Cabbagetown’s an excellent place for walks that take in an array of architecture with countless special homes and fascinating details! Presenting a few of our favourites!
Let’s talk about clinker bricks. An excellent example of recycling, you can see them deep inside Cabbagetown’s Riverdale Farm, at what is now called the Residence, built in 1902 as the Zookeeper’s residence.
Local Historian Giles Huot of the Cabbagetown Preservation Association gives us the dirt on those bricks. “A clinker brick is an “overcooked” or overheated brick that would have broken during firing which would have been discarded, likely thrown into a pile where it would “clink” when hitting others,” he explains. “In the late 19th century and early 20th, these were often recycled (they were cheap or even free!). Since they are fragments of bricks, they would often be used sideways rather than lengthwise, often blackened, which give them that characteristic rough look. They even became a staple in the Arts and Crafts Movement architecture.”
And in Riverdale Farm, where there is not only the Residence, but Simpson House near the front entrance, plus lovely barns and sties and coops on view.
Award winning homes of today
Winner of the 2015 Peggy Kurtin Restoration Award from the Cabbagetown Preservation Association and originally built in 1876, 377 Sackville Street, the former home of Francis Shields, a drover, is unique. “There is not another house like it in the city,” according to Patricia McHugh in her book Toronto Architecture, A City Guide. Notable features include the second Empire or Mansard roof and window treatments. Renovated by Weenen General Contracting Limited, the home’s interior features carefully chosen details such as tiles imported specially from Mexico.
Likewise, at 397 Carlton Street, what was originally the home of James Reeve, a barrister was, according to McHugh’s book, the first on the block when it was built in 1883 in “a pleasing Italianate villa style in what was still a countrified part of the City.” In 2017 this home won the Peggy Kurtin Award for Excellence in Renovation for many features, including the brickwork, which was cleaned, repaired, repointed and replaced as needed. No clinker bricks though.
Contributed by Kathy Flaxman for Weenen General Contracting Limited