Wednesday, July 31, 2013

An Ontario vernacular bungalow, maybe

The home shown today sits across the street from the cottage featured yesterday. This home looks a lot like a classic Ontario cottage but it may be an example of a vernacular bungalow.

The simple shed roof doesn't feel right to me but maybe it's original. My guess is that it was added when the house was updated and upgraded.

On the plus side it is a well maintained, heritage home. It is located in one of the finest neighbourhoods in all of London. It should continue to be well maintained and it should not just hold its value but appreciate nicely over the coming years.

The amazing thing about these little places is how roomy they are inside. Usually the door leads into a long central hall with a living room off to one side. There are usually two bedrooms. The kitchen is at the back of the home and there is a small dining room. Many folk put an addition on the back of these and enlarge the living space.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Ontario Cottage

This particular Ontario cottage is slightly different than most. Traditionally the door is in the middle, right below the central small gable breaking the roof line. Here the door is off to the side with the window displaced to where the door usually is found.

The question that immediately comes to mind is, "Has the door been moved some time after the home was built?" I don't know. It is possible the door was always at the far right. These little place were built and owned by working class families who followed tradition but were not adverse to bending the rules a little.

For more info on Ontario cottages try these links:
A Field Guide to Building Watching
The Ontario Cottage: The Globalization of a British Form in the Nineteenth Century

Monday, July 29, 2013

Horses south of roadway, homes north

Home building is getting closer and closer to this pasture and the day is coming quickly when the horses found on this land will be gone. Apple orchards, pasture land, crop land, all were to be found south of my home when I moved here just a little more than twenty years ago. All is now threatened. This should come as no surprise as this picture was taken not fifteen minutes by car from the London, Ontario, city centre.

Friday, July 26, 2013

St. Joe's Hospital getting a new face

The St. Joe's hospital complex in London, Ontario, has a rich religious heritage. As the old hospital is being updated, a new skin is being applied to the aging, yellow brick building -- yet, it's connection to Christ is still evident. Note the cross at the bottom right in this picture showing the new look.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Byron: 7th in a series

This modern home has the garage turned 90-degrees so the double, lifting door is on the side and not boldly facing the street. This answer to the hide-the-garage riddle demands a wide lot. I rather like this home and from inside I imagine the large windowed front is quite spectacular.

There are not a lot of homes like this one. I can see the day in the distant future when this home will be quite admired for its design and its rarity.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Byron: 6th in a series

I was posting some images of homes in my neighbourhood. Then I took a short break. Today I return to the topic of homes.

This home, a very common style of home in London suburbs late in the last century, has a lovely covered porch. The critics of suburbia often moan about the loss of the front porch. Clearly these critics have not spent much time in suburbia.

The lots in this Byron neighbourhood are wider than many lots today. This extra width allowed the builder to put the garage on the side of the home rather than jutting out from the front.

But what makes this place for me is the landscaping. The home has a wonderful in-the-park look, don't you agree?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Old attraction demands more attention

Springbank Park and Storybook Gardens are two aging attractions in London. The merry-go-round is in the park just outside the gardens. The merry-go-round is loved by many children but needs more maintenance than the city seems willing to give.

Note missing reins.
Today my son-in-law took my granddaughter to the park to ride both the carousel and the small train. While Fiona was galloping in circles on her black-painted steed, another child pulled on the reins of her horse and the reins broke. Merry-go-rounds are not dangerous but broken reins are. This is unacceptable.

I looked about and noted that possibly more of the painted horses were missing their reins than had them. Fiona told me that she always looks to see if the pony has reins before asking to be assisted onto the saddle.

The city is talking about putting in a multi-million dollar swimming pool and artificial beach at the Forks of the Thames at the edge of the downtown core. And in recent years city council has been on a hold the line on property taxes bent.

Note the broken mirror and missing light bulbs. Sad.
If the city goes through with the pool and the beach, I'd say they were practising a little of the rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul approach to budgeting. This is not a brilliant approach.

In the end the city will have simply have an expensive attraction in need of expensive attention.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

You say you see a Blue Whale?

Fiona, 3, saw a Blue Whale floating above the trees as we did some cloud gazing.

I never saw anything wrong with the Road Runner cartoons of my youth. I didn't learn violence from watching Wylie Coyote getting smucked time and time again. I'm using smuck as it was used in the '50s and not as it is sometimes used today. A lot more has changed than just children's cartoons.

That said, my granddaughter learns a great deal from today's cartoons. She picked up the game "cloud gazing." I'm in my mid 60s and I didn't know there was a proper term for lying on one's back with a friend, the two of you sharing impressions of passing clouds.

And when I was three, I certainly would not have seen a giant Blue Whale, the largest animal that has ever lived according to Fiona, floating above the trees. But my granddaughter did, thanks to the Octonauts.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Byron: 5th in a series

A storm rolled in over London this afternoon. It threatened to be a bad one. There were warnings of possible tornadoes, heavy hail and winds gusting to 110 km/h. My wife and I moved our car into the garage, just in case. Then I walked across the court to watch.

As the storm roiled above I looked down. The light was lovely and the wild flowers beautiful. I shot some quick pictures.

Then I wheeled around and fled for home. As I walked quickly under a neighbour's tree lightning cracked above me. I thought: Not a good place to be; I'm on a high point of land under a tall tree.

I ran across the court, my wife was standing on our small, low porch looking quite concerned.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Byron: 4th in a series

The above home is one of my favourites in the neighbourhood. I believe it was painted a few years ago and it looks even better today than when I moved into this suburb more than two decades ago. The garage is a little more dominant than on some of the other designs but this doesn't detract from the home's attractiveness.

As you can see, this neighbourhood is not filled with cookie cutter designs. The developer was very creative.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Byron: 3rd in a series

This is a duplex. Did you notice that the garage is attached to the neighbouring home?

There is a lot of talk about building tighter, more compact neighbourhoods. This talk is quickly becoming nothing more than background noise as the city planning department has started a move to get everyone onside for the next expansion of London onto surrounding farmland.

We hate sprawl the London city planners tell us. Then they turn around and argue that in order not to sprawl too much, they will sprawl just a little. Don't they understand: Sprawl is sprawl. (Actually they do. They are not stupid, just sneaky.)

Once the public, the ReThink London members, accept a little sprawl, they will be asked to accept just a little more. After some years have passed, the community will look about and realize that it has been bamboozled and a massive amount of new sprawl surrounds the city.

One answer to sprawl is the building of duplexs and the ones in Byron are a good introduction to how to build duplexs that don't shout "duplex."

Byron: 2nd in a series

When I look at this home I see a maturing of the suburban homes I knew back in the '60s. Builders loved big bay windows at that time. The two smaller windows on both sides, called flankers, often open for ventilation. This bay window has a copper roof which has developed a lovely green patina over time.

The shutters are suburban classics: purely decorative. They clearly have no function other than visually framing the upstairs windows as they are too narrow to protect the windows if they actually could be closed. Because of their purely decorative nature, some people in the neighbourhood have removed the faux shutters that once bordered some of their windows. I think this is sad. The original look of the neighbourhood is being lost. These modified homes are being moved visually from the '80s into today.

This front door has sidelights with glass matching that in the door itself. In Byron this glass is usually decorative with a frosted look or stained glass appearance. This makes the large foyers bright but private.

The home has a lovely front porch. Long and sensibly deep, front porches like this are not uncommon in the area and are often used. That said, I have found in my strolling about the area that even smaller, less traditional porches are also often used by residents. I have a porch just barely big enough for two big chairs and a much smaller child's chair. That porch is often in use.

The garage is on the side of the home and not jutting out in front. Until that late '80s in London, this was the common approach. After that, lots became narrower forcing garages to the front. The so called snout house was born. (I hate the term. It sounds insulting. City planners should never use the term.)

The front yard plantings are almost de rigueur in this neighbourhood. A beautifully maintained front lawn seems to be socially obligatory. A well-tended flower garden, a row or two of bushes, a front yard island, all are almost demanded. These beautifully maintained front yards give this lovely area a park like feel which is much enjoyed by walkers. The neighbourhood is a walking destination in itself and its beauty expands the concept of a walkable neighbourhood.

Tomorrow I will post another picture of a Byron home.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Byron: A London, Ontario, subdivision

I love this modern home with a little balcony off what I assume is the master bedroom.

Subdivision is a dirty word in London, Ontario. I don't know why as most Londoners live in a subdivision.

The local paper likes to talk about London subdivisions as if they were the same as Toronto developments. They aren't. For instance, I can drive downtown in 15 minutes or less at almost any time of day. Heck, once I walked home from downtown London on account of late night car trouble.

Byron, where I live, was an independent little place southwest of the city before it was annexed half a century ago. My subdivision was designed and constructed more than thirty years ago by Eadie and Wilcox, a local developer.

There is a small commercial mall in the north end of the development. Farther north is the old, former core of Byron which is still a commercial hub with a grocery store, liquor store, drug store and more. Immediately to the south of the E and W subdivision is a new and rapidly expanding box store like mall. I can easily walk to all three commercial shopping areas

The street layout is classic North American subdivision with lots of crescents and courts mixed in with the roads. Major traffic carrying streets have sidewalks on both sides, minor traffic carrying streets have a sidewalk on one side and cul-de-sacs with low traffic flows have narrow roadways and no sidewalks at all.

The London planning department makes quite a big deal out of some of the older, heritage subdivisions in town. Wortley Village in Old South comes to mind. There is a move to protect the Wortley Village neighbourhood.

I like old as much as the next person. Yet, I find it sad that we ignore the new in favour of the old. I believe we should respect the whole city. The city planners should strive to protect what is good everywhere in the city and try to ensure that commercial spaces are as dense and productive in new subdivisions as in older, heritage ones.

And so, starting to day, I am going to run some pictures of homes in the Eadie and Wilcox developed subdivision in the south west end of London, Ontario.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Canada Day fireworks in London, Ontario

Monday was Canada Day. When I was a boy it was known as Dominion Day. The name changed in 1983. One thing hasn't changed: the fireworks. Almost every community in Canada annually puts on a large fireworks display every July 1st.

Colourful bursts filled the sky at the Forks of the Thames in downtown London, Ontario, while those in the south west of the city enjoyed fireworks at the Optimist Sports Complex. Thousands of Londoners took advantage of the two shows while still more celebrated with small, private displays held in hundreds of backyards throughout the city.

I thought I had a great spot to photograph the display but when the fireworks started, sometimes with two launch sites active at once, I found some of the bursts were marred by the silhouette of a lamp post. (It's right in the middle of this picture. Notice?)