West Toronto Junction, or just “The Junction“, is unique in stade Toronto “The Good”. The Junction, named for the crossing of the Canadian National (CNR) and the Canadian Pacific (CPR) railways, was a booming prosperous late 1890s town with businesses breaking the bulk of the railway, lumber yards, stock yards, a flour mill, a foundry, and included factories that manufactured Nordheiner and Hienztman pianos, in addition to the Canadian Cycle Manufacturing company. Founded in 1884, the Junction later amalgamated with Toronto in 1909 and is currently celebrating the centennial since becoming part of Toronto.
Up until 1997, the Junction exercised local option in being a dry community after prohibition in 1904 (Fancher). At the turn of the century the area had the reputation for heavy drinking, street fights and prostitution that came with many young men migrating into the city for jobs in the new industrial factories.
The active West Toronto Junction Historical Society maintains an archive of Junction historical documents and photos, in addition to producing publications and historical tours of the Junction.
Some of oldest houses in West Toronto Junction date to the 1880s. Many Victorian Bay-and-Gables, identifiable by their tall narrow stance, octagonal or square bays, and steeply pitched peaks can be found closer to the heart of the original town. Larger commercial buildings line the central strip of the Junction along Dundas Street along with many church steeples, library and Mason’s Lodge that were and are a part of the City of West Toronto Junction. Later Edwardian homes were built as part of the expansion of Toronto suburbs located farther away from the “main strip” of the town.
THE LEADER & RECORDER’S: History of the Junction. Diana Fancher, Editor. ISBN 0-9686636-1-3
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Posted in Ugly Things Done to Old Houses, tagged Angelbrick, antique doors, Arts and Crafts, cheap paint, Edwardian, Mission Style, open space, Parged brick, popcorn ceiling, porch, stone cladding, Toronto, Victorian, vinyl siding, vinyl windows, wall-to-wall carpeting on December 13, 2008|
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Take a walk in any urban neighbourhood and you are going to find old houses that have been “destroyed” in any number of ways. Here is my list of some of the worst offences, that is not meant to offend, but will. Feel free to disagree or add your own old house atrocity. This list, if followed carefully, is guaranteed to make your home the biggest eyesore on the block! These are, in current and somewhat crass parlance, “F-ugly” things… Adding up your point total will give you some idea of how much headache you are going to face resurrecting your old house!
Oh how it pains me that there are more than 10 Old House atrocities..
- Vinyl siding (10 points). Off gases and looks horrendous, but of course you never have to get off the couch to actually paint it. Be cautious of any home product that appeals to the Homer Simpson market…
- Vinyl slider windows (15 points). You too can transform a vertical antique sash window into a new vinyl vertical slider! Double the ugly factor if you actually replace vertical sash windows with horizontal vinyl sliders or one pane casement windows. By all means ignore some decent research on windows showing that a properly maintained antique window with storm window gets pretty close to the efficiency of a “thermopaned” window and pour tons of money into shiny new (unpaintable) vinyl windows. And when the thermopane eventually “POPS” and your windows clouds up with condensation, you can reach into your wallet and REPLACE your REPLACEMENT windows again! Everyone wins! Off-gassing plastic windows… I must be in old house atrocities hell. Funny how vinyl windows look like cheap moulded plastic! That is, after all how they are made!
- Poured concrete walk paths (4 points). Really, what is more beautiful than poured concrete with cat paw prints in it! Just mix and pour! No backbreaking placement of antique brick or cobblestone for you!
It is like the sidewalk never ends all the way to my front door… Oh, how I am looking forward to that weekend with a jackhammer! Time I will never get back. I am biting my lip not to mention “interlocking brick”…
- Cheap paint (2 points). When selling a house, smear all the walls with the cheapest vat of paint you can find. Lovely. More reasons to hate your previous owner…
- Stone cladding (10 points). Turn your century Victorian or Edwardian brick home into a medieval stone castle… Seriously, if there is ANYONE still doing this, it is your civic duty to stop them from shaving $40,000 dollars off the purchase price of their home. Lovely in the early 1970s, “Angel-brick”, as known in Toronto, now looks horrid.
- Wall-to-wall carpeting in the century home (5 points). Cover those antique wood floors with plush off-gassing Berber carpeting. Develop chemical sensitives in just 3-6 weeks! Some people seriously cannot give up suburbia…
- Replace antique front door (5 points). Get rid of that old door and replace it with a pre-hung big box store special… fake window mullions and all! Lets all work together to limit the mistakes of suburbia…
- Abode parged brick (10 points). Right… because repointed well maintained brick work never looks good… Colourful neutral parging, on the other hand, is a real winner!
- Popcorn ceiling (2 points). Smooth ceilings in plaster are so barren compared to the stippled magic of the popcorn ceiling. Double your f-ugly points if your popcorn ceiling has fabulous glitter mixed in with it! Yes, by all means, cover your ageing plaster with cottage cheese looking crap. This is another dumb ass lazy quick fix for cracking plaster that aesthetically rewards you for years to come…
- Plastic fences (10 points). Of course, cedar or pine is so last decade. Instead head to your nearest Home Depot and grab a plastic fence! I always wanted a fence made out of pop bottles and, hey, you never have to paint it! Have we identified a theme? If it does not need to be painted, it is probably f-ugly rubbish.
- Tearing down the walls (15 points). Yes, of course, what do you do when you want to live in a SOHO loft, but you own a century Victorian home? You tear down those walls and then find that you live in a main floor bowling alley and the pizza boy can see clear to the backyard! Not to mention the travel of noise, echoes and lack of any architectural interest in your new main floor hanger.
- Paint your house hardware (2 points). Great antique hardware looks even better under as many layers of paint as possible… Kinda like your great aunt that does not know when to stop with the Max Factor…
- Remove Stained Glass Windows (15 points). Why would anyone want a 100 year old antique stained glass window when they could have a thermopane vinyl window. It just makes sense…
- Rip out Original Woodwork (15 points). Original Arts & Craft, Victorian or Edwardian mill work in antique heart-pine, oak or mahogany makes no sense when you can replace it with off the shelf Medium Density Particleboard (MDF) mouldings from your local Big Box home “improvement” store! Do you have any idea what a house would look like if you only used building materials from home depot… Track Mansions anyone?
- “Flash It” (15 points). If you are redoing the roof and you have weather beaten brackets, corbels or barge boards simply FLASH IT! That’s right, cover it up with easy breezy aluminum flashing and be damned the loss of historic character on your house proud home! Tragically ugly. Outwardly, these ugly houses usually have a cheap purchase price and it does not take much to make the old girl look good again.
- Post-modern Pastiche (15 points). Create unique ahistorical housing styles by putting Victorian turned porch spindles on a Arts and Craft Mission porch, Victorian ginger breading on an Edwardian gable, Mediterranean wrought iron on your Victorian stoop, poured concrete majestic lions marking the gates of your Grecco-Victorian masterpiece! If you don’t know you live in a century home, or know a grand Victorian from an stately Edwardian or a cozy Mission Bungalow, then just throw in the towel and put a deposit down on your “deluxe apartment in the sky”.
0-20 Points: Congratulations, your house rocks and it is in nearly original condition! You or the previous owners actually had a clue!
21-50 Points: You got some work to do, but it could be worse. With a little work, you can undo the deeds of idiots.
51-75 Points: You got a project on your hands, but it will be worth the effort and you will love the house in a way you could never look at a suburban track mansion…
76-100 Points: You are an old house champion taking on the idiotic crimes against your old house.
101-150 Points: You are an old house saint. Some years of work and investment will bring back your old house from its F-ugly abyss.
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Knowing the style of the house and how to keep that character is not easy for someone making the transition from apartment or condo living.
Assuming they care, people with old houses are forced onto a learning curve that can be very confusing. It is easy to tell which neighbours care about getting an old house right. Knowing the style of the house and how to keep that character is not easy for someone making the transition from apartment or condo living. Not knowing a Victorian from an Edwardian house and coming to expect “maintenance” after a call placed to the property management company means, like most idiots, I did not have a clue.
So the point of the occasional post is to put out some answers to frequent questions, share some experience from other old house geeks and, hopefully, be of some help to the new home owner who feels completely overwhelmed by their 120 year old pile of bricks. Posts are mostly meant to organize info and resources for work done on our house and hopefully others may find it useful.
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