Sunday, April 10, 2016

Costain in Ottawa - Part One: Blackburn Hamlet (Detached Homes)

Some of my long-time readers may remember that I did a series of posts on Costain a few years ago. For some reason, a few of my older posts have vanished from my blog - for reasons unknown to me. So, I have re-created this post on the builder Costain due to interest from some of my readers. On the positive side, I have been able to get my hot little paws on some new floor plans and marketing material, so there is more material in this post compared to the original (now lost) post!

In the mid-1960s the builder Costain (originally from England, but with an impressive global portfolio) came to Ottawa to develop a new hamlet in the eastern greenbelt called Blackburn Hamlet. 

Today Blackburn Hamlet is very lush with mature trees and extensive parkland, surrounded by the NCC Greenbelt. The west side of Blackburn Hamlet has 3 neighbourhoods separated by parkland, Westpark, Southpark and Centrepark. The Northpark and Eastpark neighbourhoods are located to the east, and I believe that this area was developed after the west side. South of Innes Road is another area that is predominantly townhouses, with detached houses on the east side.

Costain's portfolio of house designs in Blackburn Hamlet grew over the years (they built in the area well in to the 1970s), some of which were also built in their Orleans development. This post will focus on detached houses built in Blackburn Hamlet in particular, but some of the designs were built in Orleans. The older designs are presented first, with later additions below - you will notice a change in the design of the floor plan brochures. I was recently able to get a hold of some Costain plans from Erin Mills in Mississauga from the 1970s and many of the designs are similar to those built in Ottawa during the same time. 

I have collected these plans over a number of years and some are of better quality than others. I may also be missing a handful of plans, so if any of my readers have copies of better quality plans or missing plans, I would love to share them - so please let me know! 

In terms of house prices, Costain-built detached houses in Blackburn hamlet average around $460,000 (based on sales between April 2015-April 2016). Some smaller designs have sold in the $300,000 range and some larger and fully renovated designs selling in the high $500,000s, with premiums being paid for those backing on to the greenbelt.

Stay tuned for more posts on Costain, including their townhouse/carriage home designs and their developments in Orleans.


  1. Hey Paul, great post as usual.

    I thought I'd post a few tidbits from some thesis readings that pertains to Costain. It's about land development and monopolization patterns transitioning from the 1960s to 1970s. The stats at the end are the bit about Costain. Before this I would have figured Costain had grown as a local builder, would not have guessed they came over as an international firm.

    From Peter Spurr's 'Land and Urban Development - A preliminary Study, 1976
    “A regional planning study undertaken in 1958 concluded that new developments would occur outside the greenbelt along major approach roads. By the early 1960's, the regional population approached the 500,000 level Greber forecast for the year 2000, and while vacant land remained within the greenbelt, its price was escalating rapidly.”

    “The east-west expressway had terminated at the Greenbelt's interior edge but it seemed clear that it would extend to leave the greenbelt near the March-Goulbourn boundary to the west, and at the Orleans area to the east. Accordingly, developers began assembling large tracts at these exit points and along the highways immediately south of the greenbelt near manotick on the Rideau River. In 1963 a second planning study showed large scale future growth at the eastern, southern and particularly the western greenbelt limits. In 1964, the NCC produced a population projection which located 65,000, 120,000, and 180,000 people in these respective nodes by the year 2001.”

    “Co-incident with this planning activity, developers had continued to assemble land at the three nodes and by 1965 the major firms had about 20 years supply in hand.”

    “Institutionalized concentration of ownership is evident:
    -In the western node where Campeau Corporation's “Kanata” plan would house 65,000 people on the 3,200 acres, the regional goal is to accommodate 100,000
    -In the eastern node where richard costain (Canada) Ltd's “Convent Glen” is to house 30,000 on 790 acres, the regional target is 35,000.
    -In the southeastern and southwestern nodes would each contain 100,000 people – the former is 4,500 acres owned by the Ontario Housing Corporation while the latter is primarily owned by the Campeau Corporation and Jockvale Reality.”

  2. Hi,

    I really like your blog! While I was driving around Ottawa yeaterday, I saw a mid century house of Sherbourne Road. I think the address is 638 Sherbourne. Can you tell me anything about this house?


    1. Hi there,

      I suspect that house was built by Teron as a handful of the houses in that neighbourhood were built by the builder. I wrote a bit about this pocket in an older post:

      Take care,

  3. Hi,

    I lived in a Silver Maple and always thought it was the mansard-roofed version of the Mountain Ash but your floorplan of it (same B# as the MA) has an astist's concept that looks identical to the MA. I wonder if the SM could be considered a minor refresh of the MA, like the Sycamore is of the Crimson King.

    Did you ever get a floorplan of Sandbury Homes' "Renaissance" model in Orleans' Fallingbrook area? That 80s house design floored me when I first saw the kitchen and the master bedroom. A realtor created a Youtube video of a Renassiance for sale and it still looks big. 3500+ square feet.


    1. Hello Victor,

      It is likely that the SM is a minor refresh of the MA.

      I do have the floor plan for the Sandbury Renaissance. If you would like you can email me through the contacts link on the blog and I can email you a copy.

      Take care,

  4. Hi: Did you find any information on the drainage systems installed in the woods behind Beechmont and Oakhurst Crescents when the houses were built in 1972? These were designed to take winter runoff to the city sewer system thus preventing large pools of stagnant water from forming.

    1. Interesting! I have not come across any information on the drainage systems with the floor plans and marketing material I have for Blackburn Hamlet.

  5. Thanks for the great blog. We love our Knotty pine, but are hoping to convert it to a Juniper (with MBR shower)...thought the shower was a build option but now I See they called it a new model.

    Anyway, minor typo:

    The west side of Blackburn Hamlet has 3 neighbourhoods separated by parkland, Westpark, Southpark and Centrepark. The Northpark and EASTpark neighbourhoods are located to the east, and I believe that this area was developed after the west side

  6. I have been looking for the plans for my home, which I think is a Linden. Do you have an idea where I should look. You seem to have almost everything else.