Modest Hopes

Overview

Celebrating the row houses, semis, and cottages that are an important but forgotten part of the Toronto narrative.

Too often workers’ cottages are characterized today as being small, cramped, poorly built, and disposable. But in the late 1800s, to have worked and saved enough money to move into one was an incredible achievement. Moving from the crowded conditions of boarding houses, or areas such as Toronto’s Ward or Ashport’s “shanty-town,” to a self-contained, six-hundred-square-foot row house was the result of an unimaginably strong hope, belief, and commitment for the future.

For the workers and their families, these houses were far from modest. The architectural details of these cottages suggested status, value, and pride of place; they reminded them of where they had come from, with architectural roots from their homeland.

These “modest hopes” are an under-valued heritage resource and an important but forgotten part of the Toronto narrative about the people who lived in them and who built our city.

About the Authors

Don Loucks

Posted by Kendra on October 1, 2019
Don Loucks photo

Don Loucks

Don Loucks is an architect, urban designer, and cultural heritage planner, with forty years of project experience. He is committed to environmental, economic, and cultural sustainability, and to preserving the variety of rich urban forms that contain the stories of our communities’ history. He lives in Toronto.

Leslie Valpy

Posted by Kendra on October 1, 2019
Leslie Valpy photo

Leslie Valpy

Leslie Valpy is a conservation practitioner, researcher, and writer, with a passion for built heritage, history, architecture, and conservation. Working with both intangible and tangible dimensions of heritage, she has participated in a range of projects throughout Ontario. She lives in Toronto.