Monday, March 28, 2011

Campeau in Alta Vista

One of the biggest builders in Ottawa during the 1950s and 1960s was Campeau Construction, a name still known today, even though the builder is no longer active. Many of the houses in Alta Vista were custom built, but Campeau was one of the first builders to construct tract homes in the area.
Approximate locations of areas where Campeau built
Beginning in the 1950s Campeau began building houses southwest of Kilborn Avenue and Alta Vista Drive, north of Randall Avenue. At the time, bungalows and one-and-a-half storey houses were most popular. Many of the “Victory Houses” built by Wartime Housing Ltd. for returning veterans after WWII were one-and-a-half stories, and the style soon became very popular for all builders. Below are some of Campeau's one-and-a-half storey plans built in the area:



With time, the one-and-a-half storey house became less popular, and bungalows and split-level houses became the norm. An easy way to determine the age of houses on a street in Alta Vista is to look at the style of the houses. If there are many one-and-a-half storey houses, the houses on the street were probably built in the early 1950s. Bungalows became very popular in the late 1950s and 1960s, and split level plans more popular in the mid-to-late 1960s. Below are some of Campeau's bungalow plans built in Alta Vista:



The CMHC, or Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (then called the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation), published a series of plan books from the late 1940s to the 1970s with houses suitable to be built in Canada. Many of Campeau’s early houses look to be built from these plans, or at least very much inspired by them.
Some of the early houses in Alta Vista built by Campeau have a very similar plan to this CMHC design.
The area northwest of Kilborn Avenue and Alta Vista Drive was developed as "Applewood Acres" by Campeau. While the majority of houses in the area were build by Campeau, there are some streets with custom built houses (many from CMHC plans), as well some custom designed houses built by Garand. According to a Campeau brochure from the late 1950s, 350 houses were built by the company in Applewood Acres.
A CMHC plan built in Applewood Acres

A custom built house in Applewood Acres
While the majority of houses in Alta Vista are detached, Campeau constructed one of the few pockets of semi-detached houses in Applewood Acres.

The least built type of houses in 1950s and 1960s were two storey models. I believe this has a lot to do with the whole idea of the suburban lifestyle, and having the luxury of land which allows for a sprawling house on one level. Two storey houses were more common in older areas like the Glebe, where lot sizes were generally narrower. So, even if technically the house wasn’t on a sprawling ranch property, having a bungalow at least eluded to idea of having a lot of land. That being said, Campeau built a few two-storey models, most based on the same basic plan, just differing in the sizes of the rooms:


Many of the Campeau plans built in Alta Vista and Applewood Acres were also built in Elmvale Acres, Queensway Terrace and Bel-Air Heights - often with slight variations.

By request, here is the B-5 plan:
 

30 comments:

  1. do you know of any semis or townhomes with a mid-century aesthetic?

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  2. I am so happy I found your blog! I just purchased a MSM home in Elmvale Acers :) I am originally from Toronto and didn't really know too much about the area I purchased in until I started looking and I am so excited to bring that MSM feel to my new home!

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  3. Good Question Urban Girl. I will do an upcoming posting on mid-century townhomes and semis in Ottawa!

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  4. Hey! Where did you find these awesome floor plans? I live in the Elmvale Acres area and I'd love to find a floor plan of my house...

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  5. I live in and own one of the models above in Applewood Acres(with minor changes - one room reversed) - so neat to learn the history - thank you!

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  6. love my campeau built townhouse in the hunt club area thank you Mr. Campeau

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  7. So happy to discover your blog! In Jan 2011 we purchased a 1954 MSM Campeau-built bungalow from the orignal owners. The lovely elderly couple gave us 1954 CMHC floor plan booklets, and a wrought iron "welcome" key-thermometer that Campeau gave to new home-owners. If you would like to see these items, answer my post:) I would be happy to contribute to your wonderful archive.

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  8. Saul, I found your blog while looking for some info on our house. The original owners switched the main floor master and the kitchen, and we want to put it back. Trouble is, we can't really visualize how it would have been set up and I can't seem to find any info on it! The design for the 1.5 story CMHC house (#309) is basically ours, but not quite... windows and chimney are different. Where do you get your floorplans from? I am very interested to find mine! We live on Donald St near St Laurent (castle Heights/Overbrook). For some reason my gmail won't let me in to email you so if you wouldn't mind sending me a message that would be fantastic!
    I am so glad I found your blog it is full of some much awesome. Feel free to check out my blog, Adventures in Retro Renovating. Long Live MCM!
    ps have you checked out the pocket of MCM that is castle heights? Built around 1953 by Campeau mostly, it used to be called Eastview!

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  9. Hello! I would love to see the Campeau 'welcome' key and CMHC floor plan books. You can reach me via email at Saul@homesinottawa.com

    Thanks!

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  10. Hi lilynymph! I am glad you found my blog! I will do an upcoming blog post on Castle Heights/Overbrook (Eastview) and see if I have the plan for your house. I did check out your blog - and love it!

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  11. This blog is AWESOME im still addicted. Saul if you look at wellington village where I grew up on "Grange Street" I'm wondering if these were campeau houses or are these all individual builders as every single house on the street is different...

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    1. The houses on Grange Street would most likely have been built by individual builders, or even the first owners themselves - based on plan books published at the early part of the 20th century. Some may even be mail-order kit houses, sold through Sears, Eatons, etc.

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  12. Hi Saul,
    I have owned 2 houses in the Applewood Acres community one on Randall Ave. (Blue area) and one on Winther Ave. (Red area) I am interested in the history and plans of both homes. Would you have these?
    Also, I grew up in Glen Cairn and noticed you had some of the plans for Costain, etc.. How about the 2-storey 5-bedroom (semi-detached) models?
    How would one go about finding these?

    Chris
    Sparky812@hotmaildotcom

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  13. Hi there, I found it very cool to see these old floor plans. Do you happen to know why none of the plans have a powderroom or bathroom on the main level?

    Thank you
    Louisa

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    1. Thanks for the question! Having a main floor powder room was not common in many suburban houses until the 1970s. In the immediate postwar period, having many bathrooms would have been viewed as excessive (and an unneeded expense), but today they are pretty much standard in new home construction. Likewise, with time main floor family rooms and computer lofts have become commonplace in suburban housing design.

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  14. Wow - cool Blog. You clearly have a passion and a great deal of knowledge for the mid-century Campeau built homes. I am buying one in Elmvale Acres (I believe construction date is ~ 1959). I'm wondering if you would know about the construction materials used (ie: plaster) and if it would have asbestos in the plaster walls / ceilings? I'd like to do a reno involving remoiving one of the walls, and it would be helpful to know.

    Cheers!
    ASW

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  15. Thanks for the comments and question! I am actually not very familiar with the construction materials used on Campeau-built houses. The historic documents I have do not usually go into such details. A professional like a building inspector would be the best source of information for such details.
    Enjoy your new house and the renovations to make it your own!

    Regards,
    Saul

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  16. Hi Saul - I am just now discovering this blog - love it!
    My wife and I have recently purchased a Campeau house in Elmvale (on Hamlet Road) and after randomly speaking with an elderly gentleman walking by, we learned that he happened to be an original owner (!) of a house of the same model as ours down the street.

    He informed us that we are living in a B-5 model. Do you happen to have the B-5 plans anywhere? We would love to see it!

    Best regards,

    William

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  17. Hi Saul - I am just now discovering this blog - love it!
    My wife and I have recently purchased a Campeau house in Elmvale (on Hamlet Road) and after randomly speaking with an elderly gentleman walking by, we learned that he happened to be an original owner (!) of a house of the same model as ours down the street.

    He informed us that we are living in a B-5 model. Do you happen to have the B-5 plans anywhere? We would love to see it!

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    1. I have just uploaded the B-5 plan to the end of this post. Enjoy!!

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  18. We just recently purchases a Campeau home in the Leslie park area. I have been searching though plans with no luck. It apparently was the model home for the development and I have only found one other similar one in the area so far. Did you have other plans that are not uploaded or would you have any recommendations as to where to I could maybe track down a set of plans?

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    1. Hello Trish,

      I have spent decades trying to track down some of the plans in my collection...so they are sometimes really hard to find! I do have many Campeau plans from the Leslie Park area that are not up on the blog yet. You can always email me a picture of the front of your house and I will see if I have the plan in my collection. My email address is found by clicking on the "about me" section to the right of the blog and then clicking on email.

      Take care,
      Saul

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    2. I just noticed your reply now. I did dig a little further into plans you had uploaded and I did end up finding our house. It was the s-130. We just moved in today and still love all the uniqueness of the house.
      Thanks again. ☺

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  19. I love your blog! Do you have any information on the homes built in the west-end neighbourhood of Braemar Park? The main streets are Belair, Garfield, and Savoy. The homes in there seem quite different from those in Belair Park and Belair Heights, yet they are apparently the same builder. Any info is appreciated!

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    1. Great question! That little pocket was built as the executive homes of Braemor Park by Campeau. I have some of the plans for the area. At the moment I am working on a few upcoming blog postings, but I will definitely post the plans I have in the next little while...so stay tuned!

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  20. Hi there - I like your blog as well. I lived in a Campeau home and its neat to see the history preserved. Thank you for the great work !!

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  21. Was asbestos used in any of the Campeau houses in Elmvale Acres, model A2, built in 1950?

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    1. Good question...but unfortunately I do not know the answer. Maybe one of the readers owns a similar home and can answer?

      ~Saul

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  22. We are in Leslie Park and have a campeau built in that era, we also have friends in a campeau in alta visa from the same era. We both had asbestos. We had tiles in our basement that contained it and our popcorn ceiling. We assume it is in the drywall as well. It's all considered type one asbestos which is low risk and not a issue unless it is distributed.

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