Located in Markham, Ontario, the historic rural village of Unionville - which was initially settled in 1794 - has successfully maintained its architectural and historic character with a collection of 19th and early 20th century residences.
Many of these residences are found on Unionville's Main Street which, along with the planting of native species and the preservation of mature vegetation, have reinforced the existing heritage character of this town.
For true lovers of Ontario architecture, examples of Georgian Regency (1790-1875), Gothic Revival (1839-1890), Italianate (1840-1890), The Second Empire (1860-1900), Queen Anne (1880-1910) and Edwardian Classicism (1900-1930) can be found.
Here are some examples:
124 Main St., Unionville
Some of the design features of this style include the centre gable roof, the 3 bay front facade, the Lancet window on the front facade and the Georgian windows on the east. Note the large casement windows, the segmental arched shutters & square shutters, and the flemish bond brick construction.
133 Main St., Unionville
Historically, this rural community encouraged the use of reserved colours on the exteriors, resulting in the common use of pale natural tones. This residence, built in 1870 by owner John Stephenson, incorporates multiple elements gathered from different architectural styles used in the district. At one time, the south side of this structure was used as the Stephenson Bank.
Some of the design elements here include vertical wood planks, an edwardian classicism veranda (which is a popular feature of 19th century Canadian rural architecture), a double gable facade with a relatively steep pitch, Italianate windows and the Gothic pointed window on the right side of front facade. Here you see the embellishments using wooden quatrefoil decoration in the gables.
North facade of 133 Main St., Unionville
In the late 19th century and earlier, wood fireplaces were the primary source of heating. This home maintains the traditional wood fireplace that is typically found at the gable ends.
126 Main St., Unionville
One of the dominant features of Main Street are the white picket fences, which used to run the entire length of Main Street. The dwelling above has preserved this tradition.
Constructed in 1879, in the style of Picturesque, it incorporates elements of Italianate architecture including the porch with wooden architectural detailing, the hipped roof on north side (a design trick to minimize the perceived height), the fenestration and the segmental arched shutters.
117 Main St., Unionville
This Second Empire style house, built in 1907, sits on a fieldstone foundation. It was during this time when builders began using darker coloured brick of deep reds or yellows. In some instances, light-coloured bricks were dyed red to give an illusion of a higher brick quality. Some of the design features unique to this style include the mansard roof, the brick bay window on the front facade, the decorative wooden millwork on the eaves, the veranda and arched shutters.
These homes are examples of the many resplendent 19th and early 20th century village residences in the historic centre of Unionville.
How fortunate we can still enjoy this communal emblem of historic Canadian architecture.
Written and researched by Sanaz Daliri, alumna of the University of Toronto, Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design.
Photos Courtesy of Sanaz Daliri