W.G. MacKendrick’s 1910 move into north Rosedale’s Roxborough Drive typified the contemporary search for a near-city yet away-from the city environment.
He designed and built an English “cottage” surrounded by a landscaped ravine garden that merged with the creek below.
The architecture reflected the fashion for homes that returned one to “the simple life.” A reaction against the Victorian taste for adornment, dark wood, clutter and drapery, the new interiors stressed light, clean surfaces and natural materials.
Such popular magazines as Country Life proposed that the English gentry’s elegantly rustic lifestyle was now available without its famously primitive domestic arrangements. Modern comfort, efficiency and hygiene, along with traditional environments, could be acquired from the magazine’s trade pages.
This version of English tradition was defined and marketed in Toronto for an upper middle class as the “garden suburbs” of Lawrence Park Estates. Its creator, John Dinnick, promoted his subdivision as a gateway to a leisure-oriented world, one in which sports and other social activities were set in carefully groomed lawns and ornamental gardens.
Similar subdivisions such as Chestnut Park in north Rosedale, developed on former private estate grounds, and Baby Point by the Humber River, were planned for the emergent professional class. The year-round-cottage, oriented towards its garden, was declared by market choice to be the key to the good life in Toronto.
To attract Toronto investors in 1910, an Oakville subdivision that was in its most preliminary survey stage boasted of the tonic of country air and the punctual commuter rail service.
Even before the paving of Lakeshore Road in 1916 the town had been a favorite country-drive destination. Its reputation as a summering place of the wealthy and rural appeal were the selling points of Oakville’s fledgling Tuxedo Park.
As in Toronto’s subdivisions the value of a lot is objectively related to the beauty of the landscape, the existence of municipal infrastructure, the social status of the area and the degree to which its restrictive character is ensured through city ordinances regulating building type and lot size.
To read more go to Menu: “Paving the Way to Paradise…” Chapter 4.
1. Photograph of Marilyn Scriver, daughter of Corinne Lowry, back note: ‘Home of Col. W.G. MacKendrick, prior to 1923 (east side of Mount Pleasant, south side toward top of hill (detail)
2. W.G. MacKendrick and family, 1905, collection Gordon MacKendrick
3. Advertisement for lots in the North Rosedale Subdivision, ca. 1908, Toronto Reference Library (detail)
4.-7 Contemporary advertisement images
8. city of toronto archives Fonds 1244 item 43 Yonge St.(detail)
9.-10 illustrations, Lawrence Park Estates: a formal & artistic grouping of ideal homes owned by the Dovercourt Land, Building and Savings Company. 1910
11.-12 Marketing Booklet For The Brantwood Survey, Town of Oakville by the Cumberland Land Co. Ltd. 1913 Oakville Historical Society