are show here, yet the next page explains that Bramalea was to have an urban atmosphere.005 006 007 008 009 010 011 012

It is interesting to read the 4th paragraph, which describes the almost utopian dream of Bramalea. No air pollution! Other early promotional material mentions that there would be no traffic congestion, smog or urban sprawl.014 015 016

“Some farms will be left intact” Hmm…does the barn at the petting zoo in Chinguacousy Park count?

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Close…but not exactly as built, especially the top-centre and left-side parts of the plan.024

Perhaps they shouldn’t have depended on the Avro Aircraft industry in Malton as a potential employer….
025 026 027 029Please feel free to add any comments, insights, or reactions to this founding document for Bramalea.

Anatomy of a Plan – The raised bungalow in Bramalea

Starting in the late 1970s a design was premiered in Bramalea that was essentially a re-imagined version of some of the very first houses built in the area. This design was of a raised bungalow with an L-shaped living and dining room layout. This plan appeared in various incarnations across Bramalea over the following decade.

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The main level layout (the top floor) shown below has an L-shaped living and dining room and intersecting kitchen, with three bedrooms and a bathroom behind.

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The roots of this room arrangement can actually be traced back to the Victorian era, but became most popular with the foursquare designs built en-masse beginning early in the 20th century. These square or rectangular designs often had an L-shaped living and dining room layout on the main floor (although some had the two back to back). The Foursquare can be seen across the continent, including the historic downtown of Brampton. (For more on the foursquare please visit my other blog: http://modernrealtor.blogspot.ca/2011/09/enduring-foursqaure.html).

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Aladdin mail order house, c. 1930

The foursquare design became the basis for many of the 2-storey houses in Bramalea – with an L-shaped living and dining room arrangement.

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Southgate Village, c.1965-1967. D-Section (also built in the B-Section).

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Northgate, c.1970-1972. G-Section.

The L-shaped living and dining room layout was also very common in bungalow designs in the mid-20th century in North America. It can be said that these designs were an adaptation of the Foursquare by essentially putting the upper and lower floors side-by-side, and removing the 4th bedroom. In some cases a bedroom was next to the kitchen, while in others the bathroom or stairway abutted the kitchen.

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Bramalea, c.1959-1960. A-Section.

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Bramalea, c.1959-1960. A-Section.

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Westgate, c.1964-1965. B-Section.

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Bramalea, c.1959-1960. A-Section.

The Windsor plan above is very similar to the later raised bungalow designs in Bramalea, except for the placement of the stairs. It was unique in that the narrow side faced the road. With the luxury of wide suburban lots, builders maximized the sense of a sprawling house with the long side commonly towards the street.

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Southgate Village, c.1965-1967. D-Section.

The plan above is of a raised bungalow, and the two car garage on the lower level foreshadows the raised bungalow designs which became popular later.

The general layout of these bungalows could be adapted to the split-level house – both detached and semi-detached.

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Bramalea, c.1959-1960. A-Section.

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Twingate, c. 1962-1965. C-Section.

Beginning in the late 1970s, this bungalow layout was rotated to fit a narrower lot width, and then the plan was raised up a level so that at two-car garage could be placed under the main living level. It was acceptable to build houses without garages in the early years of Bramalea, but by the time the raised bungalow appeared a garage was a must.

The front section shown below is similar to the main floors common in a Foursquare plan and early Bramalea bungalows:

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The back of the house has a layout similar to the upper levels of 3-bedroom Foursquare plans, or the bedroom wing of a bungalow:

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The resultant design was built in many Bramalea communities by Bramalea Limited, each time with subtle variations.

There are two general versions of the main (upper) level. One is larger with an ensuite bathroom and walk-in-closet off the master bedroom, plus a breakfast area off the kitchen. The other version has one bathroom on the main level. In all versions one of the bedrooms is behind the kitchen.

There are a handful of ground level layouts all with a family room, but some have a bedroom and full bath as well. It appears that only one version has a basement below this ground level. Below are the various incarnations of the plan:

W1 W1P

Sunrise Estates and Sunrise Estates West, c. 1979-1980. M-Section and L-Section.W9W9P

Sunrise Estates and Sunrise Estates West, c. 1979-1980. M-Section and L-Section.

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The Heritage Series, c.1980-1982. N-Section.

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Showcase 2000, c.1982. M-Section, section without a letter.

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Sunset in Bramalea, c.1983-1985. N-Section.

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Sunset on Greenmount, c.1984. G-Section.

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Trail Ridge, c.1985-1987. N-Section.

The L-shaped arrangement of living and dining room also became common for other plans in Bramalea, including some townhouses, where these rooms were located across the back of the house with the kitchen in the centre of the house (often behind the garage). It was also the arrangement of the 1970s semi-detached house I lived in as a child in the L-Section.

Westgate

When: Built circa 1964-1965.

Where: Northeast of Balmoral Drive and Dixie Road.

Who: Built by Bramalea Construction (Peel) Limited

What I Know: The floor plans for the houses in the B-Section south of Balmoral Drive were different and distinguished by numbers, whereas in this phase the plans were all given fantastic names (what is a Lyric Holiday?).

I apologize for the quality of some of these plans, but they are the only copies I have.

64sept12

Toronto Daily Star, September 12, 196465feb13

Toronto Daily Star, February 13, 1965.

31 model homes!! I remember when 26 model homes at Springdale in the 1990s was a big deal! The other neighbourhoods, the “Twin Homes” and “Bramalea on the Park” are in the C-Section, and “Bramalea Woods”  is in the L-Section.65mar13

Toronto Daily Star, March 13, 196565may8

Toronto Daily Star, May 8, 1965

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0011 003 004 005 006
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The next few plans are sadly cut off. Fortunately, I have articles/larger versions of two of them!0062 0063 0072

An article and blueprint from Canadian Builder, April 1964:a b c d e

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Also from Canadian Builder April 1964:f g