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Building Styles

Victory (1940 - 1960)

Prior to the second World War, many Canadians lived in large 19th century homes either as the owners or as one of a variety of servants, gardeners, maids, cooks and nannies. All of this changed during the 1940s when the Canadian government made a concerted effort to supply housing for the men and women who worked in defense-oriented industries and later for veterans returning from the war. The working classes began to get homes of their own. Much legislation, including The Veteran's Land Act, provided funding for such projects, and small subdivisions sprang up in virtually every major town or city in Canada. This was the first step towards the suburban movement of the 1950s and thereafter.

Victory housing was designed to be permanent and comfortable, large enough for a single family. Most of this housing was prefabricated - walls and roofs constructed at a central factory then shipped to the final location for assembly. Once a street was constructed, it was neat, tidy, and uniform. The houses were generally one-and-a-half storey with a steep roof , shallow eaves and no dormers. Multi-paned sash windows supplied light to the first floor and through the gable ends. The finish is different in every center, but clapboard was the most common. If you find yourself on a street that might appear to be Victory housing, the street name - Victory, Churchill, Montgomery might confirm it.

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Thunder Bay

Victory housing was soundly made and sturdy. These examples are well kept and have been updated with new windows, roofs, and siding. The closest house has the front gable built up with a new porch or sitting room. The windows have been replaced as well, but the basic design is still evident.

The layout of the street has been enhanced by the landscaping. The people on this street are clearly taking good care of the neighborhood.


Victory Housing

Thunder Bay Ontario

Sault Ste. Marie

Here the houses are slightly closer together. There has been new siding applied. These are gable front examples; the veranda or porch roof is a 1950s touch.

Often Victory housing is painted in bright colours. Here the bright blue gives it almost a cottage look.



Italian Villa

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Thunder Bay

The shape of this house has not changed from the original plan even though the roof and siding are both new. This retains the simple Cape Cod Colonial form with a small overdoor porch. The windows are new and the services have been updated as can be seen on the exterior, but the look of the house is still neat and tidy.

Instead of a window on the gable end, here we have a vent.




Victory House Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay Ontario


A long, colourful, string of Victory houses in Hamilton shows what a difference colour can make to the look of a house. Shutters and other window treatments also make a difference. Like those above, these are well maintained and have more or less kept the same 1940s design.

Gothic Revival Cottage

Hamilton Ontario

Extra Reading and resources for Victory



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

Kalman, Harold "Domestic Architecture" in A Concise History of Canadian Architecture 2000



Swing Shift

The Best Years of Our Lives



Iron Cresting Modillions or Paired Brackets Bay Quoins Dormer Belvedere Awning Modillions Balconette Paired Windows Cornice Return Cornice Return Gable Gable