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Colonial Revival (1900 - 2003)

Colonial Revivals are a self-conscious attempt to recall the architecture of the first colonies in North America. Ontario, or Upper Canada, was largely colonized by United Empire Loyalists, English people who were not interested in joining the independence movement of the United States. The architectural style that arrived with the UELs in 1783 was Georgian. In addition to British nationalists there was a liberal smattering of Irish, Scots, Dutch, German and Huguenot French who brought with them concepts and attitudes from their own native lands. Architecture from the 18th and early 19th centuries in Ontario includes a wide assortment of detailing and ornament all applied to a basic building design

centered around the fireplace and the source of water. Included in many of these designs are ornamental tributes to the indigenous First Nations peoples, without whom they could not have survived. Colonial Revivals are a tribute to the early settlers. They can be seen in many subdivisions and commercial buildings. The Revivals can be identified by the use of modern materials and construction methods - snap-on window glazing bars - and garages. The Ancestral Roof by Marion MacRae and Anthony Adamson is a beautifully written account of the first years of Ontario architecture.

Click Hotpoints for descriptions of terms in both text and images.

Niagara Parkway

Classical Revival style in this late 20th century home close to Niagara Falls Ontario makes it "contextual" because many of the 19th century buildings in the area are of the original Classical Revival style.

The pedimented portico and the giant order Ionic columns give this house a grand and formal beauty, particularly in the early morning sun. The lunette over the front door and the side lights are also classical details. The design is symmetrical, balanced, and refined.

Classical Revival in Niagara Falls

Niagara Parkway Ontario

Langdon Hall 1898

This is a manor house on a grand scale. The setting as well as the attention to detail are remeniscent of a much earlier age. In fact this building is little over 100 years old.

This was built as a home for a wealthy Englishman named Eugene Langdon Wilks and his wife. They had the house designed in the Federal Revival style that was popular for summer homes for Americans.

Colonial Revival in Picton

Cambridge Ontario

Langdon Hall 1898

The massive front portico has four large columns and four engaged pilasters all in the Ionic style.

A Palladian window with an oversized casing can be found in the tympanum of the pediment.

This is one of the rare cases when the use of the space between the columns gets more attention thatn the columns themselves.

Colonial Revival in Picton

Picton Ontario

Langdon Hall 1898

The portico has a coffered ceiling. The entablature over the columns shows a classic Ionic dentil band and the cornice has large modillions.

A large balcony projects over the front door. The front door itself has a huge ornate fanlight.


Langdon Hall is a spa and retreat, emphasis on the TREAT part of retreat.

Colonial Revival in Picton

Picton Ontario

Langdon Hall 1898

Every detasil of this lovely place is beautifully done. Around the windows are radiating keystones.


Colonial Revival in Picton

Cambridge Ontario

Claramont Inn and Spa Picton 1904

Very similar to Fairview is this wonderful Inn and Spa in Picton built by Edward Young and his family in 1904.

This is similar to Mount Fairview and the Classical Revival home in Hamilton on the Classical Revival pages in that there are giant order columns and a generous amount of white. The difference is that the circular portico in front is the only really Classical feature: the ground floor windows are a variation on Palladian and the upper floor windows are directly below a frieze with no window surround or shutters.

Colonial Revival in Picton

Picton Ontario

Claramont Inn and Spa Picton 1904

The portico illustrates the difference between the Classical Revival and the Colonial styles. The entablature which would have been adorned with dentils in the Ionic Order, is here decorated with a floral frieze. The same frieze is found on spandrels throughout the building. The oval window would also not be found on a Classical Revival building. The second story balcony is similar to that of the Toronto home below.

The choice of paint both colour and gloss is perfect. The white columns and trim look like so much white cake frosting. The owners have done a spectacular job of restoring and maintaining this building.

Colonial Revival in Picton

Picton Ontario


Like the one above, this house is American Colonial Revival, and even more particularly,Southern Colonial; you could see similar houses hung with Spanish moss in Georgia or Louisiana. The house has giant order columns supporting a pediment with no entablature, a sure sign that it is 20th century. The house is a formal center-hall arrangement with multi-paned, shuttered windows. The entrance has large French doors, an equal sized second storey window, and two storey side lights. The garden is also formal and very well kept.

Colonial Revival in Brantford

Waterford Ontario


This well-maintained suburban house in Barrie is a mixture of many styles. The lower level is stone as is the chimney, while the upper level is clapboard. The windows on the lower level are multi-paned fixed windows with stone jack arches. The voussoirs are stone. The entrance has an undersized pediment with prominent cornices held up by stylized pilasters.

On the upper level front end gables hold six-over-six sash windows. This is not an imitation of any one particular style but a mixture of many from Period Revival through Colonial Revival.



Colonial House in Barrie

Barrie Ontario


Here is a very good late 20th century reproduction of a Classical Revival building.

Within the tympanum is a lunette; here it is a vent instead of a window. The cornice returns are discreet. Shuttered sash windows are symmetrical throughout. The quoins on the frontispiece are brick as are the first and second floor finish bands.

The door surround has a pediment broken at the top to allow for an ornamental finial, reminiscent of Baroque broken pediments. Fluted pilasters support the pediment and have understated colonial capitals. The effect is measured and balanced.

Colonial revival in Toronto

Toronto Ontario


This Georgian Revival style is a suburban adaptation of the Georgian style built by the original settlers in Canada. The garage has been nicely tied in.

Colonial Revival in Erindale

Aldershot Ontario


Built in 1922, this school-house is representative of many one or two room Ontario schoolhouses. The wings were added in the 1950s. The building is simple red brick heated by a central fireplace. The front portico has clustered Corinthian columns and a lunette in the gable. There are generous cornices on the roof and the portico. The hip roof has the original bell.

Colonial Revival in Erindale

Erindale Ontario


This large family home (1902), more perhaps than those above, has an eclectic mixture of Classical elements.

The footprint is basically square; the monumental pedimented portico sets the tone for the rest of the façade. The pediment has wide cornices with denticulation. The pediment is copied on the third floor dormers. Within the portico is a second storey balustraded balcony over a door with an elaborate elliptical fanlight and sidelights. The door is flanked by Doric columns while the columns on the pediment have Ionic capitals.

The white portico contrasts with the dark red of the brick façade. Large quoins are painted white, and keystones above the windows are also white. Nothing is understated. Everything is quite grand.

Colonial Revival in Toronto

Toronto Ontario


This charming house was built in 1928 in an established residential area. It is a clapboard house with a three- windowed dormer on a steep-pitched roof. The shutters were not meant to fit the multi-paned windows that they frame.

The most outstanding feature is the half-round portico with ornate, white iron cresting.

Colonial Revival in Simcoe

Simcoe Ontario

Thunder Bay

Dutch Colonial Revival was a popular style in some areas. Characteristic of the style is the high gambrel roof.

This house has a one-and-a-half-storey cross gambrel with a unique, three part window. The dormer is finished with cedar shingles of a different tone than the shingles that cover the main roof.

Also indicative of the Dutch version of the Colonial style is the very small entrance with a small porch or stoop.

Colonial Revival in Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay Ontario

Port Dalhousie

Many wood-sided buiildings painted blue with white trim are immediately referred to as "Cape Cod" style. While many are, in Ontario, a lot of settlers were moving west from such places as Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and this was where the inspiration came from.

The wood siding, fish scale shingles, large gable, and pillared front portico on this building date from about 1930. The windows have been replaced by large, single pane sash windows, removing some of the period charm, but the door is still original.

Colonial Revival in Port Dalhousie

Port Dalhousie Ontario


Colonial Extra Reading and Films


Blumenson, John. Ontario Architecture A Guide to Styles and Terms. 1978

Harmon, Robert B., The colonial revival in American architecture,Monticello, Ill. : Vance Bibliographies, 1983



For information on Colonial Revival architecture in specific areas within Ontario there are some very good books listed under the About page.


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Pediment Lunette Column Architrave Gable Voussoir Pediment Entrance Muntin Lunette Cornice Return Shutters Broken Pediment Pilaster Quoin Band Portico Bell tower or Campanile Cornice Awning Architrave Ionic Pedimented Portico Pediment Cornice Quoining Dormer Iron Cresting Dormer Column Pediment Column Shutters Shingle Dormer Chimney Fish Scale Shigles Portico