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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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!

f86apr19

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.

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 Heart Lake Mystery

I have a bit of a mystery that perhaps my readers can help me solve. As far as I know Bramalea Limited never built in the Villages of Heart Lake area of Brampton during the 1970s. Yet, there is one semi-detached paring in that area that is a carbon-copy of Bramalea Limited’s plans built in the L-Section of Bramalea (specifically, in the Moore Park and Bramalea Estates Semis neighbourhoods).

So, did a builder completely copy the design…or did Bramalea Limited just built this one pair for some reason?

Below is the pair in the Villages of Heart Lake:

amberwood sq

Here are two images of the same design in Bramalea (with updated windows):Laurelcrest leacrest

Bramalea Limited also built the same design in Amberlea, Pickering, as shown below.

pickering Shadybrook

Below is a portion of an article from 1977 showing the model homes for Bramalea Estates Semis showing the design on the left.

77nov5

Toronto Star, November 5, 1977

I would love to read any insights or theories from my blog readers.

I am back in action!

It has been a long and grueling few months of battling cancer and having a stem-cell transplant, but I am on the mend and I feel great! A special thank you for all of the thoughts, prayers and encouraging messages!

It is time to start blogging again and I have more great postings to share.

As my readers know, I am always on the lookout for missing floor plans and information on Bramalea. Over the past little while I have been delighted to receive a handful of plans that I am missing, so I wanted to share them below. Interestingly, it turns out that they are all from the L-Section. For those of you who might be new to my blog, I have a post dedicated to plans I am missing from my collection: Missing floor plans needed! Please keep them coming!

This plan is from Nortonville Estates West – Broles:

buckhorn

buckhorn plan

From Moore Park (the area where I grew up) in the L-Section. This is the only plan that I have for the houses in that area!

moore pk

moore pk plan

This plan is from the Laura Court and Lime Ridge Drive area. For some reason it would only upload sideways… As I suspected, it is one of the same plans from the Master’s Series in Deerchase. It appears that the other houses in the area were also built from the same plans as those in the N-Section.lime ridge and laura 2

 More blog posts to come…stay tuned!

Parc Laurel

When: Built circa 1989-1991

Where: Lancewood Crescent

Who: Bramalea Limited

What I Know: Some of the plans are very similar to the designs at Carriage Walk built around the same time – although this enclave does not have as many amenities.

The complex of has 54 houses.All of the designs have a two bedroom option, indicating that the target market was either empty-nesters or professionals without children. Also notice how every master bedroom has a walk-in-closet. The two larger plans have a family room over the garage. The majority of the houses in the complex are the these larger plans.

In 1990 the prices were drastically reduced for the houses (see the November 3, 1990 advertisement).

89nov11

Toronto Star, November 11, 1989 90feb24

Toronto Star, February 24, 199090may12

Toronto Star, May 12, 1990

90oct20

Toronto Star, October 20, 1990

90nov3

Toronto Star, November 3, 1990

91mar30

Toronto Star, March 30, 1991

madisonlexington palisades

manhattan

Nortonville Estates West – Broles

When: Built circa 1988

Where: Leeward Crescent, Laidlaw Avenue, Lightwood Place

Who: Broles Building Corporation

What I Know: The master bedroom suites in these houses are very luxurious with walk-in-closets, very large ensuite bathrooms and some even have sitting areas. The Belwood has a very large master bedroom retreat over the garage reminiscent of some Bramalea Limited designs built in the early 1980s.

Some of the designs are unique including the Rosseau raised bungalow and the Joseph with the master bedroom on its own level above the garage. The Simcoe is an interesting design as it looks like the second garage could be removed and the house built on a narrower lot.

Windows are a key feature of many of the designs, many having multiple bay windows. This aspect of the designs is mentioned in the newspaper article reproduced below.

On Leward Drive at Laidlaw Avenue are two alternate versions of the Haliburton, as the houses have been raised above the garage with an extra room added in its place.

I am missing the floor plans for 30-foot lots in this development.

a88feb6

Toronto Star, February 6, 1988b88feb13

Toronto Star, February 13, 1988 c88mar19

Toronto Star, March 19, 1988 d88mar26

Toronto Star, March 26, 1988 e88aug20

Toronto Star, August 20, 1988 f88sept10

Toronto Star, September 10, 1988 g88sept24

Toronto Star, September 24, 1988 h88oct22

Toronto Star, October 22, 1988 i88nov12

Toronto Star, November 12, 1988 j88dec7

Toronto Star, December 7, 1988

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m

001 (2) 003 004 005 006 007 008 009 010 011 012 013 014 015 016 017 018 019 020 021

A special thanks to a reader for sending me one of the 30-foot lot floor plans:

buckhorn

buckhorn plan

Laurelcrest

When: Built circa 1988-1992

Where: 10 and 12 Laurelcrest Street

Who: Bramalea Limited

What I Know: These two “towers in a park” have a gatehouse restricting access to the complex. This layout with a gate and landscaped grounds was common with the condos that Bramalea Limited built in Bramalea and elsewhere (aside from downtown locations where land is at a premium).

The two 12-storey towers are not as tall as the others Bramalea Limited built in Bramalea at the time. The location further away from the Bramalea City Centre may have dictated the shorter height of the buildings.

The two towers are mirror images of each other with the same design, centred on an outdoor pool. Tennis courts are located at the far end of the site.

In comparison to the brick facades of Bramalea buildings from the 1970s, this later generation of buildings have full walls of glass, filling the interiors with light.

Inside, many of the units are quite large for condominiums, but not as luxuriously appointed as Bellair on the ParkIn that building all of the two and three-bedroom units have ensuite bathrooms, whereas at Laurelcrest none of the plans have an exclusive ensuite bathroom – but some have a cheater door – plus a powder room.

It is apparent from the advertising that Bramalea Limited was successful at first in sales of the units, but later had some difficulty. By the 1990s prices were slashed for the units, making some less expensive compared to when they were first sold. This can be linked to a variety of economic and real-estate market difficulties at the time.

a88oct29

Toronto Star, October 29, 1988

001

Toronto Star, February 25, 1989

b89apr1

Toronto Star, April 1, 1989c89apr15

Toronto Star, April 15, 1989 d89jun17

Toronto Star, June 17, 1989 e89jul29

Toronto Star, July 29, 1989 f89sept23

Toronto Star, September 23, 1989 g89oct7

Toronto Star, October 7, 1989 h90jan27

Toronto Star, January 27, 1990i90mar24

Toronto Star, March 24, 1990 j90may12

Toronto Star, May 12, 1990 k90jun16

Toronto Star, June 16, 1990 l90jun23

Toronto Star, June 23, 1990 m90sept22

Toronto Star, September 22, 1990 n91apr6

Toronto Star, April 6, 1991o91jun15

Toronto Star, June 15, 1991 p91jul13

Toronto Star, July 13, 1991

009 (2)

001 (2) 002 (2) 003 (2) 004 006 007 008 009 010 011 013 014

002 003

Tribute on the Park

When: Built circa 1984

Where: Leatherhead Court (parts), LaFrance Road (parts)

Who: Tribute Homes

What I Know: Some of the designs had the option of building them on a 40 or 45-foot wide lot, with a $5,000 difference for the wider lot width.

Buyers could get a fully furnished house from the Brick if they chose that option.

All of the designs, except for the bungalow, have a walk-in-closet, or a “walk-through” closet, and all of the houses have a master bedroom ensuite. All but the two smallest plans have a main floor laundry room. These are all features which were common to larger detached houses in the area at the time.

It does not appear that the bungalow design was ever built. The houses built on the lots titled parts 13, 14 and 15 are designs which I do not have the plans for and appear to be quite large.

Untitleseptd

Toronto Star, September 29, 1984

047 048 049 a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x

Anatomy of a Plan: The L-Shaped House

During the 1980s Bramalea Limited used one particular design more than any other in its advertising for Bramalea (and all of their developments). The design was the built as the Windsor in the Master’s Series in Deerchase in the N-Section. The house is distinctively characterized by an L-shaped facade with the door on an angle between the two arms of the L. Inside, the living and dining rooms are on each side of the entry, with a curved staircase punctuating the foyer.

001

Homes Magazine, June/July 1987

86feb22Toronto Star, February 22, 1986 88sept3

Toronto Star, September 3, 198887sept12

Toronto Star, September 12, 1987 84aug25

Toronto Star, August 25, 1984

c

d

One of the earliest versions of an L-shape plan in Bramalea was in the late 1970s as one of the Limited Edition Homes built in Kimber Park in the J-Section and King’s Row in the L-Section. The Carlton and Edward II plans are essentially the same, and it was the largest and priciest design in Kimber Park when first built. Since the house is wider compared to the Windsor, the kitchen and dining room were tucked in behind the garage, with the living room facing the street and back yard. In later (and narrower) versions the dining room and living room locations swap places.

001

Much like the Windsor, this design was also used extensively in advertising by Bramalea Limited at the time.

77dec24

Toronto Star, December 24, 197777oct8

Toronto Star, October 8, 1977

78jan14

Toronto Star, January 14, 1978

79jan27

Toronto Star, January 27, 1979

In Montara in the N-Section, c. 1987-1988, Bramalea Limited came up with a narrower version of the L-shape plan. The angled front door and the living and dining rooms on each side of the entry remain the same, but the narrowness of the house squeezed out the grand foyer with curved staircase. As is common with all of these L-shaped plans, the family room is across the back of the house.

The wider versions of this house type have the luxury of space surrounding the house to make the street view quite grand. The narrower the house, there is less front yard space is to make a grand statement. Few versions of the Cottonwood were actually built, yet it presents the best facade to the street when sited on a corner lot – as was done in a few cases. The Windsor plan, first introduced at the beginning of this post, is the most popular plan built on corner lots in The Master’s Series in Deerchase for the same reason.

015 019

At the end of the 1980s, Bramalea Limited offered the Saratoga plan at Emerald Cove on Professor’s Lake. While the door is not on an angle, the L-shape facade with the living and dining room on each side and grand foyer remains. For some reason this design was not very popular and it appears that only one was ever built in the area.

005 006 007

As a different take on the L-shaped design, around 1986 Bramalea Limited created this plan for their Fairfields community in Unionville. It has the same layout of living and dining room on each side of the foyer with curved staircase, yet has the unusual feature of a conversation pit at the back of the house – a throwback to the 1970s. Why did conversation pits go out of style? I think they are fantastic and a great spot to gather by the fireplace.

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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!