of the Loire Valley------Chambord___Blois
The Château Style is a grand
adaptation of the sixteenth-century French
châteaux of the Loire Valley. The combined efforts of
François I, Catherine de Medici and Dianne de Poitiers
produced an enchanting mixture of Renaissance Classicism and Gothic
organic design. The fortified castles
of medieval France were translated in Ontario into asymmetrical,
irregular and equally elegant hotels, convents, and imposing private
houses for the wealthy. The bases of this style are
steeply pitched roofs with
plenty of dormers,
turrets, gables, conical towers,
lunettes, and iron
cresting. Ornamentation is lavish with intricate string courses,
corbel tables, finials
and crockets. The walls are generally finished stone or stucco
and the roofs, especially on commercial buildings, are often copper
left to develop a patina of soft green. Château style can
be distinguished from Italian Villa
and Queen Anne Revival by the roof
line and pitch as seen below in the Loire Valley chateaux.
of the Loire Valley
Renaissance years in France saw the solidification of the
French aristocratic system. Francois I and Henry II of France,
and their wives, did much to bring 'civilization' to the
French court. The Châteaux or castles that they built
were both cultural refuges from the harsh realities of the
French feudal system and fortified castles to protect themselves
from the aggressions of the surrounding city states that
eventually became the English, the Italians, the Spanish,
the Germans, and the Dutch.
The French Châteaux are fundamentally
different from either the Italian or the English/German
style of medieval castle. On an Italian Renaissance Palazzo
the window are designed horizontally. Each level is a coherent
unit. On French Châteaux
the windows are more likely to form vertical stripes.
The bands separating the windows are vertical where the
bands on Italian are horizontal. In English castles, a large
moat and keep are the norm, these are rusticated and heavy.
In France the moats and keeps are there, but they are refined,
covered in an ashlar finish and filled with elegant traceries.
The plan of Chambord is quite Renaissance at first
glance. It seems symmetrical. In fact the square within the
square is off center as are the towers. It looks symmetrical
from the front, but in fact a large part of the façade
is merely a screen. The layout of the castle, on further inspection,
is the same as an English medieval castle.
This colour scheme is used on the stables at Casa
Loma below. ChateauBlois
The red brick finish and large white quoins are
indicative of the era.
Chateau Style in Ontario
The Chateau Revival revival is one of the most successful
revivals in 21st century Ontario residential architecture.
The builders are looking back to the elegant lines of the
original Chateau Revivals like Casa Loma and the smaller,
less ornate, but perfectly proportioned and elegantly executed
The simple lines and lack of excessive decoration
make this a much easier style to revive than most. It doesn't
depend on a large quantity of craftsmen who were once a
major force in Ontario construction but who are now, sadly,
disappearing. The Ontario Government is now actively promoting
the building trades and craftsmanship is being focused on
in many Ontario colleges. Not a moment too soon.
history is as extravagant, as extraordinary and as full of surprises
as the building itself. It was started in 1911
by millionaire Sir Henry Pellatt and Canadian architect E. J.
Lennox. The land was called Casa Loma or "house on the
hill" by its previous owner.
took three years and $3.5 million to build. When completed it
surpassed any other private home in North America at the time.
It is not a strictly Chateau style building, but a conglomerate
of many romantic castles from the past. The soaring battlements
and elaborate machicolations could be of either French or English
origin. As well, the secret passageways, the purpose of which
in medieval times was illustrated well by Glenn Close and John
Malkovich in 'Dangerous Liasons', could also have been inspired
by many well known castle in Europe.
it is used for private parties for the Toronto Film Festival,
upscale weddings and a variety of plush affairs. Here well known
Toronto Star contributor Suzanne Robicheau prepares a story
about the latest of many successful renovation projects.
pitched roof line is distinctly Chateau style, as are the rounded
corner turrets and deep machicolations. Oriel windows, such
as this shown on the left, are also found throughout England
opening leading to the garden (closed off by potted plants)
is a four centered arch. The arches on the bay window, right,
are 'Depressed arches' used extensively during the Chateau era
in France (see below)
Style Depressed Arch
The Depressed arch, shown here from Chateau
Chenonceau and illustrated on the left is the most common
arch form of the Chateau style.
formal garden or parterre is also a signature feature of the
French Chateaux. Here we see a box hedged fountain. Similar
to those found at Versailles, leading to a symmetrical lawned
flowerbed and two more box hedged gardens.
surrounds the upper terrace. The wall of the walkway has decorative
the decoration, again, could be of French, German or English
origin. Here the corbels are fanciful and medieval in character.
They are more similar to Label Stops in the Loire valley than
those produced in England. See the Label
ways the stables at Castle Loma are as impressive as the castle
itself. Built out of brick, like many of the secondary buildings
in Blois, Ussé, and other château
towns, these stables have many medieval features reproduced
in fine detail. The central portal
has an impressive surround with
affronted lions perched on battlemented
turrets, a roundel,
side of the portal are brick towers
complete with machicolations, decorative
loop holes - once used for shooting arrows - merlons - used
for the same purpose - and pepper pot roofs.
The deeply sloped roof is made
of red slate and has small dormers.
The overall effect is quite spectacular.
This beautiful older Château
style residence has all the charm that some of the newer versions
are looking for. It is understated and unadorned, but with a
steep roof and dormers,
multiple chimneys, asymmetrical layout,
tower and French
doors. The front entrance has a small portico
with a round-headed arch and an iron
The colour scheme is subtly pleasing.
It is designed by Hamilton architect John M. Lyle.
Style in Civic, Commercial and Religious Buildings
The Great Mortality, as it was called, was responsible
for many things, good and bad. French, which was the accepted
language in England was replaced by English as there were
no teachers left who spoke French. The aristocracy spoke
French for many years thereafter. The forests which had
been all but decimated over the past few hundred years were
allowed to rebuild themselves. Most of the great forests
of Europe date from no earlier than the 14th century. By
1720, the plague left 80,000 dead in one year in Marseilles,
and was then replaced by smallpox. Because buildings, and
in particular housing, were being made less and less with
thatch the rats that carried the plague microbe had no where
to live and the microbe left.
Architecturally, builders were working through
their local versions of Gothic. People north of the Alps
had never seen the ruins in Rome and Greece, and did not
know any Classical rules, much less ways in which to break
them. Renaissance details were filtering through into the
north through artists who migrated north for the patronage
of French and English kings, and through pattern books that
were being sold to builders and designers. Often the patterns
were simply applied, generally incongruously, onto buildings
with no attempt to integrate them into a centralized plan.
The steep pitches on roofs and the asymmetrical plans of
the north were embellished by pediments, colonettes
The machicolated tower,
tall gabled wall dormers,
projecting upper floors, battlementing,
and steep metal-clad Mansard roof
of the Château Laurier in Ottawa make it one of Ontario's
most easily recognizable Château style buildings. Small
turrets, pepper pot roofs and scalloping
make it more picturesque than the nearby Château style
government buildings (below).
During the first decades of the twentieth century,
the Canadian Pacific Railway built many railway hotels in this
style. The lavish design and opulence were thought to be the
style that expressed Canadian nationalism.
Court of Canada building in Ottawa illustrates the Château
style toned down for use on a government building. This, and
similar local buildings, were the result of a search for an
architecture that expressed a national identity. The Parliament
Buildings, completed in the Gothic
Revival style, had similar stone exterior
finishes and deeply sloping roofs,
but the government officials were keen to create a new style
that reflected less the British heritage and more the influence
of French-Canadian buildings.
Convent in Hamilton was designed by Marani architects and built
out of local limestone by Pigott Construction. Although it looks
much older, it was actually constructed in 1950.
cupola and square tower
have a medieval feel to them while the large front gable
end is very reminiscent of Loire Château
style, particularly Angers. Roundels
are found on both the gable and the tower. The steeply pitched
metal-clad roof has small dormers.
There is a discrete Classical main door
surround and recessed arched window
surrounds, but otherwise the façade is without ornament.
The building has been renovated
and modernized, and is still used as a convent.
Reading and Films
Bolton, Jerry, The
Renaissance Bazaar, Oxford ; New York : Oxford University
Blumenson, John. Ontario
Architecture A Guide to Styles and Terms.
Cruickshank, Tom, and John de Visser,
Houses,Toronto: Firefly Books, 2003.
Cruickshank, Tom, and John de Visser,
Houses,Toronto: Firefly Books, 2000.
MacRae, Marion, and
Anthony Adamson. The
Ancestral Roof: Domestic Architecture of Upper Canada.
Toronto: Clarke, Irwin, 1963.
information on Georgian architecture in specific areas within
Ontario there are some very good books listed under the
Girard Depardieu, The
Return of Martin Guerre
Shakespeare, As You Like
Shakespeare, Much Ado
Shakespeare, Romeo and
Gwenyth Paltrow, Joseph
Fiennes, Shakespeare in Love