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.

68mar2

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.

Balmoral

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.

Briarpath

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.

gates

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.

75nov1

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

Village

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.

Carriage

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

Bramalea Oct 2006 036

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.

Laurelcrest

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.

b89apr1

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!

f86apr19

Toronto Star. April 19, 1986.

k88nov19

Toronto Star. November 19, 1988.

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The Gates of Bramalea

When: Built circa 1970-1971

Where: 475 Bramalea Road

Who: Consolidated Building Corporation and Ontario House Corporation

What I Know: I am missing the floor plans for the houses in this area, so if anyone has them, I would love to share them!

The two-story units have a carport, instead of a garage, but this allows for front-facing windows on the main floor (in the kitchen, I believe), something that would not be possible if there was a garage out front.

As with most of the townhouse complexes built in Bramalea at the time, there is an outdoor pool and play areas as part of the common elements.

Interestingly, the advertisements for the houses indicate that they came with a refrigerator, stove, hood fan and clothes dryer…but not a washing machine.

GB 1GB 2

70oct17

Toronto Star, October 17, 1970

70nov21

Toronto Star, November 21, 1970

71jan2

Toronto Star, January 2,1971

71jan30

Toronto Star, January 30, 1971

71may1

Toronto Star, May 1, 1971

71sept4

Toronto Star, September 4, 1971

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.

e

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

f

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.

g

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?

h the strand 81-82

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.

hh blue mount 81-82

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!

 

The F-Section

logos

Community Spotlight: the F-Section

The F-Section is bounded by Bramalea Road, Queen Street East, Torbram Road and Clark Boulevard. Earnscliffe Park cuts through the section and visually separates the condominium townhouse complexes in the western part from the rest of the area as only Clark Boulevard and Queen Street link the two sections together. The Northwestern part of the area has a commercial strip and a medical centre along Queen Street.

Although the section is small compared to others, it does have 3 schools and 2 churches.

Many of the houses in the area were built under the Ontario government’s Home Ownership Made Easy (H.O.M.E.) Plan, along with the D and E sections. The Concept 3 stacked townhouse complex with “streets in the sky” was the first time deck housing was built in Canada.

neighbourhoods

 Neighbourhoods in the F-Section

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Portion of the 1969 Master Plan for Bramalea

According to the 1969 Master Plan, the townhouses along Bramalea Road were planned to be low-rise apartments. Also on this plan, there were provisions for further apartments and commercial uses to the west of Concept 3/Folkstone Terrace, which was eventually built as Finchgate Estates.

The following are links to blog postings on some of the neighbourhoods in the F-Section:

Concept 3/Folkstone Terrace

Finchgate Estates

California Club Townhouses/Bramalea Park

Houses sold under the H.O.M.E. Plan

Kingsway Homes in Bramalea

Townhouses in Bramalea

I am missing the plans for The Gates of Bramalea and the houses built under the H.O.M.E. Plan. If you have them, please help make this blog better by letting me know so I can share them!

Please feel free to comment below and share stories or tidbits about the F-Section.

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!

Kingsway Homes in Bramalea

When: Built circa 1984?

Where: Flamingo Crescent (parts), Finsbury Drive (parts)

Who: Kingsway Homes

What I Know: According to the 1969 Master Plan, this land was “owned by others”, but zoned for single-family residential.

map

This in-fill area is the newest part of the F-Section, most of which was built in the 1960s and 1970s, with the exception of Finchgate Estates built in 1982.

As is common with smaller builders, the designs in this area are based on popular floor plans built by larger builders – including the back-split plans that are nearly identical to Darcel Homes’ plans from Blue Mount Estates. There is an impressive and unusual mix of designs in this community, including semi-detached, narrow detached and various types and sizes of wider detached plans. The Lancaster side-split plan is in a style common to 1960s-era developments, so it is interesting to see such a design as late as the 1980s.

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p

H.O.M.E. – Home Ownership Made Easy in Bramalea

When: Built circa 1967-1969.

Where: Parts of the D, E, and F-Sections

Who: Built by Bramalea Consolidated Developments Inc., Sweetgrass Homes, Tall Oaks Construction, D.R.H. Holdings Limited, Claran Homes Limited, Consolidated Building Coporation, and a handfull of other builders

What I know: Large parts of the D, E, and F-Section were built as a part of the Ontario Government’s Home Ownership Made Easy (H.O.M.E.) plan.

A handful of builders took place in the program, but sadly I do not have any plans for such houses – although at the bottom of this post I have the price list (thanks to a blog reader!) and the exterior images of some of the semi-detached houses built by Bramalea Consolidated Developments.  Some of the plans appear to be based on those at the first phase of Southgate Village: https://bramaleablog.wordpress.com/2013/11/20/southgate-village/ and Twingate: https://bramaleablog.wordpress.com/2013/11/18/twingate/

It has been suggested that perhaps plans were not handed out due to the quick buying frenzy for the houses. If any readers have the plans built in these areas under the H.O.M.E. plan please let me know!

 The articles below are for the detached and semi-detached houses in these areas built under the plan, but some of the townhouse complexes throughout Bramalea were also built as a part of the H.O.M.E. plan. The Villages of Central Park (the zero lot-line houses) were also built under the same program in the 1970s – and will be the subject of an upcoming post.

41 of the houses on Epsom Downs Drive were actually moved from Etobicoke to make way for the widening of HWY 27! (See article below from August 12, 1968)

Some of the houses were built on leased land. Most of these have probably been bought out, but I am wondering if any land leases still exist?

b67aug1

Toronto Daily Star, August 1, 1967c67aug1a

Toronto Daily Star, August 2, 1967 d67aug2b

Toronto Daily Star, August 2, 1967 e67aug3

Toronto Daily Star, August 3, 1967 f67aug5

Toronto Daily Star, August 5, 1967 g67aug5a

Toronto Daily Star, August 5, 1967 h67aug8

Toronto Daily Star, August 8, 1967 i67aug8c

Toronto Daily Star, August 8, 1967 j67aug8b

Toronto Daily Star, August 8, 1967 k67aug8d

Toronto Daily Star, August 8, 1967 l67aug8a

Toronto Daily Star, August 8, 1967 m67aug9

Toronto Daily Star, August 9, 1967 n67aug12

Toronto Daily Star, August 12, 1967 o67sept27

Toronto Daily Star, September 27, 1967 p67sept27a

Toronto Daily Star, September 27, 1967

r68feb21b

Toronto Daily Star, February 21, 1968s68feb21

Toronto Daily Star, February 21, 1968 t68apr13

Toronto Daily Star, April 13, 1968 u68may11

Toronto Daily Star, May 11, 1968 v68aug12a

Toronto Daily Star, August 12, 1968 ww68aug12

Toronto Daily Star, August 12, 1968 x68sept28

Toronto Daily Star, September 28, 1968 y68nov30

Toronto Daily Star, November 30, 1968 z69feb15

Toronto Daily Star, February 15, 1969zz69feb22

Toronto Daily Star, February 22, 1969 zzz69mar22

Toronto Daily Star, March 22, 1969

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Did you (or your parents) wait in line for one of these houses? Do you have a story to share about the experience? Please feel free to leave any thoughts in the comments section.

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.

003

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?

017 018 019

020 021 022 023

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.