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Building Styles

Georgian (1750 - 1850)

Origins --- --- Georgian Architecture

Georgian in Britain------Salisbury___Twickenham

Upper St. Lawrence--- Maitland--- Brockville--- Burrits Rapids-

The Butler Residence--- Facade--- Fireplaces--- Macaulay House-

Lake Ontario--- Picton---- Waupoos- --- Port Credit--- Port Hope--- Clarkson----Waterdown-- Springdale-
---- Simcoe ----- Westfield General Store--

Niagara---- Niagara-on-the-Lake--- Queenston---

North Western Ontario --- Sault Ste. Marie--- Goderich--- ----


The Georgian Style was brought to Upper Canada (Canada, prior to 1867, was known as Upper Canada - Ontario and the west - and Lower Canada - anywhere down the St. Lawrence River) by United Empire Loyalists, the citizens who decided to remain loyal to the crown in the war between England and the United States (1755 - 1778). By 1780, a significant number of people were emigrating to Canada from Great Britain, and these people brought with them the Georgian style, among others, as well.

Georgian Architecture

Their first homes were log houses. These were replaced by solid stone, brick or clapboard buildings as soon as possible. The style was cumulative of architectural fashion in Britain during the reign of the first three King Georges of England (1750 - 1820). Georgian architecture in Britain and in Canada was a modification of the Renaissance

style adapted throughout Europe during the 18th century. It was a variation on the Palladian style which was known for balanced façades, muted ornament, and minimal detailing. Simplicity, symmetry, and solidity were the elements to be strived for. The Upper Canadian at this time wanted a sturdy house that reflected his simple dignity. These houses were very much more than the need for shelter. AS Ann MacRae has stated, they were "a physical expression of the cultural mental climate of the first settlers of Upper Canada".(MacRae, p. 4) Log houses were good shelters, but they were not architectural. The floor plans and details were constructed according to the English Georgian styles and were meant to give the same impression. The site was chosen with great care to afford the most pleasant view for the new occupants.

Georgian houses are generally so well built that they are virtually unchanged 200 years later. The style is so pleasing that it is used extensively in Colonial Revival subdivisions in the late 20th century.

Georgian in Britain

The 18th century was a time of growing solidity in England. The uncertainty of the Tudor years in the 16th century with the religious wars and violence that accompanied the growing nation of England was replaced by an equally uncertain century of Scottish rule, dissolution of the monarchy under Charles I, intervention by Cromwell and subsequent restoration of the crown under Charles II. The Acts of Union, 1707, united the two crowns of England and Scotland under one crown and a comparatively stable democratic Government. This was the agreement that lead to the partnership of forces that was the beginning of the British Empire. Britain experienced unprecedented prosperity, an ever more affluent society with a flourishing middle class.

With prosperity comes of flowering of the arts. In music there was Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and Haydn. In literature Jane Austin, Coleridge, Fielding and Wordsworth, and the visual artists Blake, Constable and Gainsborough among others.

Georgian architecture in Britain was, like Victorian in Canada, the term used for all styles of architecture created during the reign of the Kings George. These included Palladian, Gothic and Chinoiserie or Exotic. In Canada, the Georgian style was a strict interpretation of the Palladian Classical.

Click Hotpoints for descriptions of terms in both text and images.


This is the Royal Military College in Winchester England.


Georgian College 12 over 12 Sash Windows Chimney Sash Window Pediment

Winchester England


This is a Georgian terrace from Dublin Ireland. The doors are simple with Florentine pediments but otherwise unadorned. There are three stories, all with sadsh windows. The exterior is brick with white wood accents.

This type of terrace can be seen all across Ontario.

Georgian Twickenham,

Twickenham England

Upper Saint Lawrence River

The many rivers and tributaries leading to the St. Lawrence provided beautiful settings and adequate transportation for farmers hoping to make a good living in the new land. Smaller outreaches like Burrits Rapids were off the main thoroughfares, and thus less vulnerable to attach from the Yankees on the south side of the River. Choice lots, whether on the St. Lawrence or its many tributaries, were always accessible by water.


The houses here were mostly made of stone, but wood and brick can also be found, particularly in the subsequent Neo-Classical style.



Georgian features of this simple stone house in Maitland include sash windows, symmetrical five bays, half-round fanlight over the door, and a gable roof with two chimneys. The windows have simple jack arches, and the door has a half-round arch with cut-stone voussoirs. There is a simple stone band under the second floor windows and a simple cornice.

For anyone interested in Georgian or stone building, a trip to Maitland will be worth it. There are many original stone buildings as well as a stone tower overlooking the St. Lawrence River.

Georgian Stone House

Maitland Ontario


This main street house in Brockville is a smaller version of the above. Notice how both have round headed arches above the door. This seems to be a regional variation.

Georgian House



This is a very simple and charming rounded fanlight. Notice the plain trim and return.

The two sided step is a baroque style, about the same time period. It allows for a sizable landing even though the sidewalk is very close.

Georgian House Gable MacCaulay House Door Shutters Fanlight Gable Voussoirs Shutters Fanlight



Many Georgian 'in town' buildings were quite humble. Here is a duplex on the main street of Brockville that is made from brick. Most of the other georgians in this area are of stone. The doors are more like those on the st laurence and west.

Georgian House Gable Voussoirs Shutters Fanlight


Burritts Rapids

Here is another classic five bay Georgian house with a high gable roof and two chimneys. This could be a later Georgian house judging from the sash windows that are six-over six meaning that the glass panes are larger than in earlier houses. Also the door has a very ornate fanlight, still half-round, but certainly more intricate than earlier examples.

Around the fanlight is an impressive arch made from cut-stone voussoirs and over the windows are the usual jack arches. The house is situated on the bank of the Rideau River with a beautiful view over the water, another feature often found in Georgian homes.

Georgian House Gable Voussoirs Shutters Fanlight

Burritts Rapids Ontario

Georgian Interiors

The current owners of the Butler Residence vrey kindly let me into the building to photograph the details. Every part of the building has been wonderfully restored.

The mouldings, flooring and other wooden elements of the building are as big and solid as the exterior stone. The mouldings are plain but elegant.


Georgian buildings will be squared off with quoins. These are large masonry units projecting vertically up the corners of the structure and along the sides of doors and windows. In fact the word quoin comes from the French word for corner; they are used to provide straight edges for wooden door and window frames as well as a clean overall profile. This beautiful residence in Grafton is as clean and prescise as you can gte. The Virginia Creeper softens the look, but it is still sturdy and dependable.

Georgian Stone House

Grafton Ontario

The Butler Residence

The front entrance is welcoming and quietly dignified.

Georgian House


The Butler Residence

The living room fireplace is small and elegant. It is a Rumford style. These are very shallow fireplaces that throw the heat back into the room.

Georgian House Gable Voussoirs Shutters Fanlight Gable Voussoirs Shutters Fanlight


The Butler Residence

The Georgian kitchen is large enough to cook in. This fabulous original fireplace also has an oven in the side. A working crane and a couple of andirons complete the picture.

Georgian House Gable Voussoirs Shutters Fanlight


Macaulay House

MacCaulay House Door Gable Voussoirs Shutters Fanlight

Burritts Rapids Ontario


Shores of Lake Ontario

All along the oast of Lake Ontario small communities were popping up. The escarpment provided a good source of stone and relatively easy access to a major waterway provided glass and other building materials from England and later from the United States. Field stone and quarried limestone are both used on the Georgian buildings in this area.



This house is gorgeous any time of year but really spectacular in autumn.


A five bay Georgian with traditional shutters and door, the windows were replaced later in the 19th century.

Georgian House

Picton Ontario


This house looks as if it has been lovingly restored. That is putting it mildly. This house was condemned and the owners took it apart, moved it by about 25 miles, and rebuilt it. It is now a beautiful B&B well worth a visit at any time of the year.

Georgian House

Waupoos Ontario

Door Detail - Waupoos

The finish in this house is white clapboard. The side of the clapboard sheets is a good indication of the location and age of the building. For example, clapboard in Prince Edward Island from the same period is much thinner.


This is an impressive door, almost Neo-Classical with the engaged pilasters - complete with fluting and capitals. The fanlight and lovely 'key' is beautifully restored.


All the windows are 12/12 sash.

Georgian House

Waupoos Ontario

Port Credit

The Cotton House built by Robert Cotton about 1856 is a good example of a clapboard Georgian. The façade is symmetrical with shuttered six-over-six sash windows and an elegant transom and side lights around the door. Two chimneys indicate that there were two fireplaces.

The house was originally part of a large estate. Robert Cotton was a Justice of the Peace, a businessman who ran, among other things, the Port Credit General Store, and a member of the local government The house remains a private residence.

Georgian House

Port Credit Ontario

Port Hope

This is an urban carriage house probably not used as a residence for at least part of its lifespan. There are two separate entrances on either side of a carriageway. The horse and buggies or horses would have been driven through the carriageway and tethered at the rear of the building.

The windows are 12-over -12 sash, the detailing is all white and there are simple transoms over the doors with no side lights. The carriageway is simply framed with a pseudo three-centered arch, a type of arch popular in the Elizabethan period. There is no cornice detailing or ornament of any kind.

Georgian Urban Building

Port Hope Ontario


Georgian House

Toronto Ontario


Georgian Door Toronto

Georgian House

Toronto Ontario


Like many Georgian houses the Benares house of 1856 had a splendid verandah. The house has the usual sash windows and sturdy front door with transom and sidelights. In addition, it has a frontispiece with a pediment. The verandah, the second floor balcony, and the roof cornice and modillions are decorative accents indicating an affluent owner.

Benares is now a period museum open to the public. The grounds are impressive and there is a large modern museum and exhibition space on the property.

Georgian House

Clarkson Ontario


Here is another beautifully maintained Georgian house made in vernacular materials. The stone would have come from the Niagara Escarpment, Waterdown is just on the edge. The finish is called "ashlar", a term for stone cut so that the finish is smooth with minimal joints. The door surround is restrained and elegant with a simple square transom and side lights.

Like many Georgian buildings, it is situated brilliantly, on the crest of a hill overlooking a valley.

Georgian Stone House

Waterdown Ontario

Springdale 1810

This house was built in or before 1810 by Hector McKay. It was bought by Joseph Webster in 1819 and remained in his family until the twentieth century.

The front of the house is composed of dressed stone while the back is rubble. Like the others in this area, it has six over six sash windows, a wooden door with side lights and a square transom. The door surround is simple but elegant. There are large stone lintels and well preserved shutters on the windows . The austere lines of the house earned it the designation of Wilderness Georgian.


This door detail illustrates how carefully the owners have preserved the original wood. The reveals are paneled as are the door and base panels. The agraffe above the door is a simple foliage pattern. There are large quoins along the edge of the door made of the same limestone, but in larger blocks than the rest of the façade.



Dundas is a very old community that was originally a working town. There are a lot of very old workers cottages and cottages in the downtown core that have been restored and are in wonderful shape. This is an example of that.



This old Georgian home is now the Museum in Simcoe. It is also a two-storey brick building with six-over-six sash windows and shutters, two chimneys, and a sturdy cornice.

The front entrance has a large transom with two sidelights. The front door is new, and the front entrance may be newer than the building.

Georgian House in Simcoe

Simcoe Ontario

Westfield Village

This beautifully restored georgian store front in Westfield has a false-front,

Georgian Store Westfield Village

Westfield Village Ontario

Niagara and Area

One of the interesting features of the early buildings in Ontario is the difference in building materials. Where Hamilton area is mostly stone, Niagara is almost exclusively wood. This was partly due to the origins of the population. Loyalists made up a major portion of the Niagara residents while British immigrants moved more into the Hamilton area.

The war of 1812 destroyed a huge portion of early Niagara, but there is still enough left in the Georgian style to make it a significant area of study.


In Niagara-on-the-Lake the houses are made with a wood siding veneer more often than with stone or brick. This house was probably rebuilt after the War of 1812, but the original 12-over -12 windows and symmetrical bays remain as in the original. The front door detail is very simple with a cornice and rectangular side lights. The amount of window area on the façade is more than in the original Georgian designs, but, again, may have been modified after the 1812 war.

Georgian House in Niagara

Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario

Niagara-on the-Lake

Georgian doors are very sturdy and quite simple. This two-fielded panel door has a strong central knocker. The door handle was added much later; a Georgian gentleman's door was always opened from within. The lady of the house or a maid-servant always in the house to take care of any visitors.

The transom and sidelights are quite plain and made from original small panes of glass. Above the door is a simple classical cornice and entablature, and the sides are framed in sturdy unfluted pilasters. Like many Georgian houses, the door detailing is white.

Georgian Door

Door 12 over 12 Sash Windows Transom Transom Entablature Sidelight Sidelight Doorknocker Cornice


Handle Detail

Details from Niagara-on-the-Lake


Northern and North-Western Ontario

The people who settled west of lake Ontario were the type of hardy adventurous individuals that make good movie footage. For settlers like Ermatinger, there were no boundaries, either on geography or on what could be accomplished in one lifetime.

The building material here, again, is stone, but it is a completely different quality of stone. Fieldstone made of quartz and other glacier deposit stones not limestone from the escarpment.

Sault Ste. Marie

This is the oldest stone building northwest of Toronto. It was built in 1813 for Charles Oakes Ermatinger, a fur trader, merchant, and Justice of the Peace.

Typical of the style are the two chimneys, the 12-over -12 sash windows, the low pitched roof, and the relatively plain door. Wooden window shutters and a pedimented portico complete the picture. It was constructed from vernacular materials - mostly river stone. The shutters would have been closed in the winter to keep out the cold.

Georgian House 12 over 12 Sash Windows Pediment Portico Chimney Sash Window Shutter Shutters

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Sault Ste. Marie

Built in 1865, "Upton" was the home of Wemyss Simpson, the last Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company in Sault Ste. Marie. It was subsequently purchased by "Heritage Sault Ste. Marie" and converted into three condominiums. The restored Regency Style verandah is typical of Georgian homes, but not many have been maintained; wood is less durable than stone. The six-over-six sash windows, quoins, and low hip roof are typical of the style.

Georgian House in Sault Ste. Marie

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario


There is no doubt that this is one of the most spectacular Georgian houses in the province, if not in the country.

Georgian House in Sault Ste. Marie

Goderich Ontario


It is a regal five bay Georgian with a sturdy and inviting porch. The stone matches beautifully with the cream coloured trim.

Georgian House in Goderich

Goderich Ontario


Like the rest of the house, a Georgian fence is sturdy and solid. It makes a statement. You need small pilasters to make it work.

Georgian House in Goderich

Goderich Ontario


Georgian Extra Reading and Films


Austen, Jane, Emma, any

Austen, Jane, Persuasion, any

Austen, Jane, Pride and Prejudice, any

Austen, Jane, Sense and Sensability, any

Blumenson, John. Ontario Architecture A Guide to Styles and Terms. 1978.

Cruickshank, Tom, and John de Visser, Old Toronto Houses,Toronto: Firefly Books, 2003.

Cruickshank, Tom, and John de Visser, Old Ontario Houses,Toronto: Firefly Books, 2000.

MacRae, Marion, and Anthony Adamson. The Ancestral Roof: Domestic Architecture of Upper Canada. Toronto: Clarke, Irwin, 1963.

For information on Georgian architecture in specific areas within Ontario there are some very good books listed under the About page.


Becoming Jane - Anne Hathaway

The Madness of King George 1994

"His Majesty was all powerful and all knowing. But he wasn't quite all there."

Persuasion, (1995) (2007)

Pride and Prejudice, (1995) (2005)

Sense and Sensability, (1995) (2008)



Agraffe Transom reveal Quoins Shutter railing Chimney Keystone Transom Balcony Pediment Sash Shutter Veranda Chimney Transom Shutter Sash Arch Transom Sash Windows Voussoirs Band Flat Arch Door Surround Shutters Chimney Stairs Sash Window Shutters Georgian Style fence Sash Quoins Roof sash Transom Shutters Cornice