A Journey Through Vancouver’s Heritage Homes

I don't know about you, but I'm getting a little tired of the modern housing trend! It seems like everyone is talking about simplistic, open concept, modern homes that have large floor to ceiling windows...And why not? We live in a fast pace society, and form must follow function for a home to be efficient. The trouble with this, which I'm seeing on a national level, is that our vintage housing stock is being torn down and replaced for trendy "modern homes".

Being interested in preserving many of our countries traditional dwellings, I was curious about what is being done in my local Vancouver, BC community to combat this situation. I was relieved to see that some organizations share the same concerns as I do: Let me introduce you to the Vancouver Heritage Foundation.

Founded in 1992, the Vancouver Heritage Foundation is a registered charity that supports the conservation of heritage buildings and structures. They are recognized for their contribution to the city’s economy, sustainability, and culture. For this post, I will share with you some of my favourite heritage properties in Vancouver, and explain what makes them so special!





Seen above, the Victorian style was prominent in 1886-1905. During this era, there was a huge shift in the character of housing design, which was brought upon by rapid industrialization. This allowed for mass production of many housing materials such as wood. This style is characterized by its steeply pitched roofs with a front gable, bay windows, front porches, detailed doors with pane glass, and gingerbread detailing. Patterned shingles are the most common building material used in a Victorian style home.





The Vancouver craftsman style was prominent from 1905-1925. This style is known for being on small urban lots, having 2 stories, a front gable, and a covered entry porch. Much of the material used in a Vancouver Craftsman home is locally sourced. Wood shingles usually cover the main body of the house, while lap siding covers the lower portions. Stone and brick are also commonly used as accents on the lower porch. This is definitely one of my favourite designs!





The Dutch Colonial Revival style was prominent in the 1920s and 1930s, and stems from Dutch and Huguenot settlement in North America. The easiest way to distinguish a Dutch Colonial Revival home is by its side-facing barn-style roof. This style is also characterized by having a centered front door with sidelights, double hung windows that are placed symmetrically together in two or three groups, and shutters equal in size that are often on the upper windows. Common materials used are lap siding or stucco with a concrete foundation.





Seen above, the Storybook style was prominent in the 1930s and 1940s. This was the time after world war one, when people wanted cozy homes that reinforced traditional values. It was also a time when Hollywood movies consisted of romances that depicted exotic and picturesque locations. When many people think of Storybook homes, a doll house often comes to mind. This style is characterized by asymmetrical design, steep gables roofs, one and a half stories, an arched front entry with a brick or stone outline, and arched windows. Common materials in the storybook style is predominately stucco, with decorative trim boards.

There are over 2,200 buildings on the Vancouver Heritage Register. Homes on this register are protected from various forms of development, depending on their characteristics of the house and local bylaws. To add your house to the register check out the City of Vancouver's webpage under the section Heritage Conservation. It's an important step to preserving our historical architecture in Canada. There are also many grants to help homeowners preserve their vintage home. Whether it's increasing energy efficiency, repainting or restoring the exterior fabric, information about grants can be found on the Get a Grant section of the Vancouver Heritage Foundation's website. 


All photos courtesy of the Vancouver Heritage Foundation


Researched and Written by Brennan Guse, Environment and Sustainability Undergraduate, University of British Columbia 

Posted In: British Columbia

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