Support local news? Donate to Niagara Now.Support local news? Donate to Niagara Now.
The Weather Network
Jun. 15, 2019 | Saturday
Editorials and Opinions
Architext: Social reflection
Warner House. (Supplied)

When we consider the Loyalist experience compounded across the community with the loss of life and possessions resulting from an invasion by a country born in revolution, it is hardly surprising that the citizens of Upper Canada might have become a staunchly conservative and fiercely loyal lot. Sometimes described as “more British than Britain”, Niagara’s socio-political climate had a very direct impact on its residential architecture.   

Here, homes designed for local citizenry displayed none of the “unseemly displays far too often indulged in by the common elements who occupy the lands south of our border.”

A Georgian house radiated a sense of decorum and solidity. A Neo-Classical home was elegant in its muted purity of form and line. A Regency design was firmly anchored to the landscape, its form stable and staid. Now this is not to suggest these homes were somehow inferior, quite the contrary, many were brilliant expressions of the designers’ style. But, they were conservative and very often understated.

One does need to get along with one’s neighbours, don’t you know, and it would never do to be seen brash or boastful like an American… However, given your home was a symbol of status in the community, how could you acceptably show success without crossing over that line?

The Warner House, set up on the bench just below the Escarpment, is a perfect solution to this challenge. A modest 1837 Regency Cottage design, it is integrated with the landscape in a pure expression of the style.

But this “modest” house is constructed of worked Grimsby red sandstone and Queenston limestone: the most expensive build of the day. It didn’t shout success, but it certainly conveyed it!